Let's take West Hollywood's most popular source of news to another level and a bigger audience. Let's launch WEHOville.com in print.
We love WEHOville. And we're guessing you do too. We have 2,300 plus Facebook likes and way more readers than any website covering West Hollywood. So it's clear that we're the go-to site for information about West Hollywood politics, personalities, nightlife, dining, arts and culture, style, shopping and just plain fun.
But some of you tell us you love WEHOville so much you want to, uh, touch it. You want to hold it in your hands, caress it when you're reading something you like, tear it to shreds when it pisses you off. Maybe even use it to pick up the poop (after reading of course) when you're walking the pooch. Many others of you tell us you want to read your news in print over the breakfast table rather than squint at a laptop screen.
So we want to create a print version of WEHOville. A free weekly newspaper for WEHOville, which we define as West Hollywood and adjacent areas that feel an affinity for our community's creativity, diversity and all around charm.
Why print, you ask? Because we know there are many people who still prefer to get their news that way. So we will reach a bigger audience with both print and online editions. In West Hollywood, with our embarrassingly small voter turnout and so many civic issues, we need to engage as many residents as possible in the discussion.
And because print advertising is still the way that local news organizations make money (ask Warren Buffett, who is buying up local newspapers by the dozens). So a print version of WEHOville will let us generate additional revenue to expand our coverage of local government, commercial and residential development, local business, real estate, tourism and many of the other issues that matter to, and define, West Hollywood.
We will distribute WEHOville in print each Thursday throughout West Hollywood and in adjacent areas to reach those folks who, while they might not live within the boundaries of West Hollywood, consider our community home.
We welcome your contribution, of any size, to help us cover the cost of launching this weekly print newspaper. Our mission is to help foster an informed and engaged community in a place we all love, and to promote its wonders to the world at large. If those goals appeal to you, we hope you'll help us realize them.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The biggest risk this project faces is our inability to generate sufficient advertising revenue to enable it to sustain itself. It likely will take three to four months after launch to get there. Our target goal was selected to cover costs for that period.
That risk is ameliorated by the fact that our publisher, Henry E. (Hank) Scott, has lots of experience at this. He successfully launched a free daily newspaper in New York City (Metro New York, circulation 330,000), turned around a troubled weekly newspaper in Atlanta (Creative Loafing Atlanta, a 120,000 circulation free weekly), launched a Russian-language newspaper in Moscow (The News in Review, published by the New York Times), and rescued Out magazine from impending financial collapse.
With 40 years in the business, and half of that spent as a consultant to newspaper publishers, Hank has the experience to reduce any possible risks. And he never gives up.
First, you should know that while the digital revolution certainly has transformed the newspaper business, it isn’t the case that print is dead. Local newspapers, those that provide detailed coverage of the communities they serve, generally are profitable. That’s why Warren Buffett, the savvy investor, has been buying them up. Large metropolitan daily newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, aren’t doing so well. That’s because they don’t have the resources to give people in individual neighborhoods and communities the news they need. And what national, international and regional news they do provide usually is available online. Second, best I know (and I have been in this field for decades, as a journalist, publisher and media consultant) there are no profitable digital-only local news operations. Any news organization, to sustain itself, must have multiple platforms. Think of a stool with only one leg. Pretty wobbly, huh? That’s a digital-only news business. But when you add two more legs — in our case a print newspaper and an events business — you provide the stability we need to do what you expect of us.
There are several reasons:
One is that West Hollywood is an incredibly vibrant and creative city that has suffered since its inception almost thirty years ago from lack of a professional local news organization. If you’ve read WEHOville in the eight months since we launched, you’ve seen our reporting on what the consequences have been: An ethically challenged political establishment financed by out of town interests who want to make a buck off of WeHo. No forum for the discussion of civic issues (other than the two minutes residents are granted to speak at the twice-monthly city council meetings). A transition from a city founded to preserve the rights of middle-class renters and promote diversity to a city enamored of celebrity and affluence.
The job of a professional news organization, by which we mean one run by experienced journalists committed to objective reporting, is to shine a strong light on what happens behind closed doors in any community, a light that can be a powerful disinfectant in a toxic civic environment. Our job also is to give voice to you, the residents of West Hollywood. Our community leaders may assume they know what you think. But our job is to tell them, giving voice to those of you who may not have ready access to political leaders who, for the most part, aren’t very involved in the community.
Another is that, popular as the Internet may be, there are many people who prefer to get their news in print. A print version of WEHOville allow us to expand our audience, and thus expand the discussion of the issues that matter most to West Hollywood.
Finally, businesses in West Hollywood, which are the lifeblood of our community, need a way to speak directly to their customers. Currently there are no reputable platforms for that. WEHOville.com, in eight months, has become by far the most widely read news medium covering West Hollywood. We provide digitally, and soon in print, a way to present your services and products directly to the people who may be interested in them.
Our overall goal is to subsidize the launch of the print newspaper until it turns profitable. We estimate that will take three to four months. And we estimate that it will cost WEHOville $80,000 to $90,000. The $35,000 we are trying to raise will help us offset that cost. Specific allocations will include a salary for a fulltime local government reporter, for expansion of our network of freelancers to enable us to cover more local sports, local business and commercial and real estate development. We pay our writers a decent wage, the only way to get good reporting and writing.
Donors will have no more say than our readers do now. We invite comments on our stories. We invite contributions from readers to our Let’s Discuss feature. We appreciate it when you alert us to errors we have made or biases in our stories, which we don’t intend but that sometimes happen. But unlike other news organizations in West Hollywood, we don’t slant the news in favor of friends or advertisers — indeed we sometimes upset them. But that is what good journalism is all about.
You aren’t a non-profit. And our donations won’t give us stock in WEHOville. So aren’t we just donating money to help you make a buck?
If only! I firmly believe that WEHOville can become a self-sustaining media organization. But I don’t expect that it will become the next Facebook. I did not launch WEHOville to become rich. I launched it because, as I enter the fifth decade of my life in media, after working for organizations as complex as The New York Times Company and Stockholm-based Metro International S.A., I wanted to return to my roots as a local journalist and publisher. I have invested $269,000 in WEHOville, a measure of my commitment to West Hollywood and to journalism and a measure of my belief that local news media not only is essential to a city’s quality of life but also is a sustainable business.
Other questions? Don’t hesitate to email me (henry@WEHOville.com) or call me (323-454-7707) Help us create a news medium you can get your hands around.
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WEHOVILLE FAN: Thank you for supporting WEHOville! As one of our fans, get exclusive updates about WEHOville’s print issue and our deepest gratitude for supporting our effort. We hope you’ll spread the word!Estimated delivery:
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WEHOVILLE READER: A PDF copy of our first issue for you to read! Sent directly by email. Plus updates about our upcoming issue.Estimated delivery:
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WEHOVILLE LOVER: We’ll show you our love by giving you a WEHOville T-shirt! Show everyone you’re a WEHOville lover by donning our T. Includes shipping. ALSO INCLUDES PDF COPY.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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WEHOVILLE CITIZEN: You’re part of WEHOville now! We’ll reward you with an official Citizen ID card. It won't get you in and out of Mexico or Canada, but it might help if you're trying to escape Beverly Hills or Culver City or Silver Lake to spend a day or night in our more charming burg. We’ll also add in a sticker so you can show everyone where you belong! Stick it on tabletops, refrigerator-tops, your top and other tops! Includes shipping. ALSO INCLUDES PDF COPY AND WEHOVILLE T-SHIRT.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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Citizen of WEHOville. With all the controversy over immigration reform, we thought we'd at least help our most avid supporters by awarding you an official WEHOville citizen ID card. It won't get you in and out of Mexico or Canada, but it might help if you're trying to escape Beverly Hills or Culver City or Silver Lake to spend a day or night in our more charming burg.Estimated delivery:
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WEHOVILLE PATRON: You’re one of our most avid supporters. We’ll reward you with an honorable mention of your name in our first print issue and send you a print copy of our first edition so you can handle it personally! Includes shipping. ALSO INCLUDES PDF COPY, WEHOVILLE T-SHIRT, CITIZEN ID AND STICKER .Estimated delivery:Add $12 USD to ship outside the US
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Diva of Design. With design districts along Beverly, Robertson, Melrose and La Cienega, it's time for WEHOville to crown 2 Divas of Design. We'll provide a crown, a scepter, and a place of honor on WEHOville.com with a picture and profile. We’ll also send you a print copy of our first edition (so you can feel the design with your fingers) and send you a personal thank you note signed by all of us here at WEHOville! You’re one of us now! ALSO INCLUDES PDF COPY, WEHOVILLE T-SHIRT, STICKER, CITIZEN ID AND CREDIT IN OUR FIRST PRINT ISSUE.Estimated delivery:Add $12 USD to ship outside the US
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Shah of the Strip. The first donor of $600 will be anointed Shah of the Strip, the nation's most famous rock music destination. We'll provide a glam ID card that we hope will help get you into the Roxy or House of Blues as well as a place of honor on WEHOville.com, complete with a picture and profile. We’ll also send you a personal thank you note signed by all of us here at WEHOville! You’re one of us now! ALSO INCLUDES PRINT COPY, PDF COPY, WEHOVILLE T-SHIRT, STICKER, CITIZEN ID AND CREDIT IN OUR FIRST PRINT ISSUE.Estimated delivery:Add $12 USD to ship outside the US
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Sultan of Santa Monica. More than 2 miles that courses through the heart of WeHo, Santa Monica Boulevard needs its own head of state. A donation of $750 will get you that title and crown, and recognition as such on WEHOville.com with a picture and profile. We’ll also send you a personal thank you note signed by everyone here at WEHOville! You’re one of us now! ALSO INCLUDES PRINT COPY, PDF COPY, WEHOVILLE T-SHIRT, STICKER, CITIZEN ID AND CREDIT IN OUR FIRST PRINT ISSUE.Estimated delivery:Add $12 USD to ship outside the US
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Baron of Boystown. WeHo's little gay enclave, with its rainbow flag-colored crosswalks, deserves its own leader. The first contributor of $800 will be dubbed Baron of Boystown (imagine the honors the go-go boys will bestow on you!) and recognized as such with a picture and profile on WEHOville.com. We’ll send you a personal thank you note signed by everyone here at WEHOville as well! You’re one of us now! ALSO INCLUDES PRINT COPY, PDF COPY, WEHOVILLE T-SHIRT, STICKER, CITIZEN ID AND CREDIT IN OUR FIRST PRINT ISSUE.Estimated delivery:
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WEHOville City Council Member (with a four year term limit). Be among the first five donors of $1,000 or more to win your place on the council of Southern California's most creative and diverse community (it's bigger than West Hollywood, and you won't have to deal with lobbyists). Become an automatic member of WEHOville's community advisory board with your donation and be updated on our upcoming issues. You’ll be featured on our site and receive a personal thank you card signed by all of us here at WEHOville! You’re one of us now! ALSO INCLUDES PRINT COPY, PDF COPY, WEHOVILLE T-SHIRT, STICKER, CITIZEN ID AND CREDIT IN OUR FIRST PRINT ISSUE.Estimated delivery:Add $12 USD to ship outside the US
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Mayor of WEHOville! Who cares about being Mayor of West Hollywood? (It's just a rotating position anyway). You can become Mayor of Southern California's most creative, diverse and fun community, with boundaries that encompass Melrose Avenue, parts of Beverly and a chunk of Hollywood. After all, WEHOville is more than a city, it's a state of mind. We'll host the inauguration ceremony and recognize you as our mayor on WEHOville.com. Plus you'll be a lifetime member of our community advisory board, which includes updates on issues. We’ll send you a personal thank you card signed by all of us here at WEHOville, a group picture of the team, and host an office visit for you to see where WEHOville is made! ALSO INCLUDES PRINT COPY, PDF COPY, WEHOVILLE T-SHIRT, STICKER, CITIZEN ID AND CREDIT IN OUR FIRST PRINT ISSUE.Estimated delivery:Add $12 USD to ship outside the US
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