George W. Bush used to tell an interesting story in his stump speeches as he was running for president in 2000.
He talked about a woman he met during one of his campaigns for governor. She told him she had always liked him and was sorry he had lost his congressional bid back in 1978. But, she added, she hadn’t voted for him in that election.
Why not, he asked.
Because you didn’t ask me to, she explained.
“So,” Bush would say to the crowd at rallies, “I’m here today asking for your vote.”
It always struck me as a clever and memorable line in the otherwise forgettable blur of the standard stump speech. I’ve told that story to other candidates and political reporters over the years since and it always seems to strike a chord with them too.
If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
So I’m here today to make an ask of my own.
Would you consider joining us in supporting local journalism?
This month we’ve rolled out a new subscription system geared toward making it easier for you to join our effort to bring you local news, sports and features, along with great regional, state and national content.
You can still get the same basic digital subscription at a reasonable monthly rate. For a little more, you can also get access to our increasingly popular e-edition, which replicates the daily print paper, but in a form that is easy to read on computers, tablets and phones. As always, those subscriptions will give you full access to our articles and features online, and will exempt you from certain ads, such as the surveys that sometimes pop up when a non-subscriber looks at an article.
What’s new is adding the notion of “memberships.” If you’ve ever joined a customer loyalty program, such as for an airline or hotel chain, or if you’ve ever donated to a public broadcasting outlet, the idea should be familiar. For just a little more each month, you get an increasing array of benefits, including discounts at local and national retailers, access to live and online events, and even access to an expanded e-edition, including great content that we didn’t have space to offer in the printed edition.
The memberships start at Silver then upgrade to Gold and Platinum, each with its own suite of benefits and services.
This isn’t an entirely new idea – major national papers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times have been having good success with similar programs for several years.
But now this concept is reaching down to the level of local newspapers such as the Napa Valley Register.
We’ve spent the last several years reorganizing how we design and produce our newspaper, how we organize and present our web and social media content, and building up an infrastructure that will allow us to find and present to you interesting, important and compelling content in ways that are convenient to you.
We’ve been trying to build the case that local news outlets matter and that there is value in paying a modest amount to support them. We’ve been building to the day when we were really ready to invite you to do so.
All of this reinvention is a work in progress – we’re better than we were five years ago, we’ll be better still in a year or two or five.
But it takes money. We still get money from traditional advertisers, but it is increasingly important for us to get support from our readers, particularly our online readers, where we have the opportunity to reinvent the way the news is collected and presented.
The Register, and all newspapers, are on a big adventure, reinventing news and reinventing ourselves from a traditional newspaper to a 21st century digital model, all while still producing that traditional printed paper every day.
So, I’m here today asking for your vote of confidence. Won’t you join us and make this exciting journey possible?