As a part of our goal to operate for the public benefit, Civic Spark Media and the Western Wayne News will provide regular updates to the community on our operations, health and future plans. This is our latest community report, reflecting recent activities for both the Western Wayne News newspaper and the WayneCounty.info news aggregator. See also: 2023Q1, 2022Q4.
—Chris Hardie, Owner and Publisher
By the Numbers
2023 Q2 Finances, April 1 – June 30, 2023
These financial reports are unaudited and unofficial, but we believe them to be complete and accurate as of this publishing. Rounded to the nearest hundred.
- Advertising sales: $77,000
- Newspaper subscriptions & individual sales: $45,000
- Miscellaneous income: $200
- Donations: $0
- Employee payroll & contractors: $59,700
- Newspaper printing: $17,500
- Postage & delivery: $9,000
- Rent, office expenses & utilities: $6,600
- Legal and accounting service fees: $4,200
- Software and online services: $2,700
- Credit card processing & bank fees: $1,400
- Advertising & marketing: $1,100
- Insurance: $800
- Other expenses: $450
Other Metrics of Interest
As of July 19, 2023
- Western Wayne News subscriber households
- Print: 3,386
- Online: 547
- Western Wayne News retail location copies distributed weekly: 645
- Western Wayne News advertisers during Q1: 220
- WayneCounty.info daily newsletter subscribers: 420
- WayneCounty.info sources scanned: 80
- Civic Spark Media employees
- Full-Time: 4
- Part-Time: 3
Here are some of the things we’ve tackled in the last few months outside of regular newspaper production:
- We hired a new customer service representative, Leah Turner, to be a consistent and helpful presence for our subscribers needing help with their subscriptions, and for various other kinds of inquiries. We also continue to have several positions open and will be working to fill them as quickly as we can find great candidates.
- In April we were notified that the Western Wayne News won two awards from the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for sports reporting and photography.
- We launched a new Western Wayne News podcast with our host Kate Jetmore, where each episode is a short, lively conversation with our neighbors about life in Wayne County. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
- In early April we provided breaking news coverage of the plastics fire in Richmond, which received broad praise as one of the most comprehensive and accurate sources of information about a rapidly developing public health and safety situation. We’ve since reported follow-up articles about the environmental and health impacts of the fire, the way it affected people living nearby, and the ongoing legal and financial responsibility for the costs and cleanup.
- We began making use of machine learning and large language models (popularly referred to as artificial intelligence) to help simplify some aspects of our news production, with full human oversight and control preserved. We published a related ethics statement about the use of artificial intelligence and related technologies in our work.
- In June we raised our subscription rates to better reflect the costs of reporting and producing the newspaper. Community feedback has been supportive and positive, and we’ve seen no discernible drop in subscription renewals and engagement related to the change.
- We’ve continued to work with our partners at the US Postal Service to address and resolve delivery issue reports, and we’re benefitting from tools we implemented in the first quarter to better validate delivery addresses. We received 59 delivery issue reports in the second quarter, and a significant number of these were from a single week where some kind of breakdown in communication between our printing vendor and the post office meant that many Cambridge City subscribers did not receive their paper.
- Early in July we launched an employee profit sharing program as another way to recognize and and appreciate the hard work of our awesome staff.
In the months ahead we’ll be pursuing some new growth and community service initiatives, including:
- Adding new retail locations to the list of stores that sell the Western Wayne News
- Partnering with local educators and classrooms to increase media literacy among area students
- Producing special coverage for the fall local election season
- Evaluating opportunities for improving community events calendar offerings
- Adding new employment benefits
- Connecting with other media professionals and producers in the region and nationally to network and share best practices around local news and newspapers
USPS delivery issues and staffing capacity continue to be our biggest challenges.
In particular, staff capacity limitations combined with some challenges hearing back from area schools meant we were unable to provide as much coverage of graduating area high school seniors this year as we have in the past.
We hope you find this report to the community useful; if you have suggestions about how we can make improvements for future reports, please contact us.