Report to the Community, 2023 Q3

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 news aggregator. See also: 2023Q2, 2023Q1, 2022Q4.

—Chris Hardie, Owner and Publisher

By the Numbers

2023 Q3 Finances, July 1 – September 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.

  • Income
    • Advertising sales: $95,400
    • Newspaper subscriptions & individual sales: $49,600
    • Miscellaneous income: $200
    • Donations: $0
  • Expenses
    • Employee payroll & contractors: $70,600
    • Newspaper printing: $17,500
    • Postage & delivery: $9,300
    • Rent, office expenses & utilities: $6,000
    • Legal and accounting service fees: $0
    • Software and online services: $3,600
    • Credit card processing & bank fees: $1,600
    • Advertising & marketing: $650
    • Insurance: $900
    • Other expenses: $155

Other Metrics of Interest

As of Oct. 24, 2023

  • Western Wayne News subscriber households
    • Print: 3,340
    • Online: 568
  • Western Wayne News retail location copies distributed weekly: 685
  • Western Wayne News advertisers during Q3: 210
  • daily newsletter subscribers: 450
  • sources scanned: 80
  • Civic Spark Media employees
    • Full-Time: 4
    • Part-Time: 2


Here are few items of note from the last few months outside of regular newspaper production:

  • In addition to regular news reporting, our team has worked hard to produce special election coverage for the local municipal election happening in November. This included Q&A features with candidates, nearly 20 articles, and a comprehensive online election guide for voters.
  • Our team also worked hard to provide State Fair Band Day coverage, profiling teams leading up to the event and then providing timely updates and results on Band Day itself.
  • Our team was honored at the annual Hoosier State Press Association awards event with recognition for sports reporting and photography, as well as our online presence.
  • We’ve added a few new retail locations to our distribution across the county.
  • We began sending out weekly update newsletters by email to our online subscribers, noting when the online edition of the paper is available and featuring some other aspects of our coverage.
  • As noted in our previous report, 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.
  • We were able to provide a small cost of living wage increase for regular employees.
  • We discussed, refined and published a statement on our approach to community donations and partnerships.
  • Our summer intern, Lizzy Graham, wrapped up her time with us, and our fall intern, Reagan Sturgis, joined us.
  • We acknowledged the milestone of being under new ownership for a whole year!


In the months ahead we’ll be working to continue expanding our team capacity and subscriber base, including:

  • Hopefully adding a health insurance option to our list of employment benefits
  • Hopefully hiring some new staff members for customer and advertiser support operations
  • Launching some campaigns to attract new subscribers
  • Pursuing additional sources of financial support to grow and sustain our news reporting operations


Our printing vendor advised us in September that they would no longer be able to handle printing insert advertisements for us after the end of October. While not a significant source of profit, insert advertising represented approximately $40,000 in revenue over the last 12 months, and we have limited options for making that up.

A customer service representative staff member departed unexpectedly, so we’ve had to scramble a bit to adjust to that and make sure we can continue providing responsive service while working to hire a replacement.

USPS delivery issues and inconsistencies continue, and while they’re fairly minimal — approximately 50 reports of missed or late papers over this third quarter — we still hate knowing that a subscriber didn’t get their paper when they expected it. We continue working with the postal service to address these cases as we can.

A round of staff illness meant our ability to get the paper out the door at all, let alone at a high level of quality, was in question for a few weeks there.

A passing combine took out our office’s internet connection for more than a day.

Other Notes

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.