Before the coronavirus outbreak, we conducted an online survey asking you what kind of content you would pay for in a digital subscription to PinalCentral.
Like most newspapers, we have instituted a paywall for our online content with a meter that allows free access to a certain number of stories before a subscription would be required. Through the survey we wanted to find out want type of content readers would prefer if they were to subscribe.
The results were a little surprising.
We know from real-time analytics that crime/justice stories are the most read online. That topic was high on the list of the more than 200 survey respondents, but it wasn’t the top choice.
Events and Recreation was No. 1.
Also, many of the open comments on the survey indicated readers wanted to see more “uplifting” stories, which according to our analytics don’t get as much online traffic.
It is the old newspaper paradox — you tell us you want more “good news” but our data shows you prefer to read “bad news.”
But what we thought was a dilemma for our online strategy is really an opportunity for better community service. Sure, we can provide the news you feel you need to know, but we can also provide the news you want to know.
And that is where we find ourselves today.
We have suspended our paywall on all COVID-19 stories, not just the local coverage, but stories from all over the world. And they are updated and added to our website daily.
Financial concerns shouldn’t keep anyone away from news and information that could be a matter of life or death. While we’re making our COVID-19 content free as a public service, we do hope readers who appreciate that will consider subscribing.
And as an added incentive and local stimulus, all new one-year digital subscribers will receive a $20 gift card to one of over 20 local restaurants. After you subscribe, we will email you to coordinate receipt of the gift card.
In our COVID-19 coverage is also news you can use to help cope and adjust to the crisis, such as Q&As with experts from the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. Topics have included how to speak to children about the virus, how to mentally cope with isolation from self-quarantine, how to teach children at home and how to behave around one another during a crisis. We have also run columns by local and state doctors on how to detect and treat coronavirus.
Along with up-to-date coverage of the daily briefings by state and Pinal County health officials, we have begun sending out a newsletter highlighting and linking to our stories that day dealing with the coronavirus. To sign up for the newsletter go to our pinalcentral.com home page and click on Headlines newsletter. This will allow you to receive both our regular daily newsletter and our special coronavirus newsletter.
Our reporters are working tirelessly, many from home, to inform our readers across Pinal County of closings, cancellations, actions of state and local governments, and the ways in which our communities are adapting to contain the spread of the virus.
But taking what we learned from our survey, we know there is so much more positive news out there, and we want you to help us tell it.
A health care provider that is just awesome?
Do you know a high schooler delivering meals to those in need?
A local business doing something great?
A random act of kindness?
Local workers making a difference?
We want your tips on such stories so we can provide more uplifting news during this crisis.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas along with the names and contact phone numbers for the subjects. We would especially appreciate photos being included.
Remember, we are all in this together, even if we can’t physically get together.