How it works: The F.A.Q.s

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Many people have asked us about news we’ll be covering, but an equal number have asked questions about how the Sun’s website, worcester.ma, will work. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Are you a paid site? Yes. Reading our journalism requires a membership, which you know is $2 per week. We’re most excited about offering fixed-term memberships. You can become a member and support local journalism without being stuck with a recurring credit card charge. We have various membership lengths, and each term has nonrecurring or recurring options. You are in control.

Does everything require a membership? No. We’ll have a few free things at first. Each week we’ll preview the coming issue with an article titled, “In this issue.” Next, you may have seen we publish obituary listings. We provide that daily list as a reader service. Most of those links open directly on the funeral home’s website; none of them go to our site, nor do we make any money on them. The daily articles of obituary listings are also free. Lastly, from time to time we’ll publish an article in the section Sun Common. Sun Common is a section that allows for anonymous comments. Most of the time we’ll use this to gain feedback from nonmembers.

How can I decide if it’s worth paying for if I can’t read it? Our weekly “In this issue” article will be free to read and should give you enough information to make a decision.

Do I have to wait and come to the site each Sunday to see what’s there? No. We’ll publish our “In this issue” article before publication. Those on our email list will see it first. We’ll then also post links to it on our Facebook page and Twitter feed. To ensure you never miss a thing, though, please join our mailing list. You can opt in when you become a member or sign up on the homepage.

What’s the best way to keep up with what you’re doing? Simple: Sign up for our email newslist. You can do so on our homepage or check the box when you become a member. When we have something to announce, we will do it in the following order: members email, email newslist subscribers, our site, social networks. Because publishers increasingly have to pay to reach their followers on social networks, there’s a good chance you could miss it. For that reason, we deliver emails first.

Will there be ads on the site? Nope.

Did you understand the question? Yes, and the answer is still no. This does not mean we believe there’s no future in online marketing within our product. We believe there is, but we believe this future should not include banner ads, which cause long delays in page load and pretty much destroy the reading experience on a hand-held device.

When will you launch a Sunday print edition? It depends. We have membership goals we need to reach to be able to hire enough journalists to put out a paper we’re proud of and our members deserve. When we reach the number, we go — simple as that.

Isn’t planning a Sunday newspaper the worst idea ever? We don’t believe so. Even statistics that show the newspaper business reeling still show it convenes the largest, most engaged audience. Readers also engaged with newspaper ads more deeply than ads in any other medium.

The key for us is that we don’t believe print will be around forever. Five years? Almost certainly. Ten years? Perhaps. We’re not going to put all of our eggs in one basket. Successful media companies are diversified. Print, to us, is not an end in itself. We think of it as the solid rocket boosters that can get us into a stable, sustainable orbit.

So, you’re going to be doing other things? Yes. We think sooner rather than later. Keep an eye out.

Aren’t you competing with the Telegram & Gazette and others? We don’t see it that way. If the digital age has taught us anything, it’s that it can serve multiple audiences. Everyone in the market does what they do well. We have a focus and we believe there’s an audience for the type of civic-oriented journalism we produce. We want to be the best at what we do, nothing else.

Who built your website? Worcester.ma is a WordPress site built using the Largo theme. Largo was developed by the Institute for Nonprofit News, formerly the Investigative News Network. It was created using grant money, a provision of which was that the theme be open-sourced.

Who handles your memberships and payments? Clickshare Service Corp. of Amherst. Clickshare has a growing list of media customers, including GateHouse Media, owner of the Telegram & Gazette, and handles more than 3 million accounts worldwide.

What will you do for article comments? From time to time, we’ll publish something in the Sun Common category. We’ll post things to solicit feedback or convene an audience. This is open to anyone. We’ll have comments on the journalism we produce. Our fervent hope is that because only members can read the stories, we’re more likely to keep the discussion polite and on track. (Remember, even if you choose to be anonymous, the comment connects to your membership). Our rules: no profanity, no allegations of wrongdoing, no name-calling, etc.

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