How does a local news organization survive—and thrive—in today’s complex business world?
With help from its readers.
For more than four decades, Willamette Week has made a difference in Portland. Our reporting has changed lives for the better, held the powerful accountable, put a few people in jail and, along the way, made hundreds of thousands of Portlanders aware of the best in this city’s culture.
With your help, we’ve also made a difference through our Give!Guide, which last year raised more than $4 million for 150 local nonprofits.
But the business of journalism has changed. Facebook and Google, among others, have plundered our traditional sources of revenue. These companies are the primary reason that in the past 10 years, the number of news reporters in the United States has declined by more than 38 percent. And despite their profits, these tech titans are doing little to replace the local news coverage they’ve steamrolled.
Quality local journalism takes time and talent and resources. And so, this month, we are launching an effort to ask for your support. We invite you to become a member of Friends of Willamette Week, a new source of funding for quality news reporting in Portland and, when appropriate, across Oregon. We expect audience support to become essential for most serious independent local media companies, the way it has for public broadcasting. It will also allow us to avoid installing paywalls, a barrier to access no one wants.
For quite some time, I have served as WW ’s editor and, more recently, as editor and publisher. Every day, I witness the hard work and dedication of our staff and the positive effect our journalism has on this place we call home. Everyone here is committed to a future in which WW fills the void left by the demise of Portland’s other media—and in which we develop new skills and resources for the important work we do.
Your annual membership will help our enterprise grow. We have lots of ambitions—to hire additional reporters, to add to our data analysis capabilities, to step up the number of public records battles we are fighting, to increase what we pay our freelance photographers, and to add resources to our elections coverage—but we need your help.
Your membership will support the idea first penned by Thomas Jefferson: “The only security of all is in a free press.”
If you believe in reporting that holds vital institutions accountable…
If you believe a media company should prevent white supremacists and Russian hackers from abusing its platform…
If you believe in the importance of fact-checking and making one more call…
If you believe in giving voice to Portlanders who are rarely heard…
If you believe in these principles, please join Friends of WW.
Mark Zusman, Editor & Publisher