Celebrating our 4th anniversary
This month, the Heights Observer begins its fourth year of publication. It’s an underfunded, seat-of-the-pants community news organization managed essentially by one staff person, compiled by a few dozen regular volunteers, and written by contributors numbering in the hundreds.
Considering all that, I’m not only impressed by the impact it seems to have, I’m also amazed that it comes out month after month. The Heights Observer is clearly getting stronger.
Our first issue ran 16 pages and had 10 advertisers. This issue—our largest to date—consists of 24 pages supported by more than 50 display advertisers (not including classifieds).
Our website has grown too. In the past 30 days, about 2,600 individuals visited HeightsObserver.org. That’s up 80 percent from just six months ago. People made a total of 4,700 visits, up 101 percent in the same time period; and viewed more than 15,000 pages, a 99 percent increase. Our new blog site, (http://blogs.heightsobserver.org/) launched Feb. 2, already draws more than 2,000 visits a month.
The Heights Observer is self-funded. While launched with the help of a few grants, it has run for the last two years on the revenue generated from advertising. But it doesn’t yet generate a surplus.
Deanna Bremer Fisher wears two hats: she is publisher of the newspaper and executive director of FutureHeights (www.futureheights.org), which pays a larger share of her salary than it should, considering the amount of her time that the Observer requires.
So, the Observer is not yet self-sustaining. It continues to need support—indirectly from individuals via their FutureHeights membership; and directly from businesses, whose advertising purchases go right back into the very community they serve.
Not everything we’ve done has succeeded. Our online forum, conceived as a place for open discussion about life and issues in the Heights, has never really taken off. A few volunteers are starting work to revitalize that part of the Observer portfolio and would welcome any help with that.
On the whole, however, I’m pleased with where we stand. I want to thank and congratulate our tiny staff, our contributors, our regular volunteers, our advertisers and all of our readers for playing a role in creating an informed and engaged community.
To express your opinion privately, e-mail Bob Rosenbaum at email@example.com. To express your opinion as a letter to the editor, register at the Observer Member Center (www.futureheights.org) and click on "Submit New Story" to contribute your letter.
Bob Rosenbaum, chairman of the Observer's editorial advisory committee and FutureHeights board member, writes this column to provide transparency and understanding about the Observer.
Bob Rosenbaum is a Cleveland Heights resident and chairman of the FutureHeights Observer committee.