Have you heard the news? Today is #GivingNewsDay.
December 1 also marks the first anniversary of the start of Westword's membership program. A year ago, we thought that some of our most ardent, active readers might appreciate being able to read the dozens of stories we publish every week on westword.com without commercial interruption, and would be willing to cover the cost of that ad-free experience with monthly membership payments.
The program worked beyond our wildest expectations. We were thrilled by how many of you signed up, and even more gratified by your supportive comments. And then...the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Among the first casualties of COVID-19 was a significant amount of Westword’s advertising. Venues that could not host events did not need to buy ads; businesses that were scrambling to hang on could not afford to. But we could not afford to quit covering the city around us, either. In fact, we had a whole new, horrific beat to follow, in addition to all the other subjects that kept us busy as we operated remotely or from our new home at 1278 Lincoln Street. How were Denver's restaurants surviving? Could you go out and see art in a safe way? And if you were staying home, what local cultural events could you still experience...and support?
Even if Westword's weekly print edition and 24/7 website remain free, producing quality local journalism is not. And so, in the midst of a pandemic that had ravaged our balance sheet like that of so many other businesses, memberships became an increasingly important part of our economic model. That should be apparent with the new “I support” campaign we launched last month on westword.com, which boosts the membership model we introduced a year ago.
On the anniversary of our membership program and this #GivingNewsDay, we’re celebrating by kicking off #newsCOneeds — a month-long campaign that spotlights the need for homegrown, independent Colorado journalism.
Please consider making a donation or becoming a member of Westword today.
Your support is particularly significant this month. From now through December 31, the Colorado Media Project will match your new (or renewed) monthly membership for the year, or double your one-time gift of up to $1,000, in the #newsCOneeds matching grants program. The match opportunity tops out at $5,000...but that's more than enough to fund the program we've planned, one unique to Westword.
We're not alone in this, though. Through #NewsCOneeds, Westword is one of 25 newsrooms across the state joining forces to amplify the impact of local journalism — not just in Denver, but across Colorado. Collectively, our work is essential to a better-informed community and a healthy democracy. But it would not be possible without the support of readers like you.
This is #newsCOneeds. On #GivingNewsDay (and any day this month), you can double your financial support by becoming a member of Westword or making a donation here.
And after you do, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you enjoy about Westword, and what you'd like to see that we're not offering. If you're giving to us, the least I can do is lend an ear.
After all, that's what Westword has been doing for more than forty years: Listening to this city, and then sharing its stories with all of you.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.