TH Media is a local, employee-owned media company which is the single largest source of local journalism in the area. Publishing through our local print, digital, and event platforms, TH Media reaches a large audience in the Dubuque community and surrounding area.
Important local topics include city, county and state governments, our education systems, local health issues, business, events, and more. We help preserve democracy by creating and sustaining a more informed citizenry, a more involved community, and more accountable elected officials.
Local news media has traditionally been supported by advertising and subscriptions. Competition for advertising dollars, local retailers, and reader attention from large, international companies that specialize in search, social, and shopping have eroded local news organizations' ability to provide quality local journalism. Many are turning to a third source, direct community contributions (philanthropy) to bridge the gap and keep local journalism alive.
By contributing to the Local Journalism Support Fund you can help support local reporting on topics of importance that wouldn't otherwise be able to be accomplished. We are focused on solutions-based journalism, meaning we work to identify issues, causes, and potential solutions to key challenges in the community. We also serve in the multifaceted role of partnering with local entities in this process, communicating their individual and collective initiatives, and reporting on both successes and shortcomings in those initiatives.
You can help create and sustain this through your tax-deductible donation to the Community Foundation's Local Journalism Support Fund.
Important note: contributions to this fund will only be used for the direct support of program participant(s)' payroll, benefits, and reporting tools. No money will be used for company overhead or "profit."
TH Media's mission is "Connecting Our Community." To do this we need local, boots-on-the-ground people to research and report on the topics and issues that are important to us all.
Giving thanks for (and preserving) local journalism
By BOB WOODWARD
Publisher, TH Media
As we approach the time of year when we give thanks for all the good things in our lives (friends, family, our good health and more) I hope you will also give thanks for having a locally-owned, independent news organization in your community. And I hope you will consider how you can help sustain that.
When our "founding fathers” (and yes, they were all males at the time) created the country and our Constitution, the First Amendment they made in 1791 included the freedom of the press. Why? Because they knew that a free press would help make better, more informed citizens and perform the important role of tracking how government makes policy and spends taxpayer dollars, as well as generally reporting on the goings on in our communities.
Over the past two decades several major forces have worked to threaten local journalism. Digital search advertising began taking away a significant portion of the advertising that helped sustain local newspapers and keep subscription costs lower than the printing and distribution costs incurred. Then social media added to the challenge by stealing both attention and advertising, while also adding algorithms to reinforce our current attitudes and opinions in order to benefit their business model. This has helped to advance misinformation and further divide our country.
Further, online shopping has created both challenges and opportunities, but the largest company has made it difficult for local retailers -- most of whom are (or were) our advertisers. In short, every community newspaper in the country has faced declining revenues at the same time its role in the community has never been more needed and important.
To be sure, TH Media and many of our peers have been transforming ourselves into increasingly digital media companies, providing stories, photos, videos, digital ads, events and more to meet the ever-evolving needs of our diverse audiences. At the same time, we continue to provide a physical product to a large and loyal (yet slowly shrinking) group of those who prefer print. All the while we face unprecedented increases in the costs to print and distribute printed newspapers. For example, paper prices have increased 31% in the last year, along with ink and press plates prices. The postal service has implemented 6%-9% increases twice a year, with more forecasted, while gas prices are 76% higher than two years ago, as illustrated below.
For our part, we are gratified to have been recognized as the Iowa Newspaper Association’s Newspaper of the Year for 2022 (as determined by an independent group of judges from the Oklahoma Press Association). We feel that is a great testament to the level of investment we continue to make in our newsroom reporters, editors, photographers, print and digital platforms.
It’s against this background that local media stands as an important part of the community, sustaining local journalism, telling the local stories that help connect our community. Our TH Media employee owners (you knew that we’re 98% employee-owned, right?) are committed to providing important, fair, accurate and balanced news, sports, and other content to our audiences every day. More to the point, the community has identified the rising incidence of poverty in the area as a major concern. The City of Dubuque commissioned a study which identified rising poverty as a priority to be addressed, then created an office to help identify causes and potential solutions. Greater Dubuque Development Corp. included poverty as one of most important issues to be addressed locally. And both United Way and the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque agree and have poverty as part of their focus.
In July of this year we welcomed our first Report For America reporter, Joshua Irvine. Josh’s nearly exclusive role is to report on poverty issues in our area. While Josh was hired by, and reports solely to, our local newsroom, he is partially funded by RFA. The remainder of his compensation needs to be raised through donations.
We partnered with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque to establish the Local Journalism Support Fund. Donors can give to the non-profit fund through the foundation. We’ve set a goal of raising $100,000 to fund this initiative. It goes solely to cover pay and benefits for this reporter position over three years. As of this writing we’ve raised 40% of our goal.
Here’s how you can help. If you’d like to support this fund, go to TelegraphHerald.com/donate. More broadly, if you want to support local journalism in the Dubuque area, additional ways are through your advertising (from which we can help target your organization’s message through print, digital and events) and subscriptions (through which you can stay up to date on local businesses, schools, government and other important stories. Covering those stories for us will be Maia Bond, our Health and Poverty Reporter.
Our mission is Connecting Our Community. To do that we need your help. Thanks in advance for your continued support!