Peter Rice is the editor of the Downtown Albuquerque News.

551. Reader-supported, hyper-local newsletter thrives in downtown Albuquerque

Peter Rice has recreated that concept for the digital age and thinks this is the way more news outlets should operate. 

Way back when, it wasn’t uncommon for small towns to have their own newspapers, filled with the stories and goings-on that mattered to people who lived there. 

“Local news should be like a friend you enjoy catching up with occasionally. It should not be a helicopter parent that won’t leave you alone, which is unfortunately the model ad-supported media have to use,” says Rice, editor of the Downtown Albuquerque News. “Newsletters are a kinder, gentler way to satisfy customers and make money.” 

Rice started his publication, affectionately called DAN, in the summer of 2019 after being “infuriated or angered at some point” in the early 2000s about the decline of newspapers and “the almost self-immolation of the news business. I couldn’t escape the suspicion that the business was not as hard as the industry was making it look. It was very clear it had to change.” 

While newspapers went online, keeping their content free and hoping advertisers would come with them, Rice thought there had to be a better way, especially because “the overhead of the news business was about to go way down. Distributing digital media is about 3 percent of the cost of the old model, which literally involved loggers and truckers.” 

Why not just give people their local news, ask them to pay for it, and kick advertisers to the curb? 

“If these papers could convert even a third or a half of their subscriber base, which was already in the habit of paying for news, if they could just get them to continue paying for news in a different format, in retrospect we could’ve avoided a lot of the carnage we’ve seen in American newsrooms and all these news deserts that have been so depressing and threatening of self-government in general,” he says. 

And that’s how DAN started. ‘It’s basically just a dead-simple business model that I thought they should’ve been using all along. It is the old-fashioned business model, it’s just very low overhead, because the technology takes out the printing and the ink and the distribution cost for the most part. What do you have when you have the old newspaper model with no advertising and no overhead? You’ve got readers paying money for news.” 

Peter Rice, editor of the Downtown Albuquerque News, explains how he may have cracked the local news sustainability problem with a reader-supported, hyper-local newsletter.

Allison Taylor-Levine

625. Community collaboration key to evolving local journalism

Allison Taylor Levine, CEO of Local Journalism Initiative, discusses how LJI’s Delaware Journalism Collaborative, which has brought more than 25 partners throughout the state together to report on polarization and possible solutions, strengthens local journalism in Delaware and our democracy.

Listen »

More Episodes

Author Chris Spitale

539. Winning the battle against disinformation

Author Samuel “Chris” Spitale talks to It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell the rise disinformation, the need for media literacy, and his new book: “How to Win the War on Truth: An Illustrated Guide to How Mistruths are Sold, Why They Stick and How to Reclaim Reality.”

Listen »

287. That time of year when reporters count backwards

In the spirit of counting backwards, Jason Fraley, entertainment editor at WTOP in Washington, D.C., and the co-host of the Capital Culture podcast joined It’s All Journalism producer Michael O’Connell in studio to count down the top movies of 2017.

Listen »
Ted Mellnik and Steven Rich are database editor at The Washington Post.

314. Data reporting fuels Washington Post’s massive homicide project

Washington Post database editor Steven Rich and Ted Mellnik join producer Michael O’Connell to discuss their massive undertaking: requesting and analyzing homicide and case closure rates from 50 cities across the United States. They talk about the disparities that exist in a single city and how data reporting no longer requires looking through filing cabinets but, instead, requires the ability to read and interpret data files.

Listen »

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

To get all the the latest news about our podcast, including guests and special events, fill out the form below to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.