Why Is ELi Trying a Paper Edition?

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ELi's paper edition is extending our reach and broadening support.

The ELi staff is super excited about the production of our first-ever paper edition! Would you like us to mail you a copy to give us feedback? Just fill out this form. (Supplies are limited, and we’re doing first-come, first-served). You can also see the PDF version here, although it’s much easier to look at on paper. We absolutely love the design produced for us by Cait Palmiter.

Why would we try a paper edition?

As you may know, ELi has been serving this community as a nonprofit, factual and investigative news organization since September 2014. For over six years, we have been producing critical news about the City of East Lansing’s government, East Lansing Public Schools, local elections, policing, arts, businesses, and much more.

Until now, it’s all been online. But we’ve heard steadily over the years from our senior citizen community that this isn’t good enough in terms of really serving that important segment of our population. We also know that we are failing to reach people with no or poor internet connectivity, including some folks on the lower end of the income spectrum. Mailing and dropping off stacks can help us reach more demographics.

We’ve also heard from sister nonprofit local news publications around the country that, if we produce a paper edition even infrequently and drop stacks in coffee shops and community centers, we will reach people we would not have otherwise and get them connected to our free service.

This seems especially important because we have a transient student population in East Lansing – undergrads and grads – and we hear from them that they only find us late in their years at MSU. If we drop copies where our community’s students are to be found, we can get them connected sooner to ELi!

The reasons we haven’t been delivering on paper are twofold: expense and environmental concerns. Taking these into account, we have decided to attempt an experiment in which we provide a limited run on paper of select articles from the last month. We are going to see if the benefits outweigh the costs, and – as with all our work – keep assessing what we should be doing on our budget.

Speaking of our budget, here’s something you should know about us: We run almost entirely on donations from this community. (We are an IRS-recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit, which means donations to ELi are tax deductible.) And we keep expenses very low.

One thing we like about a paper edition is the good possibility that businesses will be interested in paying for sponsorships spots that can then be used to fund our work.

We want to hear any feedback you have! The whole point of ELi is to be here for the community. So, tell us what you think we need to know about the possibility of continuing a paper edition, about our reporting, about the layout of this prototype, who might sponsor the paper edition – whatever you want to share. Thank you!

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