By Emily Votruba
In a move that has become fairly typical, I waited until Boxing Day this year to open my holiday cards (I haven’t sent mine out yet…). What should I find today in a taped-up handmade envelope with no return address, which I admit to having been afraid of, but $150 in donations collected apparently by and from an anonymous group of my fellow Villagers in support of the Alert. I can’t think of a more heartwarming end to the Christmas season. Thank you so, so much. It’s encouraging to know that some people are finding the site and Facebook page that useful.
It’s been a challenging couple of years in Elberta news (was it not ever thus?). Since the Alert published its last paper edition, in November 2011, I’ve been trying to figure out sustainable ways to get the word out to the community about various goings-on. I think the Facebook page has become an effective way for people to share information and voice their opinions—but it is actually true that not everyone is on Facebook. This Alert website is dedicated to longer-format edited stories, photo essays, and important announcements I don’t want non-Facebook users to miss. You may also have noticed the addition, by Jon Maue, of a direct-from-Facebook feed on the homepage here so that nonFacebook users can catch a glimpse of what’s going on there. There’s always room for improvement, and I’ve been really happy to have an increase in contributions from various writers and photographers and idea people.
Spurred by this amazing anonymous gift, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about the Alert‘s finances and future as I see it. Financial/fiscal transparency is, after all, much on the minds of our residents these days as we try to wrap our minds around the Village’s deficit situation and the mandate we’ve received from the state to clean up our act.
The Alert Media LLC bank account, held at State Savings Bank, currently has $1,070.24 (that’s including the wonderful $150 donation postmarked December 6). This money came from subscriptions, donations, and advertising. Expenses include webhosting, website design fees, copying fees (for example at the County Clerk’s office), the annual LLC filing fee ($25), and very occasional postage. More website upgrades are in the works, paid for by your generous donations, and, I hope, some web advertising revenue in the future. You may have noticed there are some ads already at the bottom of the website page. I’m working on and off with Jordan Bates and Jon Maue to spruce up the look of the site and add features. Improvements are made in fits and starts as breaks in my day job allow and professional help is available. If you have any suggestions or requests for ways to make the site more useful to or enjoyable for you, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve already sent a couple of refunds to subscribers who did not receive all twelve of the issues their $15 annual subscription entitled them to. I’m hoping that those who continue to read the Alert online will find their $15 well spent. If not, and if you or someone you know would like a refund for the issues not sent, please let me know. As for advertisers, I intend to refund the balance of ads not run in the paper edition in the next week or so. If you’re an advertiser reading this now, you could greatly aid me in this by sending me a quick note, if you tracked it, stating how much I owe you! However, I hope you’ll consider advertising on the website. Your ad will appear constantly on each page and will be clickable through to your own website or a webpage of your choice. Right now, the ads are kind of scrunched up at the bottom of the page and are less than ideal in appearance and not clickable. I’m hoping this will be fixed before the end of January.
For the time being, my work and family obligations prevent me from publishing a print edition. I agree with you that the print edition was way cooler than the website. Alas, it really does take MUCH more time to put together a newspaper every month than to post things to a website. But it’s my dream for the Alert to reappear in print form in the future, either as a monthly or in the form of small booklets on particular topics. If you’d like to get involved and join the team, I’d love to hear from you. Please note that, because of the efforts of new Alert team member Jake Moran, pdfs of all back issues are now available right here.
As always, thanks for your ideas, criticism, encouragement, financial support, writing, photos, comments—in short, thanks for being part of the clamor of voices that make this community news organ hum along.
Happy new year!