The Sun News is poised on the cusp of a new era in delivering award-winning journalism to its readers. On Wednesday, we will officially join the growing throng of news providers that package their content – in print, online, via smartphones and tablets – into one subscription.
Yes, that means online readers will, after viewing 15 items each month, begin paying for coverage that once was free. Even when that begins, however, access to many things online, including the homepage, advertisements and the Weekly Surge, will continue to be free.
At the risk of being repetitive, here again is what Warren Buffett, the president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, had to say about journalism and its business model: “We must rethink the industry’s initial response to the Internet. The original instinct of newspapers then was to offer free in digital form what they were charging for in print. This is an unsustainable model.”
That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing, and our hope is that it will enable us to play an even bigger role in the communities we cover nearly round the clock every day.
When I say that, I am referring to much more than the news we cover, the advertisers we serve, the window we provide into what experts around the world are saying about the issues that will determine our futures.
All of that is important, of course. But for those of us who work at The Sun News and make our homes from the southern edge of Georgetown County through Horry and into southern Brunswick County, N.C., making our communities better is equally important.
Since its beginning, The Sun News has played an active role in its communities. Yes, the journalists keep an eye on how our leaders are spending our tax dollars, but they, and the rest of The Sun News’ staff do what they can officially, and individually, to lend a hand in dozens of ways.
Most recently, for example, Kimberly Gary, Peggy Studds and Diana Fromal put together goody bags and spent several hours at Medieval Times one day in October to participate in the popular dinner theater’s annual Halloween party for more than 500 special needs youngsters from the area. Gary even donned our Sunny mascot costume to brighten their day. (More on that costume later).
A few weeks later, a dozen or so hardy staffers and their equally hardy family members joined other teams in a fund-raising dodge ball tournament at St. James Middle School to raise money for the Special Olympics. Instead of following the examples of day city editor Todd Garvin and columnist Issac Bailey and joining the team, I decided it would be easier to wear the Sunny costume than to dodge balls. Let’s just say that, a) it’s easier to dodge balls when you’re not wearing the costume, and b) I came away with new admiration for colleague Gary, who logged a lot more time in the heavy, hot and unwieldy costume than I did.
As I write this, Peggy Studds is tallying employee contributions to the United Way, and Salvation Army volunteers are getting set up in our warehouse space so they can begin collecting toys from the annual Angel Tree donations that ensure merry Christmas mornings to hundreds of needy area children. In a week or so, parents will begin arriving to pick up those donated toys, more than a few of which will have been donated by our employees. Oops, that reminds me: I still need to find some building blocks appropriate for a 2-year-old boy.
We’ve also teamed up with the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum for a Christmas coloring contest this year, and every spring The Sun News Educational Foundation interviews applicants for our annual college scholarships, a humbling task that always leaves us in awe of our area’s youngsters.
I realize this list, incomplete though it is, is more than a little self-serving. But it seemed important to reinforce this company’s commitment to its communities as we enter our new chapter as The Sun News+. As I said, that community service role goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to community journalism.
As always, I thank you for reading, and I thank my colleagues for giving.