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Readers: A Message from RCN Editor About Memberships, Expansion

A message from Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Telling Covington's story at this important time in its history is more than an honor. It's a thrill, every single day.

The highs and lows, the triumphs and falls, the victories and defeats in Covington have been told here at The River City News for the past two years with more passion and commitment than anywhere else, than ever before.

It's a commitment not taken lightly.

The stakes are too high for Covington as it stands poised to return to its proper place as the crown jewel of Northern Kentucky and it requires careful attention and tenacious dedication to tell its story properly.

Half-hearted interest and inconsistent coverage from the out-of-state establishment media and its drive-by attitude toward our city is more than disgraceful.

It's offensive.

For the past two years, The River City News has strived to fill that void deliberately left in the media landscape and it is in these pages that you have read the most comprehensive coverage of your city government, your school board, your neighborhoods, your businesses, your people, and you.

The River City News is the voice of a new Covington.

It's a voice that is ready to scream louder than ever before.

Launching a new media enterprise is no easy task and there have been countless failed attempts across the country, but it is my belief that this is different and that this is special and that this is worth fighting for.

Covington is worth fighting for.

The time has come for The River City News to grow in its scope of coverage and to strengthen its grip on the pulse of Covington and also the rest of the neighboring River Cities of Northern Kentucky.

When I founded this effort two years ago, I called it The River City News for a reason: One day it would be ready to expand into a prominent role in the region's conversation.

Thanks to you and the thousands of others that read RCN every day, that moment has arrived.

With your faith and support, we'll write the next chapter of our region's history together.

The Need

I was covering a recent meeting at Covington City Hall and revelations about a city commissioner's past caught the attention of the Cincinnati media and they all showed up with their cameras.

This was an important meeting.

But that fact was lost on the out-of-state reporters who kept their cameras off, waiting till the end of the meeting to turn them on in hopes of getting a comment from the commissioner for the 11 o'clock broadcasts.

Nevermind that multiple buildings, including City Hall itself, were on the agenda for redevelopment purposes. Nevermind that right before their closed eyes, a path was being laid out to make Downtown Covington the envy of the region.

No, they wanted a comment. A comment that they never got. At the meeting's end, the commissioner bolted for the exit and one TV reporter chased after, shouting for a comment as her photographer rolled the camera.

Realizing her efforts were futile she turned to a man who accompanied the commissioner to the meeting and asked, "Sir, are you her husband?"

"No," he said, and walked on.

The man was not the commissioner's husband. He was and is the chairman of the Covington Board of Education.

The moment struck me as significant for The River City News because it demonstrated just how out of touch the Cincinnati media can be when it comes to nuanced understanding of a city as complex as Covington.

Then came news last week that multiple Northern Kentucky reporters for the Cincinnati Enquirer were let go and that the region's largest daily paper was placing its remaining Kentucky reporters at its offices in Downtown Cincinnati.

(Editor's note: While multiple reporters based in Northern Kentucky were laid off by the Enquirer, Editor Carolyn Washburn tells The River City News that through a restructuring process the paper will have the same number of reporters in Northern Kentucky and that those reporters will work out of the Cincinnati office and the Northern Kentucky office.)

The Enquirer and the local TV stations have many talented reporters that I admire greatly, but If you thought Covington and Northern Kentucky were an afterthought for the corporate chain media's leaders before, what can we expect now?

The Next Chapter

The River City News is moving in the opposite direction of the establishment media. We're adding more writers and more regular coverage areas in Northern Kentucky, expanding into Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Ludlow, Bromley, and Taylor Mill.

The passionate coverage you find here every day about Covington will soon include those sister cities of ours up and down the Ohio and Licking Rivers (and if that works as well as we hope it will, we'll be coming for the rest of the region soon enough).

A great city deserves a great newspaper and we are going to work our tails off every day to be that great newspaper, one that knows and understands the community it serves.

One that is based in the community it serves.

One that cheers for its successes and uncovers its failures. One that asks the tough questions and tells you the answers.

And we're going to do it with even more zeal for creativity and originality than before.

Here's a glimpse at what you can expect: More multimedia with videos and audio podcasts that dive deeper into the issues, a video series about our community starting with a four-part series focusing on the Covington Police Department to be launched this winter, and a weekly print edition.

A weekly print edition?

Yes, a weekly print edition.

"But print is dead!"

No, it's not. And we're going to show you just how alive it is with a publication that explores the big issues facing our community and the events, activities, and people that make us unique while offering a platform for our businesses to reach the customers that are most immediately accessible to them.

These are exciting times in our River City!

Over the next several weeks in August, we'll roll out more details about each of these exciting additions to our efforts to serve our community more effectively with the type of coverage and attention it deserves.

Keeping The River City News Strong

What we plan to do with The River City News is an ambitious and lofty goal but one that I have no doubts about achieving.

Since its inception, people have often asked me, "How do you make money?"

The short answer is, I don't. Not yet, anyway. We've sold some ads here and there but the strong focus has been on generating great, important content.

I wanted to build the audience and that audience's trust before worrying about funds. I know I've built the audience and I'm hopeful that I've built the trust.

And now, to build the funds.

Starting in September, The River City News will unveil a membership program that we hope you will want to be a part of.

Great content is not easy to produce and the small (very small) army of writers I've got waiting in the wings are talented enough to pull it off.

I can't wait to show you what we're really capable of.

So here's the deal: Beginning in mid-September, access to RCN's exclusive content will be a benefit for our members. There will be three levels of membership: $2.99 per month will give members access to all of RCN's content, $4.99 per month will give members access to all of RCN's content plus a twice-weekly email with special deals exclusive to this level of membership, and a $9.99 per month membership will come with all the benefits of the first two levels in addition to 10% savings on all items in RCN's merchandise store.

Oh yeah, we're launching a merchandise store.

You'll be able to find all the RCN swag you can handle - coffee mugs and bumper stickers, etc. - but you'll also fall in love (we hope) with our exclusive line of T-shirts that pay homage to the old businesses that once thrived in Old Covington's heyday.

At RCN, we always look forward but are committed to paying homage to where we came from.

(And these shirts are going to be really sweet. I've seen them! Oh, and that's not all... so stay tuned!)

Outside of membership, RCN will offer five free articles per month to new readers and those who only read that many to begin with. But for those of you who truly appreciate the daily focus and constant attention to our city's needs and goals, you will have full access to the content for those low rates listed above.

Let's Do This

Look, I know we've all grown accustomed to getting content free online, but those days are dwindling.

You know the old cliche, "You get what you pay for."

It's true.

If you pay nothing for content, eventually the content becomes nothing.

I want Covington and The River City News to be something.

Something special. Something that sets a standard to be admired across the nation.

Lofty, I know.

Totally possible, I also know.

And like I said, there will be more information coming all month long about what the plans are, what they'll look like, and what we hope they mean for all of us.

I hope you'll give some serious thought to joining The River City News as we work tirelessly to change the face of the media landscape in our region and really, our country.

Local journalism can be local again.

Just like it has been for two strong years right here in this community, right here in these pages.

I look forward to hearing from all of you.

Join us at Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail me directly.

Are you a freelance writer looking to contribute to this exciting effort? E-mail me.

Are you a local business looking to advertise with the only full-time news operation based in Northern Kentucky's urban core? E-mail me.

Are you ready for the next chapter? I know I am. See you there!

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

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