At least for now, ARLnow has weathered the storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and we’ve done it with your help.
Back in March and April, things were looking bleak. For a time, advertising sales were down over 40% and new sales had nearly stopped. We were staring into a void of financial losses and a worsening economic picture. But then things started going right.
Several hundred people joined our Patreon page. Others sent one-time donations via Paypal. Almost all of our ongoing advertisers stuck with us. And eventually, the financial outlook improved to the point where today we can say: we’re out of imminent danger.
Thanks to the support of our readers and advertisers, we have been able to retain our full-time staff and keep reporting, uninterrupted. We’re running pretty lean at the moment, and tired from months of a very busy news cycle, but we’re here.
The Patreon campaign was intended to be a temporary measure, and given that we’re in decent shape we are pausing billing for our members through at least September. As there is a very real risk of a second wave of infection hitting the region in the fall, we’d appreciate if those who joined can stay on until we know the coast is clear. We’ll continue to defer billing until a need returns, at which point we would let you know that the Patreon is being turned back on.
The pandemic has hit the media business, particularly local news, very hard, and we’re incredibly grateful to the Arlington community for your readership and support. It didn’t seem like the right time to brag about it, but at the height of the crisis we reached 2.5 million monthly pageviews, a new record and more than 1 million views over the record we set in February.
So thank you, Arlington. We look forward to continuing to serve the community for years to come.
– The ARLnow Team
Last month, ARLnow set a new all-time readership record: 1.45 million pageviews. In the nine days since the first coronavirus case was reported in Arlington, we have blown that away, setting fresh records every night.
For the past 30 days, we’ve served 600,000 readers and just under 2 million pageviews.
It has been an incredibly busy two weeks for ARLnow’s staff. We have been working around the clock to provide vital community coverage, continuing to dig up scoops while curating a large amount of information that has been coming in via email and social media. We have also been working to make sure we can continue to operate amid unprecedented business disruptions.
It seems like ages since our first staff meeting about coronavirus, on Friday, March 6 — before the NBA season was cancelled and the president went on TV.
Here’s part of the staff memo:
There are two schools of thought regarding the outbreak. One is that it’s not too bad and it’s going to be similar to the flu, and it will be business as normal in a few months. The other is that this is a “black swan event” that is a significant public health danger as well as a prolonged disruption to the economy. At this point, from what I’m seeing, I lean more toward the latter.
Obviously, the more alarmist-seeming (at the time) prediction proved to be very much correct.
We sent our editorial staff home the following Tuesday, after Arlington’s first confirmed case, and our business staff home shortly thereafter. We have been working remotely ever since, with the exception of our roving staff photographer, Jay Westcott, who is taking proper precautions to stay healthy.
Given the extraordinarily high readership ARLnow has been getting, we know that we have a big responsibility to keep the community well informed. And we are going to do just that, through thick or thin, to the best of our ability. Expect continued, up-to-the-minute coverage, including both enterprise reporting and curation of the firehose of press releases and info we’re getting, in the coming weeks.
But choppy seas are ahead. Advertising-supported local media in the D.C. area is hurting, as DCist reported today. ARLnow’s amazing advertisers have mostly stuck with us so far, but amid the chaos the usual steady flow of new sales has slowed to a trickle.
We have prided ourselves on making our reporting free for all, and not asking readers to support our ongoing operations. But this time things are different — we need your help to get through this. ARLnow runs a lean operation, and don’t have legacy newsprint costs to worry about, but we still have significant expenses — salaries, benefits, office rent (shout out to our friends at Techspace), and enterprise-grade web hosting, to name a few.
If you have enjoyed reading ARLnow over the past 10 years, and you have the means to give us a few bucks a month, we would very much appreciate you joining our Patreon.
If you would prefer, you can also send contributions via Paypal.
We have two Patreon tiers: $6 and $10 per month. Every little bit will help us get through this for the next couple of months. And when everything is back in business and we’re in the clear, we’ll let you know.
While we appreciate inquiries about giving more, the truth is there are plenty of local organizations and people that need it more urgently than us. Please give the big bucks to nonprofits like AFAC, A-SPAN, Arlington Thrive, the Arlington Community Foundation and others.
We are humbled by the trust Arlington has placed in us, in making ARLnow your go-to local news source. If you can go a step further and support us for the next few months, we would be extremely grateful. Maybe we’ll even throw a party when this whole thing is over.
Maybe it’s the lousy weather keeping everyone glued to their phones and computers. Maybe it’s people tiring of the endless stream of national political news. Or maybe there’s just been a lot going on locally.
Whatever the explanation, ARLnow has officially set a new 30-day web traffic record.
From Jan. 14-Feb. 12, a timeframe that includes a federal holiday, ARLnow recorded 1.453 million pageviews, breaking the old record of 1.43 million pageviews, set in 2016. While not a record, ARLnow also served just over 400,000 unique visitors over the past 30 days.
ARLnow’s sister sites also posted strong numbers during that time frame, according to Google Analytics:
- ALXnow, which launched this past fall, exceeded 150,000 pageviews and 55,000 unique visitors for the first time
- Reston Now exceeded 250,000 pageviews and 100,000 unique visitors
- Tysons Reporter exceeded 225,000 pageviews and 100,000 unique visitors
- In total, our owned-and-operated sites served 2.1 million pageviews and 660,000 unique visitors
Our partner site PoPville, meanwhile, recorded 2.26 million pageviews and more than 375,000 unique visitors. ARLnow’s parent company hosts and provides business services to both PoPville and RunWashington.com.
Network-wide, Local News Now sites served 4.4 million pageviews and — for the first time — just over 1 million unique visitors.
ARLnow and our sister and partner sites provide original journalism and other local content to the community thanks to the support of our local advertisers. For more information about growing your business via ARLnow — or our other sites — see our advertising information page.
ARLnow.com has set a new 30-day readership record.
From June 25-July 24, more than 400,000 unique users visited the local news site, viewing 1.41 million pages, according to Google Analytics. The average unique user, as measured by Google Analytics, read 3.5 pages during the month, though those returning 15 or more times throughout the month accounted for more than half of ARLnow’s pageviews.
The readership figures are the highest recorded since ARLnow launched in January 2010.
“The ARLnow team is immensely proud of the local journalism we’ve been producing this year — from comprehensive storm coverage to dogged local government reporting to longer-form, investigative pieces — and this new record serves as validation that those efforts are paying off,” said ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck. “Arlington is a fantastic community, with civically-engaged residents and commuters who care about the community they work in. Thank you to all of our readers who helped make this new record possible.”
ARLnow and its parent company, Local News Now, are also announcing the hiring of three new members of our team.
Ashley Hopko joined the company last month as an Editorial Fellow. A 2019 graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder’s journalism program, Hopko previously worked for Law Week Colorado and the student-led News21 investigative project. She is primarily reporting for Local News Now’s Tysons Reporter site, alongside editor Catherine Douglas Moran, but Hopko is also contributing to ARLnow.
Lene Query joined our company’s business team in May as an Account Executive, alongside Content Manager Turquoise Jackson. Bringing five years of retail and restaurant experience to the job, Lene (pronounced like “Layna”) is now the primary contact for clients seeking to place advertising on ARLnow or our other sites. She can be reached at [email protected] or 703-348-0583.
Jay Westcott will be joining us in September as our first full-time photojournalist. Jay’s 15 years of professional photography experience — he previously worked locally for TBD.com, Politico and the Washington Examiner — will help bring a new visual language to our local news sites and enhance our breaking news coverage. He will also produce video for certain projects.
The new hires will bring Local News Now’s full-time staff count to eight — made possible by our loyal advertisers and patrons, and our hard-working business team. Jordan Ciminelli, who led our business team since September 2017 and played a pivotal role in training and operations, departed earlier this month to join a new venture.
“At a time when local news is facing business model struggles around the country, thanks to our dedicated readers, advertising clients and employees, we’re able to grow as an organization,” said Brodbeck. “Our growth over the last decade has been slow compared to some of the local startups we’ve profiled over the years, but being the proverbial local news tortoise — with a commitment to quality journalism, business innovation and customer service — has allowed us to continue to find success.”
In March we celebrated a record month for readership. Today, on the eve of a Fourth of July holiday weekend, we’re doing it again.
In June, ARLnow.com was read by about 350,000 unique visitors who accounted for 1.43 million pageviews, a new record for the site.
Across our network of four sites — ARLnow.com, Reston Now, Hill Now and Borderstan — we saw a record 527,000 unique visitors and 1.92 million pageviews. In all, our sites have 94,953 subscribers/followers across email, Twitter and Facebook.
Borderstan, which serves mid-city D.C. communities like Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, U Street and Columbia Heights, hit a high water mark for readership since we relaunched it last year, with about 85,000 unique visitors and 200,000 pageviews.
“We want to thank our loyal, local readers for another great month,” said Scott Brodbeck, founder of Local News Now LLC, the publisher of ARLnow.com. “We’re looking forward to continuing to serve our communities with relevant, interesting and impactful local news and features.”
For the 30-day period ending March 24, LNN’s four sites — ARLnow.com, Reston Now, Hill Now and Borderstan — were visited by 435,000 unique visitors, according to Google Analytics. The sites collectively served 1.75 million page views during that time.
That’s a new record for LNN, which last year re-launched Borderstan, a D.C. neighborhood blog founded in 2008 and acquired from its original founders, while at the same time selling its Bethesda Now website to Bethesda Magazine. The record readership was driven by local stories — unlike past readership records, this time there was no spike in traffic from a story that received national attention.
LNN’s first community news site, ARLnow.com, was launched in January 2010. LNN only publishes online and has no print publications.
With offices in Arlington and D.C., LNN seeks to serve and improve our communities by keeping readers informed about local news that’s relevant to their lives — and by providing local businesses with effective and affordable online marketing options.