I hate scrambled eggs.
Weird, right? But I just couldn’t do it. Not scrambled, or sunnyside up — forget deviled. Never. Not sure what it is about ‘em.
It wasn’t every Sunday, but most Sunday mornings turned into a showdown. See, dad was having eggs, and mom was having eggs, and my brother was having eggs. So, guess who else was having eggs? Scrambled. Even made them myself sometimes. But eat them?
I never could outlast mom. (Who could? You? Pfft.) Oh, I tried, but the longer I abstained, the better chance my plate of eggs had of ending up in the fridge for a while — depending on that morning’s sense-of-humor index. Of course, I knew from experience that cold eggs are even worse than warm, but I was too stubborn to cave — in time anyway. Maybe I’d have liked scrambled eggs if I’d ever eaten them warm?
Maybe I’d have been able to spend a little more time with that other staple of my childhood Sunday morning memories.
Many of my earliest and best recollections involve bounding downstairs on a Sunday morning to unfurl — neatly, very neatly, across the shaggy brown living room carpet — the prodigious and authentically broad-sheeted Sunday Telegram.
Not an egg yolk or a griddle in sight.
Mark and I are of the age to recall when grabbing breakfast and the newspaper, not necessarily in that order, was the signature Americana Sunday morning ritual. They completed each other.
The Sunday paper was substantial, authoritative. Over time, we learned reverence for the names of people we had never met. They told us things we didn’t know. Made us consider things in ways we hadn’t. (Editor’s note: And the comics, let’s be honest. Beetle Bailey!)
We trusted them, enjoyed their company and always looked forward to their next Sunday visit.
That feeling, those memories, are at the core of what we want the Worcester Sun to be.
We have spent more than a year honing our business plan — let’s be honest, plans — and editorial/storytelling priorities. We have built a significant and growing network of contributors that we believe rivals any staff in the city. We have learned from prestigious advisers and entrenched city leaders. The contributors to this inaugural edition have more than 175 years of experience in the field of journalism, more than 125 of them in Worcester.
We have chosen a humble office setting in a prime, historic downtown location. We have developed a fully responsive, user-friendly website design with mobile users top of mind. We have enlisted the help of folks and firms almost exclusively centered in and around Worcester. We have not for one second forgotten that a local news organization is a public trust, and that in order for us to succeed, we must never take our readers or their community for granted.
We have decided to make our journalism available only by subscription, and to charge each member $2 a week.
Wait, what now?
We believe the best model for sustainable and authentically local journalism involves an invested readership. You, dear readers, are our shareholders.
We have created a number of membership options for you. We came to the term “membership” because we know that we’re in this together. We understand that asking you to pay for a digital-only product has been seen as a precarious proposition, and we acknowledge that there is a plethora of free media content available in Worcester.
We would argue, of course, that you’ll be getting a much bigger bang for your two bucks with the journalism featured in the Worcester Sun.
We will focus on solutions more than problems. We will highlight difference-makers who have toiled in the shadows. We will explore history, in hopes of not being doomed, and we will look to the future, with the countless innovators and entrepreneurs climbing the Seven Hills. We will share thoughtful opinions and thought-provoking commentary. We will engender lively and intelligent debate.
We will do this in about 8 to 10 articles per week complemented with video and audio offerings, all delivered to you in a smart, simple, easily navigated package. Our commitment to you is that as our membership grows we’ll do more.
We will feature a grand total of zero — count ‘em, zero— advertisements on our web pages.
Wait, what now?
You click, you read. No more playing Whack-a-Mole with the “Skip this ad” icon. No more load times from 2010.
It’s about the story, and the folks who want to read it. We are entirely committed to maintaining our standards such that this tenet shall never be usurped. To do so, to deliver news and opinion efficiently and effectively without cumbersome ad displays, we believe we must not publish free news and information.
These are volatile times for lots of folks, sure, but for journalists the past decade and immediate future have become a road paved with good intentions. The still-employed grasp at straws to help keep an industry — not a company, or a couple of jobs, an entire crumbling, investor-ravaged industry — afloat, while those among us set adrift by layoffs or bungled career changes list from one hardly paying gig to another. Maybe.
Some say the original sin of digital journalism was giving away product for free online. We disagree. We believe the original sin was not understanding that people get news and information from a variety of sources. To stand out in the digital space we need to get back to what drew us to the paper all those years ago: telling people something they didn’t know or maybe helping them think about things in ways they’d never consider.
With the Worcester Sun, we aspire to create such a company. Along the way, we hope to inspire you to think about our community in ways you hadn’t considered.
So, I think, we’re all looking for solutions — professionals, communities, industries — trying to finish our own puzzles (we’re on top of digital news) that seem to be missing a few pieces. The answers, alas, are stubbornly elusive. We believe, with the Worcester Sun, we’ve assembled a journalism organization worth supporting, and maybe even worth $2 a week.
And we’re looking forward to your visit next Sunday morning.
Fred Hurlbrink Jr. is managing editor and co-founder of Worcester Sun. He welcomes all manner of feedback and conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org.