by Melanie Jongsma, Managing Editor
LANSING, Ill. (November 16, 2020) – One of the first jokes I remember hearing (from my dad) is the classic newspaper riddle:
Q: What is black and white and red all over?
A: A newspaper.
Of course, somewhat ironically, the joke doesn’t work as well in print as it does verbally, because the clever wordplay depends on the identical pronunciation of the words “red” and “read.” As a child, when I first heard the joke, I didn’t get it. “How is a newspaper red?” I asked. Once my dad explained that he had said “read,” not “red,” I was fascinated with how the set-up of the riddle had led me to one assumption, and the resolution made me see something different. (Yes, I’ve been a word nerd for a long time.)
I’ve been thinking of that riddle ever since Halloween. Josh Bootsma and I used it as the basis of our inexpensive costumes when we dressed up to hand out candy at Fox Pointe. I’m pretty sure none of our trick-or-treaters “got it,” but Beth Bozzo did, and she posted the correct answer on our Facebook page.
Black and white
And now I’m using that classic riddle to make a point about the printed newspaper we are planning to publish in approximately two weeks. The “black and white” has been paid for—we have over 20 advertisers who are paying to put their advertising message in this newspaper and have it delivered to 12,000 homes. Those advertising dollars will cover the cost of black ink on white pages, as well as the process of delivering those printed newspapers.
But what about the “read all over”? That’s the content—the articles you look forward to reading. The photographs that show what’s been happening in our community. The bylines of hardworking reporters who spend hours writing, editing, and re-writing.
We don’t have those costs covered yet. And, if you don’t mind the wordplay, we don’t want to go in the red in order to be read.
So we need some green.
We don’t know yet how many articles will be included in the 20-page print edition. It’s a limited amount of space, and we want to cram as much content as possible into it. We want to show off the work of our journalists, and we want to get important, community-building information into the hands of our readers.
As I mentioned in an editorial last week, the costs of the actual news are “softer” than the hard costs of ink and paper. There’s no straightforward valuation of the time, thought, and skill associated with writing articles.
But if you need a hard number for these soft costs, I can tell you that we pay our freelance journalists $60 for each article they write (though they are worth much more). If we manage to fit 20 articles into the December print issue, that will cost $1,200. And that’s a bargain.
Obviously, I don’t expect each reader to pay $60 for each article she reads. But if everyone contributed something, we’d have more than enough. Imagine what we could do if every household in Lansing contributed the cost of just one or two articles!
So please, consider helping. Consider giving a little green, so the black and white (which is already paid for) can be read all over.
Monthly green helps sustain this community newspaper:
Occasional green helps with special projects like the December print issue:
Friends and fellow community members, thank you for whatever you can do. We appreciate your support!