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The Evolving Delivery of an Independent Voice

Aug 06, 2013

Since 1974, first as a glossy magazine, then as a weekly paper, and now as an increasingly digital organization, the Little Rock-based Arkansas Times has provided essential cultural, political and hard news coverage of the Natural State.

Needless to say, the economics underpinning the operations of organizations such as The Times has changed dramatically since 1974.  Recognizing the extent of the current changes impacting their business, the leadership at The Times has partnered with Tinypass to help chart a new path forward.

Alan Leveritt, the publisher of Arkansas Times, summed up the reasons for the Times’ new, paid digital content strategy back in late July.

“Ten years ago, we subsisted entirely on advertising. But like most print publications, we’ve lost advertisers to the web, where five companies — AOL, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo — get 64 percent of all money spent on digital advertising. While we’ve largely been more successful in selling web and print advertising than our peers, we’ll likely never make up print losses with web advertising dollars.

Newspapers across the country are shriveling up and dying. Yet even in these challenging times, among our peers who publish similar weeklies and websites across the country, we spend almost double the norm on our editorial budget. Why? Because I believe Arkansas needs a strong progressive voice.

We can’t continue to produce aggressive, trenchant, independent reporting and analysis without increased reader support. A new model for funding, in which readers bear a share of our costs, is vital to the future of the Times.

That’s why, on Aug. 1, Arkansas Times will introduce a digital membership plan. Access to our daily content — on four blogs, the Arkansas Blog, Eat Arkansas, Eye Candy and Rock Candy — will be metered. All readers will receive 10 blog views per month for free, after which only members who pay $9.99 per month or $110 per year will have access. Access to the rest of the site — the calendar, dining listings and what appears in the print edition of the Times — will continue to be free.

We follow many other respected media in adapting to changes in our business with a digital membership, from the New York Times to many Arkansas newspapers. We take a page, too, from the much-lauded Texas Tribune, which has become an online political news source solely from reader and charitable contributions.”

You can see a fantastic video of Alan discussing the past, present, and future of the Times and the importance of institutions like it throughout the country –

One of the great privileges of being a part of Tinypass is having a front row seat to the transformation sweeping the media industry as well as being able to help enterprises both large and small, from diversified media companies to independent filmmakers, seize on the opportunity created by the current upheaval.  It is in this spirit that we are excited to add Arkansas Times to our growing roster of publishing partners.