Local entreprenurs at an OL-organized event, 2012
We had a reader write and express surprise that it cost money to produce and manage Oakland Local. Our reader said "…I don't think I am alone in hesitating to shell out money in support of something that up until now has been a freebie...and I can certainly continue to pick up a free weekly paper." She also asked, " But exactly what are those costs? Are you paying the writers? Is there a maintenance fee for the website?"
These are all good questions. For starters, remember that something that appears free to the consumer isn't usually free to create and produce. Television is a good example of a medium that, while apparently free to the viewer, isn't.
Oakland Local is an organization that delivers a high amount of value against what we actually spend on our editorial costs and our training programs. In the course of a year, we serve well over a million page views, at a cost of less than 6 cents per page view on Oakland Local, far lower than what other local media reportedly spend--and we distribute our content far beyond oaklandlocal.com through partners.
Our costs for producing Oakland Local include the following:
In addition, we spend another $65 a month on web hosting, another $100 or so on web dev/tech, and some money to pay the person who works part-time doing our social media/newsletter/marketing.
At the same time that we pay many Oaklanders small amounts of money for their work on Oakland Local, we have a large number of people who give their time and effort for free, or for below-market value, either because they don't need to be paid, or because they believe in what we're doing and subsidize us in this way.
Our editor/publisher(50 hours a week) has been a volunteer; our community manager (25 hours a week) has also been a volunteer, and about 35 % of our content is produced by people who do not ask to be paid.
What is amazing to many people who know something about running news & community driven web sites is how much Oakland Local can do with so little. With no full time staff and a budget of under $3,000 total, we created some of the best Occupy Oakland coverage in the region; similarly, the $2,000 the writer raised funded a terrific ten-part series on prison reentry and realignment in Oakland and Alameda County.
And of course, we don't rely on just donations to fund what we do. We sell ads, offer trainings for a fee, hold events and seek--and get-grants. But our organization isn't driven by the need to show a profit--it's propelled forward by our mission, which is to work with underserved voices in Oakland's communities of color to tell the real stories of Oakland--the stories that matter.
Some of the ways that we see ourselves as different from other local media, besides our non-profit approach--are reasons we hope the community will give to support us in this fundraising drive--
If you're of the mind that paying to support non-profit media is strange, ask yourself if it's worth giving something so we can help local business tell their stories, so we can pay writers who don't come from wealthy backgrounds so they can pay their bills, and so Oakland people can tell the stotry of Oakland.
And then imagine if we went away.
If the idea of Oakland without OL seems fine to you, you should move on, but if you want to support local voices, local media and an authentic and committed resource for Oakland, this is the moment to give.
Whether it's $5 or $10 or $25 or more---we've gotten some VERY appreciated $100-$300 gifts--what matters is that we really can't do it without you.
To cover city hall, to cover the police, to cover so many of the stories we do, we need your help.
Right now, before the end of the year, please give in and make a tax-deductible contribution to Oakland Local. Donate at http://oaklandlocal.com/donate, or send your check payable to Ctr for Media Change/Oakland Local
to Oakland Local, c/o Tech Liminal, 555 12 Street, Suite 110, Oakland, CA 94607
And thanks, in advance, for your support.