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  • Jim Townsend

Please Support Local Journalism in Your Hometown

It is that time again. That uncomfortable time, for me at least, where I put out a plea for your financial support of The Portland Beacon.

The Portland Beacon is not your typical news site. It cannot survive on advertising dollars alone. While I do sincerely appreciate and need our local advertisers, I know that they have numerous other options in today’s digital world.

In a community the size of Portland, The Beacon needs a combination of local advertising and reader contributions to survive and grow. This is the new model of local journalism.

The evolution of the greater news industry over the last couple of decades, especially in towns the size of Portland, has caused established news publications to evolve into something that seems to rarely cover true local news. Instead they seem to be increasingly using a template where they repackage content that isn’t really local, but label it with a familiar local name, and sell advertising to larger advertisers who want their message in several towns at the same time.

Large media companies are buying out small newspapers and local news itself is often left out of the equation. From a business perspective, I completely understand this. It makes sense. Sort of like mass production and the assembly line changed the way cars were made. With the evolution of news and technology, their new model is the best way to help their bottom line. Meanwhile real local news is often ignored.

In the eleven months The Portland Beacon has been live, I feel it has been incredibly successful in sharing local news and events with Portlanders near and far. The analytics and social media statistics are promising, and I think the site is on to something great in our community.

The kind words and encouragement from readers has been fantastic, and I do appreciate them. But kind words don’t pay the bills.

With the start of the school year and fall high school sports just around the corner, The Beacon will be getting very busy in the coming weeks.

I have no intention of charging people to share news that I think should be free, like an obituary, a birth announcement, or an engagement announcement. Did you know that it costs approximately $45 to run a basic 100-word obituary with a photo in the Portland Review and Observer?

With roughly 12,000 people in our target reader market of the City of Portland and neighboring townships, if one in every ten people contributed a dollar, that would cover a large portion of the basic expenses of The Beacon for a year. Now I know that 1,200 people each giving a dollar is never going to happen, but it helps give a better picture of how the contribution/advertising mix works. Little contributions add up.

If you are interested in contributing, I thank you. You can get more information on how to do so by check or by PayPal at

If you are interested in sponsoring content on a specific topic, organization, business, or even a team, I would be happy to speak with you about options. You can reach me at 517-526-4696 or

If you are interested volunteering your time to write about a topic that you think our community needs to know more about, I would love to speak with you. I know first-hand that it isn’t easy for most people to write these stories, but I have seen some non-profit board members and hockey moms write some pretty awesome pieces.

By no means do I want to mislead anyone into thinking The Portland Beacon is a charity because it isn’t. It is a for-profit business. Contributions are not tax deductible. But this unique business model depends on both advertisers and readers to survive. We need your support to keep this local news source going in our community.

Another way you can help The Beacon is by supporting us on social media. Please consider liking or following our Facebook page, or liking and sharing our content on Twitter and Instagram. If you are a daily or weekly email subscriber, please consider forwarding those emails to your friends and family to help spread the work about The Beacon. Every little bit helps.

I do have a couple other revenue generating ideas in the works, but they will take time. I hope to get some of them rolled out in the coming months.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you for your continued support of The Portland Beacon.

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