Brad Rollins’ Blog: Introducing MercuryPro
SHOP TALK by BRAD ROLLINS
If you happen to pick up today’s edition of the San Marcos Daily Record, you can read a hard-hitting piece about the newspaper’s own publisher receiving an award from San Marcos CISD for printing PR fluff about local schools. You can read a few press releases on the front page from the city of San Marcos about community development block grants and an upcoming budget workshop. There’s also a handful of obituaries and Dear Abby and a crossword puzzle, if that’s your thing.
But you won’t read a word — not a single word — about the San Marcos police corporal accused of brutally assaulting a 22-year-old woman in the course of arresting her on trumped up charges. Or about a new rehab hospital being built in Kyle. Or about a historic Latino cemetery being designated a state historical landmark.
Since I founded the Mercury in 2008, we have consistently covered more of the stories that matter to San Marcos and covered them better than our competitors — despite being out-staffed and out-spent by an absurdly lopsided margin. The Mercury is a labor of love — a calling as much as it is a company — and both the cause and effect of great personal sacrifice not just for me but for Bill Peterson, Hap Mansfield and the other good people who have worked over the years to make the Mercury what it is.
In addition to our staff-produced content, the Mercury has become an important hub of community discussion where people can speak their mind and be heard to a degree not possible before the digital age. That commitment to uncensored discourse, in and of itself, has changed San Marcos for the better.
Our formula — imaginative, incisive original content accompanied by a chorus of community voices — has made the San Marcos Mercury hands-down the dominant source of news and opinion for San Marcos and surrounding areas. We plan to stay on top. Today, I’m asking for your help to make sure that happens.
The Internet media landscape has matured significantly in the last five years and we’re maturing with it. In 2008, the idea of paying for online news was virtually unheard of; the few media outlets that had attempted it had failed miserably at doing so. In the last few years, however, newspapers and magazines large and small have gone to paid subscriptions. We’re following suit — to a certain extent.
Under a new model we are launching today, many of the stories that matter most to San Marcos will continue to be made available free to our community. But other elements of our coverage will be rolled into a new premium service we’re calling MercuryPro.
Subscriptions will cost $50 a year or $10 a month. Some stories will be published first on MercuryPro and then made available free on the legacy Mercury website, the idea being that paying customers get the benefit of getting the news first. Sometimes, breaking news will be published first on the Mercury and more comprehensive followups will be available only to MercuryPro subscribers. Other content will be made available exclusively to MercuryPro subscribers, especially our growing collection of databanks that we’re forging into a valuable resource for atprofessionals and the professionally curious — auto sales, real estate trends, building permits, etc.
That’s the basic shape of it. We’ll figure out the details as we go along just as everyone else in digital media is doing. All of this is uncharted territory not just for San Marcos but for the world at-large.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a locally oriented Internet newspaper anywhere — anywhere — that has thrived like the Mercury has; I am proud of the place we have carved out as digital pioneers — hardy and headstrong, if sometimes hungry. MercuryPro will allow us to take the San Marcos Mercury to the next level by giving us the resources we need to beef up staff and expand our coverage.
None of these changes are going to happen overnight. We’ll implement our new model in phases over the next 30 days — and rely on feedback from our readers along the way to make sure we strike the right balance.
In the meantime, if you believe in the Mercury and believe the Mercury is important to San Marcos, why don’t you go ahead and sign up? I look forward to seeing you on the other side of this transition as we continue the exciting work of telling San Marcos’ incredible story.