Editor’s Notebook: Independence, today

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by Brian Clarey

_D5C5045brianI’m delivering this column in the midst of an eventful Independence Day weekend: street festivals, cookouts, pool time and the like.

Normally I’m just one of those humps who accepts this three-day weekend without thought or reflection. But not this year.

This year I’m thinking about independence, what it means, how it applies in the here and now. My situation dictates it.

This, as most readers know, is a relatively new media company, built from the remnants and discarded pieces of another in what could accurately be described as an act of rebellion. The potential consequences are neither as dire nor as globally significant as those faced by the first American citizens, but for our small crew the risk/reward ratio is as real as it gets.

Independence has always been what our enterprise is about, and will ever be.

We fought for it, and now we fight for our survival in a crowded marketplace, fine by us because we believe our mission and the work it dictates stand above the rest.

But now, in our 20th week, it looks like the game has changed.

Always and forever, content dictates advertising and not the other way around.

When the News & Record announced it would accept payment from ArtsGreensboro for an extra 70 arts stories over the next year — $15,000, almost $250 per story — it sent a ripple through the industry. Accepting payment for stories breaks one of the most important tenets of journalism. And while less reputable publications in the Triad engage in it all the time, we expected the long-running daily to hold the line.

Now it looks like that’s up to us.

We’re okay with the business model. We don’t sell stories. Truth be told, we don’t even sell advertising. We sell the eyeballs of our readers, which we attract using great writing, clean design and stories that matter, with detail and analysis they can’t get anywhere else. We allow businesses to piggyback on our popularity by selling real estate in the paper itself and on our website, which recently passed 100,000 page views just four months in.

We do some curating there, too: We don’t sell adult ads. And we don’t sell stories.

Always and forever, content dictates advertising and not the other way around.

That’s what independence means in this business. And at Triad City Beat, we celebrate it every day.

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