Help build better local news in Charlotte

I’m writing to share news of the next step in The Charlotte Ledger’s evolution.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 11, The Ledger will begin offering a version of the newsletter that is available only to paying subscribers. This is an important step in turning The Ledger into a sustainable business. I outlined my thinking on this strategy in a post from November.

With more than 150 issues of this e-newsletter made available for free in the last year, you have had the chance to become familiar with the kind of smart, locally focused journalism that The Ledger is able to produce.

Access to every edition of The Ledger will cost $9/month, or $99/year. There is also a Premium tier, at $379/year, which is aimed at companies, groups and individuals willing to give more in exchange for a few extras — and also to lend support to the new model of local journalism that The Ledger represents. I hope you find the exclusive local news and insights you receive from The Ledger to be worth at least a small contribution.

Why this approach? Well, I know people are accustomed to receiving things for free on the internet. However, you might be familiar with the economists’ adage “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” When you receive information from other media that costs you nothing, you are often paying in some other form … usually by being marketed to relentlessly. Media companies have become quite crafty in devising ways to make money from your eyeballs. We are going a different direction and make this straightforward offer: If you pay for The Ledger, you are our customer, and our incentive is to deliver for you.

Should you choose not to subscribe, we’re cool. The Ledger still loves you, which is why you would still receive two editions per week for free. Of course, we hope you would eventually see the value in The Ledger’s offerings and want to support a dynamic and truly independent Charlotte-focused media company, but that’s your decision.

Going forward, here’s how the different levels will work:

Free – you do nothing

  • Monday Ledger

  • Saturday end of week round-up

  • Breaking news alerts

$9/month plan

  • Full access to all Ledger content, including Wednesday and Friday editions

  • No ads/sponsorships in Wednesday and Friday editions

  • Includes monthly list of rezoning petitions, usually before they hit the city’s main site

  • Ability to comment on online posts

  • Access to a secret Ledger email address to submit comments/questions

  • Subscription for 1 email address

$99/year plan

  • Same as $9/month, but comes with subscription for 2 email addresses (in same household)

Ledger Premium (“Founding Member”): $379/year

  • Same as $9/month plan, but comes with subscription for 6 email addresses (designed for companies)

  • Company/individual thanked monthly in the free Ledger as a Ledger Premium supporter (if desired)

  • Invitation to account holder for exclusive Ledger inner circle events 1-2x/year

Additional details:

Extra email addresses. The $99/year plan comes with two email addresses (in a household), and Ledger Premium (“Founding Member”) comes with six email addresses (designed for companies). I will ask you for those additional emails in separate correspondence after you sign up — the payment page does not support entering those additional emails.

Groups. You have the option of paying as a group on the $99 plan with a single payment if you have four or more people. Groups will receive the same benefits as Ledger Premium. On the payment page, click “other subscription options.” If you have between four and six people in your group, the financially wise move is to sign up for Ledger Premium ($379/year), because it comes with up to six email addresses. Otherwise, if you have four in your group, you would pay 4 x $99 ($396).

Bigger groups/additional support. If you have more than six in your group, email editor@cltledger.com, and I will give you a group discount code for 33% off the $99/person rate. If you are interested in contributing to The Ledger’s work at a higher level of support, you can do that with a group payment – or contact me and we’ll talk.

Tax deduction/business expenses. I would never give tax advice, but companies and self-employed people can likely deduct the cost of a Ledger subscription as a business expense. If you believe the Ledger is important to understanding business in Charlotte and provides information that is helpful to your work, you might consider expensing the cost to your company.

Secret email. Paying subscribers will receive a special Ledger email address they may use to send comments and questions that will receive a priority response. Think of it like the Bat Phone at Wayne Manor, or an I-77 toll lane (but one that is ready to go when it is supposed to be).

Growth, now and in the future

In the last year, The Ledger has gone from 0 to 3,300 subscribers – people who voluntarily entered their email addresses online. I’m grateful for the help many of you have provided by passing along tips, forwarding to your friends and offering encouragement, such as comments like these:

  • “Exciting to see the evolution of the Charlotte Ledger! It’s now a must-read for everyone I know who is/wants to be ‘in the know.’”

  • “Darn good content that is both well-written and informative.”

  • “I could not agree more with your philosophy and approach. Accordingly, I will support whatever way you intend to go forward.”

  • “Love what you are providing – a nice alternative to other local email newsletters I receive. The best part of all: You don't insult my intelligence.”

What will your subscription mean? Well, of course it will keep you in the know, ahead of the news and up to date on local trends. But it will also help The Ledger expand and do more. You probably saw that we recently introduced a Saturday edition.

The Ledger provides thoughtful and needed business coverage. With enough support, could we add additional newsletters on other local topics where there is a lack of quality local information? Yes.

People in Charlotte and elsewhere worry about the decline of local news. But The Ledger is actually doing something about it: We are innovating. We are trying something new. We are showing what might be possible. Join us.

Sincerely,

Tony Mecia

Editor, The Charlotte Ledger