Like any independent nonprofit organization, the Chronicle runs on finances. For the past decade the internet has significantly changed the ways the news works, bringing severe economic pressure on the country’s news industry, and especially on local news. The pandemic has been especially devastating to the economics of news publishing, with many local publishers, including local Jewish news publishers, cutting back or closing altogether, leaving a “news desert” in their communities. The main culprit has been the sudden and dramatic drop in advertising. We hoped that things would return to pre-pandemic “normal,” but they haven’t and don’t look like they will anytime soon. And now, for the first time in a long time, the widespread supply chain disruptions have resulted in significant cost increases for us.
We have seen the seismic changes coming to our industry for a while and have been making changes to adjust. The Chronicle’s revenue used to come primarily from print ads, with subscriptions second, and then donations. Recognizing trends, in 2017 we made print subscriptions free to members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community and relaunched our website. Print ads remained the largest revenue source, but grants and donations from large and small donors enabled this transition and became our second largest revenue source as paid subscriptions dropped. We expanded our digital presence, grew our email list and email newsletters, and enhanced our activities on social media. This has grown digital ad revenue, but digital ad revenue can’t begin to replace print revenue given the way digital ads work. And now with the pandemic, the trends across all local news publishing have accelerated and become clear. Print ad revenue most likely won’t be coming back, let alone provide the financial means for us to grow and develop. Accordingly, we must shift our efforts to greatly expand our donations from both large and small donors, which will become our largest source of revenue.
You count on us to bring you Jewish Pittsburgh, and now more than ever we count on you — our readers, our supporters, our fellow community members — to help provide us with the resources we need to continue to serve you every day online and every week in print. Our last annual campaign was in 2020, and although some of you have generously made contributions this year, this is our first and only campaign for 2021. We ask you now to help maintain award-winning, critical news and information about and for the Pittsburgh Jewish community with your generous contribution, even if you’ve already supported us in the past. Thank you for reading, caring and doing what you can to help.
Chag sameach. PJC
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