From the editor: More Dispatch content will be available exclusively to subscribers
One of our goals in the news business is to provide you with news and information you find so valuable that you’re willing to pay for it, and tens of thousands of readers do.
We thank our subscribers for your loyalty and support through your subscriptions, which are more important than ever in sustaining newsrooms.
In the digital age, some people expect everything to be free, but as one of my fellow editors put it: Free is a lousy business model.
In the early days of online news, because the internet was obsessed with free access, many news organizations gave away valuable news and information. The thought was that advertising around the news would sustain us, but online competition undermined that model.
Free is not sustainable.
You might remember online sites that allowed music lovers to download recordings free. Eventually, copyright enforcement and payment technology caught up with the times, and now we willingly pay for online music, movies and other media. But news organizations have been slower to adapt.
Currently, visitors to Dispatch.com can enjoy five stories a month free. It’s our version of the Great Harvest Bread Co.’s free slice of bread: Take a taste, and you are likely to buy a loaf.
At Dispatch.com, to read more than five stories a month, non-subscribers are asked to subscribe — and many do. Digital subscriptions have grown by 24% in the past year, and we are grateful for that support.
Beginning Monday, Jan. 25, we are taking another important step in supporting our journalism through subscriptions.
Our exclusive reporting, including investigative stories, political commentary, sports analysis, restaurant reviews and other content found only in The Dispatch will be available online to subscribers only. More-routine news coverage and matters of public safety, such as severe weather and crime reports, will be available for all visitors to Dispatch.com until they reach the five-story monthly limit.
Vital updates about the coronavirus will remain free to all as a public service, as we have done for most of the past year.
Our hope is that you view this as not only a natural and necessary step in our evolution as a business in the digital age, but also as an opportunity to invest in local journalism that makes a difference in our community.
Take for example:
• Reporter Jim Weiker told us about central Ohio's record real-estate year of 2020, which reached extraordinary heights as more million-dollar homes sold than ever before. During the year, 217 central Ohio homes sold for at least $1 million (as of Dec. 28), up from 151 the previous year and 117 in 2018, according to Columbus Realtors data.
• Buckeyes beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz wrote about what it was like for Nina Day while her husband, Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day, was consumed with navigating the Buckeyes through a season ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
• Megan Henry wrote about Al Cathey, whose compromised immune system is a big worry as the coronavirus surge, but not as big as the isolation he has been feeling during the pandemic. His story resonated with thousands of others who are experiencing the same feelings.
• Darrel Rowland explained in an analysis how Donald Trump easily won the Buckeye State in the 2020 election, with a final, unofficial margin of about 471,000 votes over former Vice President Joe Biden. Rowland showed that the Republican’s lead of about 8.2 percentage points virtually matched the spread of his easy win in 2016.
• Gary Seman Jr., who writes about restaurants, told us the story of Amy Schirtzinger, who started from scratch when she opened McClellan’s Pub seven years ago on the Northwest Side. And that Schirtzinger developed the mostly scratch dishes on the menu, which are mostly homemade and prepared to order.
• Reporter Bill Bush explained that as Columbus' Democrat-controlled government remains in talks over whether the city's police union can influence the way officer-involved shootings and allegations of misconduct are investigated and discipline is carried out, it was their party that gave the union its current power.
• And for more than two years, The Dispatch has investigated prescription-drug pricing, revealing one issue after another that has affected the lives and pocketbooks of patients and taxpayers.
These are but a few examples of the valuable stories you’ll find only in The Dispatch and on Dispatch.com.
If you’re already a subscriber, we thank you, and we ask you to encourage others to subscribe and consider gift subscriptions for relatives and friends. We have a subscription sale going on now at Dispatch.com/subscribenow.
Alan D. Miller is editor of The Dispatch.