Dear BK Readers,
So, you've all heard the news: The news industry is facing difficult times, and BK Reader is no exception.
No, we're not closing our doors. Rest assured, BK Reader has a publisher (me) who is a fighter. However, the fact that 7 years ago, Brooklyn had 9 hyperlocal daily news sites and that number is now less than half of that is of no small consequence.
The fact that The New York Times, The Washington Post, The NY Daily News and now DNAinfo all have closed their hyperlocal outfits and are struggling with the budgets of their remaining print and digital versions means that something serious is definitely afoot.
Much of these challenges point back to the way we consume information today. Amazon, Google and Facebook have become the primary destinations where we now live, work and play. The socio-economic impact this has had on interpersonal relationships, brick-and-mortar businesses and hyperlocal economies has been crushing.
Consider this: More than 75 percent of BK Reader's audience comes through social media, a statistic that is consistent with most news outlets today. Now, with Facebook earlier this month changing its algorithm to show far less news-- a move they say is response to the fake news and other troubling content that plagued the site during and after the 2016 election-- FB users will see even fewer BK Reader stories coming through their news feed than before. Our FB page will still be there, but fewer than 1% of our audience will come across our news.
Perhaps, this would have been a thoughtful choice at Facebook's inception, but how effective will this be in fixing the problem today? The "unintended" consequence of decreasing the news flow without eliminating it all together is that, now, news organizations are forced to "pay to play," that is they must pay to boost their news posts-- what you recognize as sponsored content-- so those outlets with the deepest pockets, even the "fake news" outlets, still will have the loudest voice.
And how convenient it is for Facebook to suddenly gain a conscious about news dissemination and respond with a solution that earns it more money. It's almost like replacing one dependency for another-- i.e. dope for methadone. Does that really correct the problem, or does it simply double down on the problem and the spend? How helpful is it to build a dependency that contributes to a financial handicap and then attempt to fix the problem by hitting it in the pockets once more?
So BK Readers, the time has come for real talk! The time has come for all of us to reclaim who we patronize, where we spend our money, and how we build authentic relationships. The time has come to reclaim our time!
Acknowledge your real friends with face-to-face conversations and quality time, offline. Patronize your local retailer before you click that ad that gives marketers more information about you and your buying habits. Visit the pages of the news sources you trust and that pertain to you, and then if you read a story you like, share it. When you do spend time online, be thoughtful, be deliberate. By choosing not to be deliberate, you are letting someone or something else choose for you.
Between Amazon, Google and Facebook-- The Big 3-- our entire lives have coalesced into a virtual world with the power to influence what we believe, how we earn money, how much we should earn and where we should spend. Not only is this unhealthy, it is a mirage of reality, as real relationships are built in your homes, with real people, and in the communities you choose (or choose not) to build.
As a news outlet that works hard to bring you news every day for free (we have decided against charging our readers through a subscription model), BK Reader is asking you to invest in and share those platforms that also invest in you.
Reclaim your power. Reclaim your time. Reclaim your community. Reclaim you!
C. Zawadi Morris, Publisher, BK Reader