This month’s issues of Reporter Newspapers, Atlanta Intown, and Silver Streak mark an exciting new beginning for the papers and our company.
In early January, we updated our logos (they are called “flags” in the newspaper world) as we rebranded the company under the Rough Draft Atlanta name. We will continue to use the Reporter, Intown, and Silver Streak in print, but Rough Draft Atlanta will be the digital home and umbrella brand for us.
Rough Draft gives us the ability to continue to build in new geographic and vertical markets in and around metro Atlanta and reflects a forward-looking brand that has proven to engage digital audiences.
It is said that journalism is the “first draft of history,” and by embracing Rough Draft as a company, we can honor this sentiment. We are committed to giving readers reliable, non-sensational local news, and providing our marketing partners with the best advertising products in the market.
How we do that, though, is changing. While we are committed to continuing to print monthly papers on the highest quality newsprint we can, in 2022, we transitioned to a digital-first newsroom.
Through this transition, the morning Rough Draft newsletter has become our daily touchpoint with our audience, and a flexible way to give advertisers engaging ways that stand out in the marketplace for creativity and effectiveness.
Our newsletter subscribers grew sixfold last year as we introduced vertical spinoffs including Scene, Side Dish, Silver Streak, and Sketchbook. I encourage you to subscribe to these newsletters by visiting RoughDraftAtlanta.com/newsletters.
The news business continues to be challenged with fears of a recession, changing reader habits, and, dare I say, corporate greed, wreaking havoc on large media companies. At the same time, the brutal economics of digital-only publishing make survival for even the most engaging small players extremely difficult.
National polls report that Americans’ trust in news is near all-time lows, and while my friends and I read and discussed “Newsweek” in high school civics class, today’s teens are more likely to get their news from TikTok than the daily paper. Elected leaders seem more interested in auditioning for a cable TV show than engaging on the most important issues. Whether it’s low information, disinformation, or no information, media literacy is a real issue we must handle as a society.
Meaningful, not massive
Despite these challenges, Rough Draft Atlanta is uniquely positioned to continue to grow. In 2022, our overall business grew by 17%, with digital revenue more than doubling, and print growing a modest 11%.
There is a lot of bad news in the world, and that’s part of the reason that people have become frustrated with the media. But, we know how important it is to be engaged in your local community, and that’s why we are focused on the communities where we live.
My goal is summarized on a Post-It Note that’s on my monitor: “Meaningful, Not Massive.” If we continue to give readers the news they need, as well as the news they crave, and deliver it in ways that they want to consume it, we believe we have a very bright future.
How you can help
An engaged audience is our most valuable asset.
If you like what we are doing, please tell your friends. Subscribe to a newsletter, share a story on social media, and support our advertisers.
We have also launched a membership program that allows you to contribute to our work and get special benefits in return. Rough Draft Atlanta looks sharp on tote bags, stickers, and hats, and those are some of the perks of membership. Plus, later this year we will introduce exclusive in-person events.
To learn more about this program, visit RoughDraftAtlanta.com/membership.