Today, I’d like to use this space to tell you about something new at The Star.
Over the past 16 months, we’ve introduced new traditions such as The Star of the Year and Civil Servant of the Week.
We have a new tradition we’re ready to introduce.
In next week’s edition of this newspaper, you’ll find a letter that Star Sales Manager Diane Strehl and I have written to readers who receive The Star on their driveway.
That letter—which will be anticlimactic for those who read this column—is going to introduce a program called a “voluntary contribution. Other newspapers around the country call it a “voluntary subscription.”
I learned about programs like this during my time working for a group of weekly newspapers around the Houston area that were free like The Star.
The newspapers in The Woodlands and Clear Lake have had a voluntary contribution program, and I was always pleasantly surprised by the response from readers who really liked our newspapers and wanted to support them.
The purpose of this program is two-fold.
First, it helps support the day-to-day operation of The Star. Because we do not charge for subscriptions, our revenue is completely reliant on advertising from our local businesses.
The second purpose of this program is to use 15 percent of the proceeds as a holiday tip for the hard-working men and women who deliver your newspaper.
While we rarely receive calls from readers who appreciate getting their newspaper every week, we receive plenty of calls from people when they don’t receive a copy of their Star.
The men and women who deliver the newspaper don’t make a whole lot of money, and they work their tails off, so we’d like to reward them.
Asking for money is difficult. What makes it more difficult is that we deliver 35,000 copies of The Leader each week, and we have plenty of people who would just as soon never see the newspaper again. That is true with any newspaper in any community in any state.
There also will be many people who think it is presumptuous to ask for a voluntary contribution. I understand that sentiment, but I promise this will only happen once a year and if you don’t have an interest in supporting the local newspaper, we will understand completely.
Let me make sure one thing is understood: We are not asking for a voluntary contribution because Diane and I want a pay raise.
If we receive a strong showing of support, our intention is to build The Star into a larger newspaper and website.
If you appreciate The Star and the work we have done to make it relevant to our community, then we’ll be incredibly grateful for your support. If you can’t afford to support the newspaper but you still enjoy receiving it, this is not going to change our delivery. You will still receive it every week.