The Western Wayne News periodically receives requests to make financial contributions to support area not-for-profit organizations and projects.
As of July 2023, we are not making philanthropic gifts of this nature. There are two main reasons for this:
First, the newspaper is itself in a period of trying to strengthen our financial situation so that we can sustain operations into the future. While we are not in immediate danger of closing our doors and do have financial reserves, at our current revenue levels we are not able to pay our existing employees competitive wages or provide benefits that help us attract and retain talented people over time. We are subject to unexpected, short-term changes in market conditions that affect our advertising and subscription income, which are already based on relatively low pricing to make our services and publication as accessible as possible. In short, we are essentially operating as a public benefit organization that exists as a service to the community, and this does not put us in a good financial position to also make substantial donations to support other not-for-profit organizations.
Second, as a news organization attempting to meet high standards of journalistic practice and ethics, it’s important that we not participate in activities that might call into question our ability to cover a given story, person, organization or event in a way that is focused on meeting the community’s information needs with integrity and without undue influence. At a time where there are increasing attempts to undermine the credibility of news organizations, we want to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest in our news gathering and reporting activities. If we make a financial contribution to an organization in our area, it can introduce a question about whether and how our future coverage of that organization and its activities may be affected by our status as a donor, sponsor or partner. There may be better ways to navigate this dilemma, especially for a local news organization where we recognize that our health and success as a business is intertwined with the health and success of the surrounding community. For now, we don’t have the capacity to handle the decision-making, communications, disclosures and other effort that would be required to do this well, so we’re choosing to defer those decisions altogether.
It may be that we occasionally encounter giving opportunities where the benefits of being a supporting community partner outweigh these concerns. An example might be a partnership with an organization that helps increase media literacy among area young people, or that improves community engagement with news and information more generally. We will continue to revisit and refine our approach here over time.
If you believe your organization has an exceptional opportunity for the Western Wayne News to participate as a supporter in a way that furthers our goals of informing, inspiring and improving the community without introducing a conflict of interest, we invite you to contact us with details.