“You get what you pay for.”
This phrase is typically referred to as the common law of business balance. The sentiment is straightforward: If you want a quality product, you have to be willing to pay for it. Journalism is no different, as reporting requires resources in the form of training, working hours and more.
Inherently, this is true on both local and national levels. While you can piece together headlines on Twitter and try to decipher comments from folks who read them, your best bet for understanding and digesting the news is to invest time in the article yourself. And sometimes, it costs money to do so.
“Journalism is almost always a business,” says Washingtonian Editor Michael Schaffer. “[The] bottom line is: Much of journalism is not sustainable if people aren’t willing to pay for content.”
While the 12 annual print editions of Washingtonian will always be a constant through line in the publication’s past and present offerings, Schaffer adds that people can also support their work by attending their parties, clicking on their website and interacting on social media.
Paying for the content you engage with can also make you feel more connected, especially when the journalism you consume actively makes you take notice of the things happening in your community. While media is commonplace in the District, each entity is important and dynamic in its own way.
“I think it’s essential for people to support local journalism with dollars because we’ve seen how quickly these outlets can disappear,” says Caroline Jones, the interim editor for Washington City Paper (WCP). “DCist closed temporarily in 2017 and City Paper almost closed at the same time. For City Paper, we’ve lost significant ad revenue to the Internet, but we’re determined to keep publishing in print and online because we feel like we provide an essential service to our readers.”
WCP has gone from 300 paying members before quarantine to almost 1,000 now, Jones says. The hunger to fund local publications through memberships or other purchases has never been more necessary because of the effects on the economy brought by Covid-19.
After more than 20 years of producing 11 print issues per year at no cost to readers, District Fray Magazine – formerly On Tap Magazine – is also debuting different levels of membership this summer. With various levels of access, the prices for print and digital memberships range from $1.95 to $6.95 per month.
Recently, we have added a community impact annual patron option: a yearly subscription for $87.95, half of which goes directly to a nonprofit or organization supporting the Black community and others in need, with recipients changing quarterly. The first is the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the city’s oldest and largest civil and legal rights organization. Since 1932, Legal Aid’s work has intended to help those most in need throughout the District to achieve justice for themselves and their families.
D.C. is a dynamic city with many moving parts, and local journalism is a way for you to learn and better understand the area. With quarantine, the pandemic and social injustices happening throughout the country, local publications are needed more now than ever.
“Local journalism is important because as residents, we’re all stakeholders in our city and deserve to be well-informed,” Jones says. “It’s especially important in D.C. because our local elected officials have such significant power over our health, safety and the things we like to do in our spare time, and during fraught times like these, we need all the information we can get. Going deeper and getting news from local journalism outlets allows people to gain more context than they would from a Facebook post or tweet. You can’t fit an entire story in 280 characters.”
To learn more about District Fray Magazine’s subscription and member options, visit www.districtfray.com/member. Thank you in advance for supporting local journalism.
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