- Country Caller doubles down on commitment to quality regional journalism
- Calls for audience support with $8 monthly membership subscriptions
- Full access, weekly newsletter and mobile app available to members
Three years ago, almost to the day and on little more than a whim, I googled “purchase domain name” and spent $11 for ownership of the website countrycaller.com.au.
The name Country Caller had for some reason popped into my head. To me it sounded both rural and ‘newspapery’.
I wanted to create a masthead for a modern, digital news publication that somehow paid tribute to the traditional print medium.
So I wrote “Country Caller” in a nice Old English font, turned the words into a jpeg and – voila – there was my logo.
I found a friendly and affordable web design whizz named Sunil, and between us we turned my vague vision for a rural news publication into, pretty much, the same Country Caller website you see today.
The feedback I’ve received from readers over the past three years has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m very grateful for the encouragement.
Not only has the Country Caller’s audience seemed to appreciate my content, but the media industry has too.
Over the first ten years of my career I never won any journalism awards. Over the past three years, the Country Caller has been recognised with five journalism awards.
Finding and producing the stories has been the easy part. My career has taught me how to do that.
The hard part has been generating an income from those stories.
Before Country Caller, my job was to produce the best news stories I could and give them to a newspaper editor or a television news director.
I’d file the content and the company news machine would do the rest. My wage would reliably land in my bank account every month.
Nowadays I produce the best news stories I can, share them on the internet, and hope they’ll be read or viewed by a large number of people.
I then sell advertising based on the amount of traffic and engagement the Country Caller website and social media channels generate.
It’s a tough gig, especially for someone who’s a journalist by trade and not an advertising salesman, and for someone who’s selling ads for a publication they created themselves only recently.
And while it is a hard sell, in a competitive market and tough economy, I’ve managed to develop a humble list of clients who’ve put their trust in the Country Caller’s advertising services.
WATCH: Country Caller advertising content – BEEF 21
Like the readers, feedback from clients has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m very grateful for their support.
I firmly believe in the Country Caller’s advertising products.
They’ve generated ticket sales for event promoters, new clients for professional service providers, goodwill for bush politicians and exposure for startups, among other client benefits.
In recognition of the Country Caller’s editorial quality and business potential, the publication has been awarded grants from the Meta Australia News Fund, administered by the Walkley Foundation.
These grants have allowed me to temporarily employ Caitlin Crowley and Kate Banville, both of whom are seasoned media experts with portfolios to prove it.
Caitlin was a WIN News television reporter who advanced to senior editorial management roles before becoming involved with the Country Caller about 18 months ago.
Kate started her professional life in the army before working in various reporting roles for News Corp, Channel 10 and the ABC.
I couldn’t ask for better teammates to help take the Country Caller forward.
The three of us share a passion for quality journalism and a belief that it should be available to regional communities.
We all agree that the most interesting news stories come from regional Queensland, and also that not enough of those stories are told.
From today, as a team, we’re doubling down on our efforts to deliver more news content via Country Caller, to the publication’s award-winning standard.
We intend to focus more on the news and less on the advertising, more on generating rich content and less on the pressure of generating traffic on the website.
We want to put high quality, original and exclusive journalism in front of our readers for them to engage with because it interests them, not because we need viewership to attract advertisers.
Since the start, I’ve hoped followers of the Country Caller realised that ‘what you click on is what you get’.
I’ve stuck to a rule of ‘no click bait articles’, even though that’s undoubtedly been to the detriment of our potential advertising offering.
To continue providing this news service sustainably (with a growing and increasingly expensive operation) we need to make a significant change to the Country Caller’s business model.
Today we launch Country Caller memberships, providing a service to loyal readers who like our content and are happy to tip in a few dollars a month so that we can continue producing it.
For the cost of two coffees per month, members will have unrestricted access to the Country Caller’s entire editorial suite.
They can absorb all of our news content at any time via the web or via the Country Caller’s mobile app.
We’ll also deliver a curated newsletter, which breaks down the week’s news and presents it quickly and conveniently, directly to your email inbox every week.
The cost of a Country Caller membership is a flat rate of $8 per month.
Non-members will still be able to access some Country Caller stories.
SLIDESHOW: Three years of memorable headlines
We’ll decide on a case-by-case basis which stories go behind a paywall and which stories go in front of a paywall, but always remaining free to access will be the stories which relate to public safety – natural disaster messaging from authorities, Amber Alerts and the like.
The stories to which Caitlin, Kate and I have applied our best journalism expertise, our years of experience and our professional analysis, and those for which the Country Caller has invested financially to produce, we believe are worth paying for.
We believe that $8 per month in exchange for consistently high quality news content about regional Queensland, which isn’t found elsewhere, is a fair transaction. We trust you feel the same.
By becoming a Country Caller member you’ll be supporting an independent news organisation which, from day one, has continued its mission to advocate for rural and regional Queensland.
You can subscribe HERE, or by clicking one of the banner ads within this article.
Thank you for your support,