HSJ Online has been up and running for two years, as of January 2017.
We hope you all are enjoying it and we appreciate everyone's interest as we continue in this endeavor.
HSJ Online came into existence with the passing of Larry Simpson. Among the many hats Larry wore around Hope was that of owner, publisher, editor, reporter and part-time janitor of the Hope Star-Journal. The dependence the community had on the paper became apparent immediately upon Larry's death.
Who would cover local happenings? How would we get the word out about meetings, church news, sports scores and school functions?
We have a need for news specific to the Hope area that can only be generated right here.
With a sense of urgency, much brainstorming took place. A lot of folks with a great diversity of expertise gave freely of their knowledge and resources to advise a group on what would be the most successful way to insure a local news source continued to serve the community. A printed publication was financially out of the question. It very quickly became obvious that online was to be the answer. And what an answer that has been.
As of the end of November, we have had 294,865 visits to our website and 426,163 page views since we launched almost two years ago. We are averaging just over 14,000 unique visitors to the site each month. Just over 1,000 people are following us on Facebook and our most popular stories are read thousands of times.
Clearly, people want to know what is going on in Hope, Indiana.
HSJ Online is in a sense a pioneer. HSJ Online operates as a nonprofit under the umbrella of Heritage of Hope. One of our expert advisers set up a business model for us. Within that business model it is recommended that we have a balance equal to two years of our budget on hand to solidify our future to readers and advertisers. By the end of our first year, we had achieved that benchmark, but ongoing expenses have shrunk that balance below that crucial two year benchmark.
The ongoing challenge is how to reach that benchmark and sustain it.
HSJ Online chose not to have a subscription fee. Much like public television we are looking to our followers to consider helping with financial support to keep HSJ Online free for all.
We are selling advertisements. The sales of those ads contribute to the budget, but we do not foresee ad sales solely supporting the financial needs of HSJ Online.
We have pursued grants from several local organizations and individuals, and they have been generous with their support including the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment, the Town of Hope's EDIT committee and Town Council, and Tim Andrews, a Hope native and online news pioneer.
There were many Hope Star-Journal subscriptions purchased by family and friends for those who no longer lived in the Hope area, perhaps making a donation on their behalf might be appropriate. Christmas and birthdays are just a few of the occasions one could celebrate by donating to HSJ Online as a gift in someone's name. We need those that read HSJ Online to voluntarily support their local news source.
All monies are to enable the production of HSJ Online to continue either through staff or overhead. No one on the HSJ Online board is paid for their position.
It is our goal at HSJ Online to be a helpful source, providing news, information and even a little entertainment to our readers. With your support we will continue to expand while doing that.