Cleveland Website to Charge $3.99 Per Month for Twice Daily News Texts

Is this the future of paywalled journalism?

It’s no secret that newsroom jobs are on the decline, but what is the answer for outlets that want to generate enough revenue to keep their workforce intact? Some try ads, some try paywalls, and Cleveland.com, part of Advance Local, is trying subscription text messages for $3.99.

Advance Local has been working on Project Text, which allows reporters to send information on road closures, restaurant shifts, city council ordinances, and more twice a day, Nieman Lab reported on Wednesday.

Cleveland.com reporter Emily Bamforth covers the suburb of Lakewood and sends out twice-a-weekday “Lakewood Together” breaking news texts with the goal of getting users to subscribe after a free trial period.

Bamforth did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Last week, she wrote on Twitter, “So I haven’t addressed it here, but I’m trying out a new hyperlocal journalism project for @clevelanddotcom called ‘Lakewood Together.’ We launched on Monday & I’m really enjoying messaging back and forth with subscribers.”

“As a four-year resident of Lakewood, I was so excited to hear that I would be able to spend my days finding answers for my neighbors (and myself, let’s not lie.) If you ever have any questions/suggestions for me, feel free to reach out!” she added.

There’s no denying it’s an uphill battle. Newsroom employment has dropped 25% in the last decade. Hyperlocal reporters like Bamforth, who serves a community of about 50,000, are losing their jobs.

“We’re excited but we know that the odds are stacked against us: Anyone who has tried to tackle hyperlocal has died on the mountain,” Cleveland.com president Chris Quinn told Nieman Lab.

Maybe it’s the untraditional nature of Lakewood Together that will appeal to subscribers. Per Nieman Lab, Lakewood Together is the 67th project launched on Project Text — and the 11th or so from Cleveland.com —  but its coverage location is full of tech-savvy millennials.

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