Recovery and publishing continues from the McKinley Park News home office in Chicago's McKinley Park neighborhood.

I Broke My Leg!

Published January 13, 2022

Greetings, readers, supporters and friends of the McKinley Park News!

It is a privilege to have your attention. Thank you for reading this “Letter From the Editor,” in which I’m happy to share some updates about what’s been going on and is coming up at our micro-local neighborhood news publication.

As astute readers have undoubtedly noticed, we have been on weeks-long hiatus from our regular neighborhood news reporting. A bit of self-care in the form of a long-overdue family holiday took a detour after a slip-and-fall laid me low with a broken fibula and bad sprain.

Solopreneurship Perils

Although recovery continues apace, the accident and resulting limited mobility both stretched out our news drought and delayed forward progress on some new features we’ve been developing. (For those unaware, the McKinley Park News is an unfunded, solopreneur-driven enterprise, so when its primary worker — me — gets knocked out of commission, our operations get hammered.)

Fortunately, we’re getting back into the groove with more reporting, cool new features and returning to important ongoing news stories. Our daily updates to subscriber content, as well as existing website content and features, have continued through both holiday and injury. We’ve also been hard at work updating our neighborhood events calendar for 2022.

Back To Coding

Much labor goes into parts of the McKinley Park News that are transparent to most users. We run our own technology, which enables independence of publishing and tools that meet our requirements, including those that support our trust-based operations for the benefit of users like you.

A hefty technical task looms: an upgrade to the next major version of the open-source software that powers the McKinley Park News. Because it makes sense to integrate other fixes and enhancements in such projects, we’re also going to implement long-planned improvements to infrastructure, user interface and website features.

Three Pillars of Publishing

Although there is great joy in coding — wonder and satisfaction at seeing self-built things in use — this necessary technical work takes time away from our core product of neighborhood news, as well as critically important attention to business and revenue. We unfortunately did not receive grant support in 2021 for development help, so we’ll once again roll up our shirtsleeves and do the coding ourselves.

The end result is that deadlines get stretched in all three pillars of our operations: editorial, technology and business. We so appreciate your and everyone’s patience as we juggle this work while continuing to grow the enterprise.

Support From Medill

We’ve been extremely fortunate to have received many types of significant support: from journalism and public interest institutions as well as Sponsors, advertisers and Subscribers. We are now most excited about working with a graduate class from Northwestern University’s Medill School – my alma mater – to examine website analytics toward improving user experiences, revenue results and more.

We also just now received word that the McKinley Park News has been accepted into the 2022 cohort of Medill’s Metro Media Lab, an incubator program that provides critical help, expertise and assistance to help local journalism outlets achieve sustainability. We couldn’t be more excited to be invited into this program, which begins this spring.

Make or Break

This year is make-or-break for us: Although our growth slowly and steadily progresses, and we’re successfully covering out-of-pocket costs (and even a couple pieces of needed equipment), the enterprise does not yet pay for our biggest labor cost: me. I currently receive no income, but instead plow all revenue back into the business.

Fully covering labor costs is not only crucial for meeting our goal of running a sustainable — and even thriving — local news business. There’s also the practical matter of generating personal income to cover living costs (and in my case showing some benefit from all this to my extremely patient wife and partner).

How You Can Help

McKinley Park News Show Your Pride house sp rectWe deeply appreciate everyone who’s supported us, which has been a critical part of our success thus far. If you’re interested in seeing our local news business continue, we invite you to show your support in any number of different ways:

  • Become a paid Subscriber. This costs only $29.95 per year ($99.95 for Gold Subscribers), and provides real value through daily updated crime reports, building permits and notable arrests; exclusive videos; and other Subscriber-only features.
     
    Current Subscribers: Renew before your subscription expires, and you’ll get an automatic 15 percent discount, adding a year onto your current subscription.
     
  • Sponsor and advertise. We offer very effective Sponsor presence and marketing on our highly regarded website and media channels. Our proven banner advertising delivers new customers and constituents to your door.
     
  • Buy a T-shirt. Show your pride in the neighborhood and local news with a high-quality T-shirt sporting unique graphics that showcase McKinley Park, the Central Manufacturing District, or Local News.
     
  • Send us your news. We want to tell your stories and share your work, events and accomplishments with the community. Send in your neighborhood news: a story or press release, an obituary, an event listing, or an idea for a Local Business Profile or Opinion/Editorial essay.
     
  • Sign up for a free account. Local non-profits, elected officials and community institutions can enjoy a free Institution account, which provides promotion and access to premium features on the McKinley Park News at no cost.
     
    Likewise, our free website membership confers great benefits, as does a free subscription to our email newsletter. Your engagement provides support, even if you’re not taking advantage of one of our paid services.
     
  • If you like us, let us know. It is a lonely journey to build something from nothing, especially in a battered industry where so many have given up on the business of news. Although I still fully believe in the business potential of local news, the methods we’re using to work toward success and our value as an in-demand product (and community good), the effort requires constant and ongoing endurance.
     
    One of the ways I know I’m successful as a journalist is through receiving scorn at various times from every color in our neighborhood’s political rainbow. Even though I know complaints flow more easily than compliments, it’s often challenging to stay motivated through the doldrums. If you like something we do, it really puts gas in our tank if you relate this in a comment or email, voice an “atta boy” or even pass along something we’ve done to share with others.

Thank You

Thank you again for your interest in the McKinley Park News, your patience with our publishing schedule and all of your support. We are looking forward to a successful 2022 serving the news and information needs of our neighborhood, and we can't do it without you.

All the best to you and yours!

Justin Kerr
  Publisher, McKinley Park News

Jim Reho
I'm sorry to hear about your injury. Best wishes for a complete and speedy recovery! The work you do is extremely valuable to McKinley Park and nearby areas. Keep up the good work and always watch your step.
Justin Kerr
Thanks so much! I just got word yesterday that no surgery is required! (Yay!) I lucked out. It looks like I'll be fully back and running around within a month, hopefully. Thank you for your encouragement!
Audrey Teabow
And this whole time I figured you were on vacation having a glorious time in a tropical palace. After all, that is what you deserve from all the work you provide for this neighborhood and beyond. You are much appreciated, and get well soon!
Justin Kerr
Thanks so much! I've been able to get around a bit more recently, and am recovering!

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