The Berkshire Edge is introducing a membership program, and we invite you to join.

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By Sunday, Dec 10 News  15 Comments

December, 2017

Dear Edge Reader,

The Berkshire Edge is introducing a membership program, and we invite you to join.   

Not surprising, as The Edge has been a community effort from the start. About four years ago, as internet publishing grew viable, many of you encouraged David Scribner to bring his experience as an editor and journalist with deep local roots to start a new “paper.” I brought media business experience to the effort, and we have built a solid community of local writers.  

We also consulted many of you about the purpose and direction of The Edge. You said you wanted a publication that would

  • explore, in depth, the issues that really matter to you here in the Berkshires;
  • welcome the many diverse voices in our interesting community;
  • promote an exchange of ideas among writers and readers;
  • help publicize and support the events, cultural life and organizations that make the Berkshires special; and, of course,
  • be fun to read.  

We have worked hard to create the paper you asked for.  Thanks to your enthusiastic response, we have grown by word of mouth alone.  You started reading The Edge, and then you told your friends, and your friends told their friends. Now, you and more than 100,000 other readers visit us every month.

Why are we launching this membership program?   

  • To date, advertising has been our only revenue source. While local businesses have been very supportive, ad revenues don’t cover our costs;
  • We believe that, to be independent, the press should have the backing of both its readers and advertisers;
  • As we have grown, you are enjoying more reporting and special features from throughout our region, and that costs money; and
  • Web technology that makes The Edge easy for you to navigate and that gives you the best online experience is expensive.

No, you don’t have to pay to read The Edge. But, if you do read The Edge and feel that it serves you, informs you and contributes to your enjoyment of the Berkshires, we now ask you to support The Edge by joining our community of members. Click here to see the costs and unique benefits that come with our three levels of membership.  

We thank you in advance for joining in.

Sincerely yours,
Marcie L. Setlow, Publisher
The Berkshire Edge

P.S. David and I ask you, as an opinion leader, not to delay in joining us.  Your early support will encourage your friends and neighbors to follow your lead.  Click here to see our levels of membership and their benefits.

 

  • Edge Community Member
    $60/year or $5/monthly

    • Continued Berkshire Edge coverage.
    • Daily email updates of latest stories.
    • Recognition on our Membership Page.*
    • Your name entered in regular drawings for gift certificates from local businesses and organizations. Shop Local!
    Select Option
  • Edge Community Leader
    $120/year or $10/monthly

    • Continued Berkshire Edge coverage.
    • Daily email updates of latest stories.
    • Recognition on our Membership Page.*
    • 10 days of free advertising (right column ad) on The Berkshire Edge for your favorite Berkshires non-profit (Certain conditions apply**).
    Select Option
  • Edge Community Advisor
    $240/year or $20/monthly

    • Continued Berkshire Edge coverage.
    • Daily email updates of latest stories.
    • Recognition on our Membership Page.*
    • 15 days of free advertising (center column ad) on The Berkshire Edge for your favorite Berkshire non-profit (Certain conditions apply**).
    • Invitations to twice-yearly meetings with Edge editors, writers and other contributors to discuss ways to improve and expand coverage.*
    Select Option

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15 Comments   Add Comment

  1. concerned says:

    as someone who has lost a job,not by my own choosing it was a collapse of the company, I like things the way they are.

  2. Steve Farina says:

    As you have laid them out it seems you have largely met most of your past goals in creating The Edge.
    Now as you are issuing a request for funding, can you offer any insight into the vision for the future of The Edge?
    Maybe you can offer an effort to provide more balanced reporting and articles, free of the the authors political biases (unless of course, that is the stated purpose of said submission).

  3. Shawn G. says:

    Steve- Bias is relative. If I am far right, a “neutral” article seems liberal. And vice-versa.

    1. Steve Farina says:

      And someone who is “neutral” politically can easily see bias when bias is evident

  4. Danny Klein says:

    Bravo! Sign me up, so The Edge can continue to flourish.

  5. SAGE RADACHOWSKY says:

    I see a problem with built-in influence of the wealthy here. You literally are setting up a structure where the people who can afford to contribute the most money will have influence on editorial and content decisions, and those without money to contribute won’t.

    As a working poor person of the South Country i am not able to contribute even at the lowest level because all my money is critical to buying food and paying rent, but i live here in the gentrifying South County with the structural poverty that exists here, and the Edge was my hope to begin to cover this gentrification and structural poverty, if any news source would possibly begin to do so, and this structure makes that even less likely now.

    We need INDEPENDENT press and this means independent of financial interests and class bias.

    1. Steve Farina says:

      I agree, Sage. And you are not alone in the ever increasing wealth gap being created right here in this “progressive” region.
      Let’s see how long your comment remains before it is removed…

    2. concerned says:

      Well said Sage,and it was another point of view brought to light.

    3. Joseph Method says:

      It’s impossible for a business enterprise to be “independent of financial interests”. You just have to choose which ones. Do you want it to be advertisers, one rich person, or a mixture of different funding sources including memberships? That or shut down the business. Those are the only choices.

  6. Steve Farina says:

    To the editors:

    Is there a membership level that prevents comments from being removed?

  7. Virginia Goldner says:

    It is unclear whether you are offering a lower cost or free membership option for those readers , like the one who wrote earlier, who cannot afford your new annual rate. Most newspapers have a rate for students (which you should also offer) but there also needs to be a rate for the economically disadvantaged. Income inequality is a major issue in the Berkshires, one you have covered in your pages,. Without offering a lower and no-charge rate you are drawing a hard class line beteeen those who can read the paper and have a voice, and those who are closed out of entirely. This is counter to your mission of an inclusive community paper, unless the community has been redlined to include only those with enough wealth to view this change as nothing more than the chance for a new tax deduction (pick your non-profit on the right). In this new class hierarchy, the paper will be funded by a progressive “donor class” that picks its local charity, but throws other local readers off the grid.
    I think the paper should have a “no and low fee” membership option, but perhaps also include an option for members to direct their contributions to readers needing support to join the Edge community.
    Finally I was also concerned about how you are offering only those who pay the highest fee the chance to observe the editorial workings of the paper. Editorial access shouldn’t be bought, especially in the age of transparency. There are many ways to reward those who give the most — but private access to your inner editorial sanctum raises red flags, when others do not have that access.

    I love The Edge and read it every day. I hope you will take the feedback you receive from everyone under advisement, and consider making some changes in your business model.

    Virginia Goldner,
    Sheffield

    1. To Virginia, Steve, Sage and anyone else concerned about losing access, THE EDGE WILL CONTINUE TO BE FREE. We are asking for voluntary contributions. No one will be prevented from reading The Edge or from signing up as a subscriber to receive daily email updates.

      Nor do we prevent anyone from posting comments. The only comments we remove are those that are offensive, personal or not relevant to the discussion. Those are rare occurrences. We ask our commenters to be thoughtful and respectful. We do not remove comments just because we may disagree with them. And we continue to welcome comments as other publications are eliminating them.

      By seeking membership support, it is our intent to broaden our base of support, not to narrow it. To date, our only income has been from advertising. It is necessary for us to generate new revenue sources, and so we have invited readers who value The Edge also to participate. It is our belief that a wider funding base protects our independence.

      All of our readers and members are welcome to send us comments, suggestions, letters to the editor and pieces for our We The People section. The fact that we will have an advisory council in no way changes our existing policy of being receptive to comments and suggestions from ALL our readers. Nor will it change our INDEPENDENT EDITORIAL POLICIES. It is one of several ways we maintain contact with our community.

      1. Steve Farina says:

        Someone named Jim Johnston (or Johnson) had posted a comment on this stream which said something to the effect of ” this is comical”, to which there was a reply by Joseph Method, “why?”. Both have been removed before a response to the question could be mustered.
        I fail to see the offensive, personal, or irrelevannce (since he did not have a chance to reply) and therefore don’t know why they would be removed.
        Over the course of the past year I have had several comments removed which also do not fit your criteria.
        I am not convinced that there is a standard in place.
        That said, I am not against you having a membership drive. It would be nice to have some clearer vision for the future, as well as less censorship of the comments, however.

  8. Marcie Setlow says:

    Steve, We took down Jim Johnson’s comment because he is not a real person. He is a troll. We know that. And Joseph Method’s email was a one-word response to the “fake” comment. But you will notice that Joseph Method’s comment from today is up.

  9. Laura says:

    How come no coverage of the Holiday Stroll last Saturday night? Did I miss something? Also the Berkshire Record only had one photo and no story. If you want to build the community then do more community coverage. More stories are done on marijuana rights and pipeline protests than anything else.

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