Local Journalism Matters: Why I started AdaptBN for Bloomington-Normal

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Below is a letter from the Founder of AdaptBN, Christian Prenzler.

Over the past decade, both Bloomington-Normal and the entire world have transformed tremendously. In January 2008, the world faced the beginning of a devastating financial collapse and a staggering unemployment rate of 9.8%. Since then, the economy has been transformed and we are now experiencing a prospering bull market.

However, local news never recovered. The Pantagraph, Bloomington-Normal's local newspaper, was founded 181 years ago and is currently owned by Lee Enterprises. Lee purchased the Paper from Pulitzer, Inc., in February 2005.  At that time, Lee Enterprises was valued at over $2B and the Pantagraph had nearly 46,000 daily print subscribers.

Thirteen years later, Lee Enterprises has lost 95% of its value and is now worth $133M. The Pantagraph currently has 24,807 daily subscribers, a drop of 46%. To counter these changes, prices have risen significantly, now $40/month, up from $26/month in 2016, a 54% increase.

Print newspapers have been the bedrock of local news for over three centuries, providing a consistent flow of information to their communities. However, as the global economy has gone nearly 100% digital, newspapers have been stripped of both their print advertising and print subscription revenue. Digital advertising has been dominated by Google and Facebook, capturing 77% of digital advertising revenue and 99% of industry growth, leaving little on the table for publishers.

This is an absolute tragedy for communities across the globe. Legacy print-based newspapers no longer have the resources they need to provide adequate coverage of their communities.

“If people don’t get local news, they don’t know what’s going on in their community. If they don’t know what’s going on in their community, they don’t get involved in their community. If they’re not involved in their community, and others aren’t involved in their community, their government may not actually function very well. If people aren’t involved at the local level, and they don’t know what’s going on, and the government’s not performing at the local level, they start to lose trust. And when they start to lose trust, they start to have concerns about whether or not democracy is working, whether the government is working. And those feelings are naturally then extended to the national government." - Lee Shaker, Communications Professor at Portland State University and an expert on local news. (Wired Nov. 2017 Interview)

I started AdaptBN because something has to be done to improve local news and bring it into the digital era. With a sustainable business model, a digital-only perspective, and an entrepreneurial spirit, AdaptBN aims to be a part of the solution. At AdaptBN, we are committed to providing the highest quality journalism while continuously exploring new technologies and innovation.

AdaptBN only covers local news, no national politics, no global business. We know in the modern era that your local news source isn't your destination for national and global news. AdaptBN provides you with the news you won't read on CNN, The New York Times, Fox News, or The Washington Post.

Over the course of 2018, you will see many changes and improvements to AdaptBN. We are continuing to increase the volume of articles and will soon venture into new coverage areas. Some of our other plans include engaging with the community by hosting events, producing video content, and of course, publishing informative and engaging articles.

This can't happen alone.

We need you and your support. AdaptBN doesn't have disruptive ads; we rely on subscription revenue from our readers. You can subscribe for as little as $8.99/month or $22.99/quarter here.

AdaptBN is funded through myself and a small investment round with friends. We aren't owned by a big corporation or special interests.

Right now, we are a small tight-knit team and we are hiring! We have big, exciting plans for 2018 and we've already become one of the fastest growing digital media companies. Reporters can apply here.

Lastly, I want to thank our early subscribers and supporters. We can't do it without your support and readership. If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns, you can email me personally.

Thank you and we look forward to serving you in 2018 and beyond!

With Excitement,

Christian Prenzler

Founder and Managing Partner, AdaptBN