Why your membership support
is necessary to keep
local journalism thriving.

It's no secret that technology and the Internet are causing profound changes in the way we get our news about the world, the nation and our own local communities.

But few people realize the impact these changes are having on the media and the future of journalism... and ultimately the future of informed civic engagement and democracy. Google, Facebook, Twitter and blogs have become ubiquitous and a source of news for many, yet they employ no journalists, do not report on or question the activities of local government and take no responsibility for accuracy.

I am writing to you today because the viability of local journalism everywhere is now threatened, and the time has come to ask our readers and website visitors to pay some of the freight through paid subscription memberships.

Why should you pay for something that you're receiving for free?

The short answer is that it's only fair for readers to pay for a service they value, and that by paying a modest $5/month membership fee you can help ensure that Palo Alto continues to have a strong newspaper and community website covering what's happening in our town.

Until now, we have been able to rely completely on advertising by local businesses to sustain our journalistic work. But that business model has been undermined by the prolonged recession and by a shift in advertising to the Internet. For any serious publication to be able to continue to employ professional journalists who cover local news, readers need to start sharing the costs with advertisers.

Our reader surveys show intense support in the community for the Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Online, and a strong appetite for local news coverage. We were immensely gratified that a just-completed survey shows the Weekly is by far the best-read paper and Palo Alto Online the most-visited local website among residents.

Thus we turn to you, the ultimate beneficiaries of our journalism, to help sustain our efforts.

Instead of requiring paid subscriptions, our goal is for our readers to sign up as voluntary "members," through either an annual payment or (better for us) a recurring monthly credit card charge of $5 or more. You can do this very simply and securely online on this website.

All supporting members will be invited to special members-only events, receive a "Support Local Journalism" bumper sticker and special members-only offers from local businesses.

Whether you read the Palo Alto Weekly, turn to Palo Alto Online or rely on Express, our e-daily local news digest e-mailed each day, we urge you to show your support for quality local journalism by becoming a member today.

Thank you in advance for doing your share to maintain strong local journalism for the Palo Alto community.


Bill Johnson
Publisher