Our election coverage is free. Producing it is not.

By , Daily Memphian Updated: August 05, 2020 2:55 PM CT | Published: August 05, 2020 4:00 AM CT
Eric Barnes
Daily Memphian

Eric Barnes

Eric Barnes is CEO of The Daily Memphian, host of Behind the Headlines on WKNO-TV, host of The Sidebar on WYXR 91.7, and the author of four novels.

Election Day is Thursday. All that day, every election article we produce will be outside our paywall. The day after, it will be the same. And the day after that. And all the way through November, in fact.

All of the hundreds of stories we have done and will do about the election will be free.

It’s a community service to put these stories outside the paywall.

<strong>Eric Barnes</strong>

Eric Barnes

The decision to make the coverage free was an easy one. Voter education. Democracy in action. The pillars of society.

Who doesn’t want to make election coverage free?

And yet, bluntly, our decision also comes with a cost. Because producing this news is expensive.

That’s why I’m asking you to buy a subscription to The Daily Memphian. Or if you already are a subscriber, make a donation to support our nonprofit mission.

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I’d love to say that we could make all of our stories free. But that’s simply not a viable economic model to sustain The Daily Memphian.

The Daily Memphian relies heavily on subscription revenue to fund our newsroom. That newsroom is the largest in Memphis – 34 full-time employees plus more than 20 freelancers. And even with so many journalists, there are very worthy stories that we sometimes can’t cover.

Already, more than 13,500 people have bought a subscription. And they’ve have done so without us offering gimmicky “dollar-a-month” offers. We thank each of you for subscribing. We thank the hundreds of you who’ve also made donations this year. Your support makes this journalism possible.

Maybe most gratifying is that our subscriptions and donations have grown even as the economy has been hit so hard during this pandemic and the ensuing economic shutdown. To say the least, we understand that these are very, very difficult times.

But difficult times only highlight the need for high-quality, comprehensive local news. That means highlighting the trends in the spread of COVID-19, digging into the horrors of the rape kit fiasco, and offering up some degree of much-needed distraction through our sports coverage.

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Our traffic has never been higher. Subscriptions continue to grow. We’ve avoided the layoffs so many newsrooms have made.

But your support is essential to keeping us on track.

In just the first six months of this year, more than 11,000 people were cut from newsrooms in the United States. And that doesn’t included the many furloughs of journalists that have taken place nationwide and in Memphis.

Eleven-thousand people who once worked in newsrooms big and small are no longer covering their cities or states.

In the first half of 2019, 4,000 newspaper journalist jobs were cut. At the time, that seemed like an impossibly high number. Now, in 2020, that number has been more than doubled, with many of those cuts coming even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet maybe all of this shouldn’t shock me so deeply. More than 2,000 newspapers have gone out of business in the last 15 years. From 2004 to 2019, newspapers cut 36,000 journalists.

I quote those numbers in every one of these columns I do. Maybe I quote them too often.

Thirty-six thousand journalists. Plus at least 5,000 in 2019. Plus 11,000 so far in 2020.

Then again, maybe I don’t quote those numbers enough.

Subscribe today. Donate if you can. We appreciate your support.


The Daily Memphian 2020 Election


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