Media future

Downtown News to ask for voluntary payments from readers

dtn-cover.jpgThe Downtown News has been a free, ad-driven publication since Sue Laris and her then-husband started the weekly paper 40 years ago. It has been there through the final removal of old Bunker Hill, the Fortune 500 exodus, the crack epidemic, the Central Library and First Interstate Tower fires, the early adaptive reuse of sweat shops and vacant offices into lofts, and the more recent full-on renaissance of Downtown. But advertising has fallen out, or moved online in places other than the Downtown News website. In Monday's edition, Laris hints that things are dire and requests that readers make a $5 monthly contribution or a lum-sum donation.

The goal, said Laris, is to ensure that Downtown News continues to provide the Downtown-specific news, investigative reports, in-depth analysis, columns and cultural and food coverage for which the publication is known in the community and beyond.

“The change in how news is delivered plus the recession has been a double whammy,” said Laris. “We have managed to adjust to and deal with the effects of the recession plus the changes in the world of newspapers for four very tough years. During that time we have done everything we can to help the community. Now we have to ask for the community’s help in return.

“After the recession is over and after the opportunities and challenges of the Internet shake out, there will still be a need for local journalism and community journalism, and we intend to be here to provide it.”

Laris said no changes are planned for the editorial department and there will be no staff reductions in the newsroom or other departments of Downtown News. The paper, which has received dozens of local and state awards, prints 47,000 copies each week and has a monthly web readership estimated at 150,000 unique visitors and 600,000 page views.

Those who contribute at least $5 a month will have an option to have their picture (or that of their favorite charity) printed in Downtown News and on, along with a link to that charity.

There's a message from Laris on the paper's Support Local Journalism page, where donations can be made.

Odd LA media fact: For a short time in 2001, the executive editor of the Downtown News was Ms. Nikki Finke. Before she hung out her shingle as a Hollywood insider.

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