Doni’s Annual Valentine’s Message: Show ANC Some Heart

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This is a big year for ANC, here in 2020: This is our 13th year of existence. Can you believe it? Lucky 13.

I believe in luck , but I also believe in that saying, “the harder I work, the luckier I get”.

Sometimes, though, it takes more than hard work to keep your favorite online news magazine alive: It takes commitment from paid subscribers willing to click here, and sign up for as little as $5 a month to ensure ANC’s ongoing growth and survival. When you click here, you’ll see a description, and all kinds of options, but if you want to skip the words just scroll down to the blue box and check how much you’d like to pledge each month. We’re optimists, so we offer a range that goes from $5 a month up to $200.

So much for wishful thinking, because so far, no subscriber donates $200 a month. The highest monthly subscription paid is $50 by a woman I’ve never met. The first time we received that payment I emailed her to see if her contribution was a case of a mistaken zero, since $5 is the average amount paid by the majority of ANC subscribers. Her reply made me cry. She said that she meant to pay $50 a month because she knew there might be loyal ANC readers who would like to be paid subscribers, but couldn’t afford it, so she was helping cover those people. I’d say her name, but I don’t want to embarrass her.

When I do the math and calculate the number of monthly views (January was in the 85,000 range) and then look at the puny number of paid subscribers (less than 250, the majority of whom pay $5), it’s damn depressing. It makes me wonder what we’re doing wrong that we have so many loyal, regular readers, but so few willing to pay for the awesome public service that is ANC.

Maybe you noticed this message we’ve started including on all our posts lately: If you enjoyed this post, and want to ensure ANC’s ability to provide more content like this, please click here to demonstrate your support and become a paid subscriber.

I’d rather not include messages like that, because it feels like begging, which feels icky.

Likewise, I know it’s a downer to read posts like this, and frankly, they’re humiliating for me to write. But I don’t know how else to impress upon the non-subscribers how much we need them. You. How much we need you.

I say you, because statistically speaking, the odds are huge that you’re not a paid subscriber. Just writing those words breaks my heart a little.

A word about guilt here. I know that the very nature of our average paid subscriber is that of a giving, involved, engaged and loyal human being, someone who’s no stranger to the concept of giving. Here’s my statement to you wonderful ANC paid subscribers: This Valentine’s Day message is not directed toward you. Do not pull out your calculators and see if you can increase your monthly subscription fee. Really. You’re good.

Yes, I know it’s a dumb-ass business move to actually tell paid subscribers that the amount they’re paying is adequate, kind of like when I made the bright business decision to remove the paywall after we gained enough regular paid subscribers to keep from going under.

Maybe if I’d majored in business instead of journalism I wouldn’t be beseeching ANC’s audience to pay for a service that costs money to produce but one I’m giving away for free. But I don’t want to build another pay wall because I believe in a free press. I like the concept of voluntary paid subscriptions, not mandatory.

I’m speaking to you readers, scores of you, who are not paid subscribers. I’m asking you to really dig deep and ask yourself why you aren’t a subscriber, especially if you’re a regular ANC visitor.

With more paid subscribers, I could pay our journalists and staff a living wage. With more paid subscribers, I could hire a news reporter. With more paid subscribers, I could spend more time writing, and less time worrying about how to keep this website afloat, and less time trying to figure out how to raise more money to keep ANC not just alive, but thriving.

I know a few things to be true:

  1. I am grateful beyond words for our paid advertisers, those forward-thinking tech-savvy local businesses and establishments who value having exposure on ANC and its many readers and the traffic they provide. Thank you, advertisers.
  2. The traditional advertising model is broken. Just look at all the newspapers and magazines that have disappeared, especially in the last decade or so. It’s a miracle ANC lasted one year, let alone 13.
  3.  ANC is a valuable community asset that provides news, commentary, information, entertainment and lots of opportunities to engage and participate.
  4. Anything of value is worth paying for, and that includes content provided for free – sans paywall – here at ANC.

I truly wish I could have thought of a humorous way to deliver this message to you, but for me, keeping ANC going strong is dead serious business.

This is the month of love, the month I usually make my pitch for non-subscribers to please pretty please show ANC the love, by clicking here and choosing an amount that you can afford, and joining the proud ranks of the fraction of extraordinarily spectacular readers who help support ANC.

Think of this as our little pledge drive. Who knows, maybe ANC isn’t worth $5 a month to you; but maybe it is worth $5 a month to you if it means I’ll stop bugging you to subscribe. Either way works for me.

Just click here. 

And to you current, awesome paid subscribers, you’re already showing us the love. We feel the love, and we love you, too! Thank you!

And to everyone else — the majority of ANC readers — I’m hoping that this Valentine’s Day is the day you’ll join ANC’s family of wonderful subscribers, so you can feel the love, too.

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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17 Responses

  1. Avatar Eleanor Townsend says:

    Good for you, Doni!! This really needed to be said, and Valentine’s is the perfect day for it. So many of us appreciate ANC more (much more) than any other news outlet, for its singular and civil style, and for so many bright minds who share their thoughts here.
    I’ve been a subscriber from the start, I think, and it just feels right to participate in ANC’s financial health if I read it every day, which I do. Carry on, please!

    • Eleanor, you are correct when you say you’ve been an ANC contributor – joining a core group of dedicated supportive readers from the start. I am so supremely grateful for you, and everyone who’s been here cheering us on. Thank you! Bless you. I appreciate you so much.

      • Avatar Eleanor Townsend says:

        Actually, Doni, it is all of ‘we’ who are so supremely grateful to you for starting this amazing site. For having the idea, and following through to the great heights it has now. Everyone knows ANC. From a small seed, you single handedly (almost) built something for all of us to appreciate. Thank you!

  2. Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

    Coming from the writing-side of the ANC equation, I am so hopeful that aNewsCafe will go on thriving and growing, always. I love having a column here, and enjoying the wonderful community spirit among the readers. I said this in my FB post, linking this column, and it’s so true: without ANC, I would have no voice – in the North State or anywhere. So it is with gratitude that I comment here, for subscribers past, present and future, in the hopes that people will respond beautifully to this heartfelt call for support.

    • Well, shoot, Deb. Without gifted writers like you, there would be no point in ANC. We are one big circle of people who make this site work, starting with the content provided by you and others, which draws scores of readers, and makes it a fine place for businesses to have their ads for optimum exposure before a tech-savvy, smart and civilized group of individuals.

      You may appreciate ANC for giving you a platform for your voice via delightful writing and photography, but we’re the lucky ones who are able to partake of your gifts. Without one, there would be no other.

      So, thank you, dearest Deb. (And your most recent submission – so touching and interesting – is in the queue for next week. Another home run.)

      • Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

        Just think . . . if there were no ANC, I would never have gotten to make the much coveted trip to northern Scotland via Deb’s informative, descriptive and often hilarious contributions from that part of the world . . ..and the visuals we get to enjoy??? Well, gotta be the next best thing to being there!!!
        Thank you Deb,
        Thank you ANC,
        Thank you Doni!!!

        • Oh, AJ, thank YOU! Not just for being such a vocal, enthusiastic supporter, but for your “Just Sayin'” posts, and for being such a wise and wonderful commenter. I’m glad you’re here. I appreciate you!

        • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

          My life has been so much richer, more laughter-filled, and more thought-provoking since I got to hang out here at ANC with all of you :-). I am grateful!

  3. Avatar LeRoy says:

    Keep up the good work

  4. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    Recently I read an article regarding the importance, significance, the very necessity of local journalism. Naturally, ANC came to mind. So, dear “News We Can Use Valentine,” I just clicked (it was easy!) and contributed a $60 one-time heart. My appreciation to the journalists and commenters who contribute (well, most of them, ha, ha). Yet, for me, life really is like a box of chocolates (sorry, yet it is Valentine’s Day), and I also learn from the diversity. Kind of like checking out Fox News (rarely) just to note how the opposition is doing?

    And, Doni, I get it about the challenge with asking for support. It’s darn hard! However, while not much, your shout out was an inspiring reminder. When faced with this situation in my work days (should we charge for this event?), I would look at it this way. People should be provided the opportunity to give.

    • Linda, I saw your contribution notification in my inbox, and I felt so happy. Thank you, for helping support local journalism. Thank you for being a brave commenter. Thank you for being part of the ANC family, and encouraging others to join you. I feel so grateful!

  5. Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

    I so fully agree with all the positive comments, Doni!
    We are so lucky to have, thanks to the hard work you and Joe give to anewscafe, and to the talented writers who contribute.
    Making a donation or getting a subscription to help fund is such a small thing to do, and it reaps such large benefits for us all. Thank you!

  6. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Local journalism everywhere is imperiled, and it’s amazing Doni has kept A News Cafe up and running for 13 years. Like me, most of A News Cafe’s contributors have real jobs that pay the bills, and we write for Doni because we believe what we do is more important now than ever. As I’ve written in A News Cafe, here in far Northern California, we live in a media desert I call Hannityville, featuring wall-to-wall right-wing radio propaganda and lies. We think the truth is worth $5 per month.

    • You are correct, R.V., that every person who works for ANC – myself included– has another income source. What a luxury ot would be to have just one job.
      Thank YOU R.V., for all you fo gor ANC. I appreciate you!

  7. Avatar brad maloney says:

    Doni, Please don’t feel bad for asking people to support such a valuable service provided free to folks who truly can’t afford support. It’s not like you’re running weeks long fund drives. ANC has every right to ask for support in such a sweet way. There is absolutely no reason to feel bad about asking for help in providing such valuable resource for truth. Thank you so very much!!

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