This Labor of Love Needs a Hand

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Fall of 2018 will mark’s 11th year. I may have mentioned that 11 is one of my favorite numbers. And I trust that this will be my favorite year on, because we are working on bringing you some new features and sections that we’re pretty excited about, which we hope to introduce this spring.

As we look to our editorial future we also consider the future of the enterprise as a whole, as a business, with staff, volunteers, advertisers and sponsors.

The good — no, great — news is that our readership continues to grow, so much so that we broke records this summer with 94,000 unique monthly visitors. We’re proud of that number, even prouder when you consider that each unique visitor represents one IP address, which can host multiple individual computers. That’s a lotta eyeballs peeking into our little corner of paradise.

I hope it’s been your experience that is evolving and has consistently aimed for ever greater heights and breadth, thanks to an array of uniquely talented writers and contributors who provide everything from stunning photography and accurate weather coverage, to insightful movie reviews, enlightened and informative opinion pieces, and fact-based news stories. That certainly has been our goal.

On the other hand, we struggle to maintain sufficient revenue to adequately compensate our professional contributors, yet alone attract new talent for things like a dedicated news reporter, sports coverage, cooking videos, podcasts, and obituaries, as well as the return of Femme de Joie, Redding’s only authentic restaurant reviewer.

Related to this conversation, one upcoming change that those of you who are subscribers will soon notice is we will implement a fee of $5 a month for the subscription service that emails publication notifications to your inbox, something we’ve offered for 10 years at no charge. Those readers who are already making recurring monthly donations to the site (thank you!) will automatically have the option to receive those email notifications at no additional cost.

It’s cold comfort to know that our struggle is a common one among larger and more established media outlets, for whom traditional advertising models no longer work. But the question remains, What to do?

The most obvious, and perhaps easiest fix would be one that many online sites have  implemented: a paywall. But our team’s consensus was this: We all hate paywalls.

So if not a paywall, then what?

On this Valentine’s Day I come to you with an open heart to share the best of what’s happening on, and to ask for your support to assure its continuation, specifically in the form of recurring donations. What I am asking for is a commitment.

If you are one of the select group of friends and readers who currently donate, thank you. If you are not, I ask that you lend your financial support. Just as could not have grown into the vibrant and diverse online community we are without readers like you, we cannot thrive without everyone pitching in.

Love always,

p.s. A few of you have said you’re uncomfortable using PayPal. We hear you and understand.

You have options. First, you can mail donations to, in care of Doni Chamberlain, P.O. Box 990644, Redding, CA 96099.

Second, if you want to make an electronic donation, click on our “donate” button you’ll see a link to a page that looks like this, and it does have the word “PayPal” in the upper left corner (which I’ve cropped to avoid too much white space). But you’ll see at the bottom of the link two options: PayPal and credit card, so you can choose. Let Joe know if it doesn’t work. We want this to go as smoothly as possible for you.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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59 Responses

  1. Avatar Hollyn says:

    After 35 years of paper delivery, my husband and I let go of the RS. The USA Today version of the old wretched flashlight is just not worth $350 a year. We did keep the digital version for $29 a year. When we bragged to our neighbors, they replied they only paid $10 a year. Whaaaaaat? Anyway, it seems to be irrrelevent as after three months neither of us has been billed. Anyway, it finally occurred to me that I’ve been getting the reading material I most enjoy for free. I love free (remember I am the public library afficanado) but I also believe in supporting the things I want to continue. So, thanks for the reminder. As the saying goes: the check’s in the mail.

  2. We argue about the value of the R/S almost daily. Yet when an article appeared as this week about the Bethel annual cultural sharing which has been going on for ten years and as closely as I work with these people recovering Redding’s riparian largess, this item was news. We are starving for coverage in our little village. The more the better and if $60/year from us or $450K/month from everyone can keep you alive, we are in. And thanks for the notice and effort.

  3. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Doni said, “. . . we cannot thrive without everyone pitching in.” That’s a very low-key and kind way of saying, “we cannot SURVIVE without everyone pitching in.”

  4. Avatar Eleanor says:

    I am so pleased to be a recurring monthly subscriber to ANC! It is an early morning bright spot to see ANC’s email in my inbox in the morning, and to know for sure that I am about to read something relevant, interesting and thought-provoking, often funny, and always oh-so-well written. I also (almost) aways enjoy the comments, too!! When Doni first gently mentioned the idea, it was immediately glaringly obvious – why would I not want to subscribe? What an opportunity we have right here! We can do this!

  5. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    “Donate with a debit or credit card”

    Having put in the required info under this section, I was surprised to then learn that a sign-up for PayPal was still required. Happy to donate but unwilling to use PayPal (or Facebook, et al).

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      I went through the same scenario and do not want PayPal either. Anews needs a way to accept credit or debit cards. Possibly in the future?

    • Joe Domke Joe Domke says:

      Weird, you shouldn’t need a PayPal account with that link. What payment method would you prefer?

      • Avatar Richard Christoph says:


        Per the instructions on the page reached via the “Donate” button, the required credit card number, expiration date, 3-digit code, address, phone number, etc. were all entered. Having donated to ANC previously using a credit card, it was a surprise that signing up for PayPal then appeared as an additional requirement.

      • Avatar Kate Barker says:

        It looks like you can’t make a recurring donation unless you have a PayPal account…not sure how to do the recurring without setting up PayPal…?

  6. Done! I’ve been using PayPal for many years, never a problem!

    • Yes, I personally use and like PayPal, but it’s not for everyone. What Joe’s saying is when you get to the link readers get choices regarding how to pay. 🙂
      I’ve added a p.s. to my column with a screen grab of the donate page. I hope that helps.

  7. Avatar Marilyn Traugott says:

    This would be well worth the $5/month, let alone for an expanded NewsCafe as you propose. I’m in.

  8. So, regarding PayPal. Although when you click on the “DONATE” link, it takes you to a page that says PayPal on the left corner, but you’ll see at the bottom a choice of either using PayPal or your credit card. Check it out and see. It’s really easy.

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

      The problem was that having made the choice of the credit card option and inputting the required information, the page continued with a requirement to sign up for PayPal. That step could not be bypassed.

      • Joe Domke Joe Domke says:

        I think if you’ve ever had a PayPal account linked to that credit card it will make you sign in. If that’s the case then there’s no way around it.

        I’m looking into other payment methods to use on, we’ll keep you updated.

        Thanks for trying!

  9. Avatar Sue K says:

    Yes, Pay Pal is our method – but, as Doni says, ‘you have a choice when you hit DONATE’, you can use your credit card if you so choose.
    We are in!

  10. Avatar Linda Castagnoli says:

    Joe and Doni,
    I also tried to donate using a credit card instead of Pay Pal. I made it a monthly donation instead of 1 big lump amount. After correctly entering all credit card info, the payment screen stopped me from completing the transaction saying I needed to make a Pay Pal account to proceed. Maybe, the problem is the ongoing monthly option. I hope you can let me know how to complete. I really don’t want to do a big lump amount.
    Thanks, Linda

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:


      I too had selected the monthly donation option and perhaps that is the source of the glitch.

      • Linda and Richard, you should be able to click on the monthly donation without any trouble.

        Our tech minds are working on a solution to make it easy for you. Thank you for hanging in there with us until we work out the glitches. We appreciate you!

  11. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    Skip just one venti mocha whatever-a-cino each month, and there’s your donation!

    The gifts A News Café have given the North State are many, and I love seeing independent journalism thrive. Every day something new, every day something interesting, with voices from all over adding to the chorus. I love this!

    • Oh, Matt, I love YOU! And thank you for your contributions to, not just via your recurring donation (it’s not a secret because you were a treat winner last month), but your incredible photography in the Photo Cafe, and your columns about everything from travel to critter eradication. We appreciate you!

  12. Avatar Anita L Brady says:

    I’m in! Since the attack on media across our country, I have decided to support more print and online media. Not sure why I never started reoccurring donations to you but I have rectified that problem. I love PayPal!

  13. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Regarding PayPal: I wanted to donate monthly to another organization, but PayPal was the only way to do that. One lump sum could be donated by credit or debit card, but to contribute monthly, PayPal was the only option. Dunno why that’s the case, but ANC isn’t the only site with that problem. Since I had a very old PayPal account, I accessed it for my monthly contribution to ANC.

    • I love that you hung in there and didn’t give up until you found a way to be a monthly contributor. Thank you, Beverly.

      • Avatar Richard Christoph says:


        I use a credit card to contribute monthly to several non-profits as well as recurring monthly bills. It is difficult to understand that somehow ANC is uniquely unable to offer the same ability to would-be monthly donors.

        • Joe’s working on it. Stay tuned, Richard. Thanks for your interest, and for not giving up on us.

        • Avatar Tim says:


          What you’re asking is essentially for Doni to write down your contact info & credit card details on a slip of paper and stick it in her file cabinent so that she can charge the card each month. We trust Doni won’t use our credit cards without our permission, so this doesn’t seem like a big deal.

          The problem is if everybody in Redding knows Doni has a file cabinet full of names & credit cards, more than a few burglars would be awfully tempted to break in and steal that info for nefarious purposes.

          So if Doni wants to physically store a lot of other people’s financial information, she has a responsibility to do so with the upmost care. She’ll want a good security system with cameras, a big heavy safe that can’t be removed without special equipment, and maybe even a round-the-clock security guard…

          Granted, we’re talking about storing data online instead, but you still have rising costs. You probably don’t want a shared web server, so web hosting costs more. You definitely want to use encryption when transmitting data, which is another hurdle to set up. And you probably want to have a cyber security expert checking the logs every so often…

          Anewscafe probably isn’t big enough to justify taking on those costs & responsibilities. So instead, they’re working with a well-known third party (PayPal). When you type in your credit card number on the donate page, Doni doesn’t actually see it — that information goes directly to PayPal. They take on the burden of keeping your data safe in exchange for a commission.

          If you don’t create a paypal account, paypal won’t store your information for future use. They’ll just run it once like Square or any other payment processor.

          • Avatar Richard Christoph says:


            I appreciate the time and effort you expended in providing this background information. I had no idea of the complexity of what I’d considered to be a fairly simple process. Thanks.

          • Avatar K. Beck says:

            Do you know how much they charge for a “commission?”

          • Avatar Tim says:

            For low volume merchants I believe it is $0.30 per transaction plus 2.9% ($0.45 on a $5 transaction). The more business you do, the lower the percentage (1.9% for the biggest merchants).

  14. Avatar Tim says:

    I don’t think it does credit cards, but PopMoney is pretty handy for free electronic transfers from most major banks (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, US Bank, Golden1, Citibank, etc). A number of my Millennial tenants use its recurring payment feature to pay rent.

    Once you have an account, payers simply log into their bank, click a tab labeled something like “send money” or “external transfer,” and then enter your email address or mobile phone number and the amount they wish to send.

  15. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    If Stripe goes live, I’ll probably change my monthly donations from PayPal to a credit card. Thanks, Joe.

  16. I’m bringing it to your house in exchange for one of your cookies !

  17. Avatar Janine Hall says:

    I love Franks way of payment. Only I don’t need any cookies. 🙂

  18. Avatar AJ says:

    If you bank on line you can auto pay to the address Doni gives. Even better than PayPal . . . And Doni . . . I’m IN, I don’t care what you say!!!! Neener neener . . . .

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

      Great idea, AJ.

      Doni, to what address shall I designate a monthly contribution via Bank of America’s BillPay?

      • Richard, thank you for asking: It’s aNewsCafe, P.O. Box 990644, Redding, CA 96099.
        I’m grateful!

        • Avatar Richard Christoph says:


          Thanks for the mailing address, but it turns out that BofA also requires an account number for BillPay recipients, so at this point I’ll avoid spending more time and effort and simply send the 12 monthly donations in one lump sum via credit card.

          Thanks to you and Joe for trying and for all that you do,


          • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

            I bank with Tri-Counties and have no trouble paying without an account number for the recipient. When asked for MY account number, I simply put in my last name, and that suffices. Although your solution is a good one, could you instead make up an account number?

    • Thank you, AJ. You were way ahead of your time.

  19. Well, I just put in all my information with a credit card payment for the year, and it came back to me as refused, and I don’t quite know the reason why. Something about web address not being the same as, oh, I don’t understand. I’ll have to research this!

  20. Me again, just got an e-mail receipt from what looks like paypal, though I payed with a credit card. I’ve never used paypal. My head is spinning.

  21. Avatar Semi-Retired says:

    I am on the fence as far as donating goes… in reality I know I should pay for what I use however, the internet is full of fee free options. I feel there is no complete news reporting in the north state. The Record Searchlight limits your monthly views as do most newspapers and I am not sure if I really like it anyway, it is the only newspaper in town. SFgate is comprehensive without a fee but does not cover local news, KRCR wants to be the news source for the entire northstate but they fail to cover much in Shasta County and their grammar and spelling annoy me! Also their anchors display bias in some of the news reporting with their body language and diction. Their self aggrandizement would make my high school journalism teacher shudder! In my opinion it has become worse with Sinclair. Not that it was any good with Boten.
    I do enjoy news cafe and would like to see an expanded format! I will consider making a donation.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      I hope you do more than just consider, Semi. I’m Fully-Retired, and this site is so important to me that forking over a few bucks is well worth reducing my credit card limit each month. If you enjoy the site and want an expanded format, the only way that can happen is for viewers to do their part and donate.

  22. Avatar Jorgi B says:

    Okay, I’m in! And, thanks, AJ, for reminding me I can use my bank’s bill pay. Yeesh, why didn’t I think of that?! Actually I’m sooo disappointed in the local newspaper. I much prefer ANC.

  23. Count me in for a monthly donation Doni. News Cafe is too important to our community for us not to support honest journalism.

  24. Avatar Roxanne Burke says:

    Doni: Five dollars a month is a steal for the rich content offered on this site. I enjoy the variety of stories, thoughtful opinion pieces and support of local contributors of all ages. I visit this “cafe” often and feel fortunate to take part in discussions of inspiring minds in my community. Donation sent!