Take ownership.

It’s the mantra that underlies so much of what LebTown is – why it even exists – and how we operate. Here’s why “Take Ownership” and our bias for action are hallmark attributes of LebTown as a startup local news organization.

This editorial follows up my previous ones about LebTown’s core value, optimize for trust, and our related values, seek truth and report it, make the extra call, seek common ground, and champion local.

These editorials were written as part of LebTown’s Countywide Campaign, an ambitious effort to swell our membership ranks as we celebrated our fifth birthday last month. Although we didn’t hit our goal of 1,000 members, we did add more than 125 supporters to our ranks! Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for action to help us sustain independent local journalism for the betterment of Lebanon County.

Read More: Introducing the Countywide Campaign

LebTown is at its best when our team takes ownership. This is true in a literal sense as well as a more general sense.

The more that LebTown journalists take an active (or at least interested) role in the organization’s business model and financial sustainability, the less need LebTown will have for other types of management, allowing the organization to keep its budget tightly focused on the employment of journalists.

For an example of what we want to avoid – consider this. Gannett CEO Mike Reed made $3.4 million in 2022. And that’s AFTER a 56% paycut compared to his 2021 earnings. It’s a figure 66 times the median salary of Gannett employees in 2022. A fantastic compensation package for a CEO who has overseen a decimation of the company’s newsrooms.

Capitalism – including its disruptive counterpart, creative destruction – is fundamentally American, both historically and culturally. But the hedgefundication of local news leaves our communities underserved, and our journalists underpaid. LebTown is able to offer deep reporting to our readers because we value and foster institutional knowledge within our newsroom. That accretion of context and knowhow does not happen when you have a revolving door of journalists shuttling from one awful conglomerate to the next. I’ve been there on the receiving end of a pink slip back when I worked for Digital First Media and that experience directly led to how I think about LebTown, and why I am ruthlessly focused on creating job opportunities for journalists, and not solely on the preservation of legacy titles.

Take ownership also describes the urgency I felt to do something because I was in position to do something. I hope our readers feel the same about our membership program. If you can support us financially, and you value our reporting, why not subscribe right now? Our bias for action – that tendency to take the first step as soon as you can, even if you don’t know how long the journey will be – lies at the heart of why I started LebTown, and how I wake up every morning thinking afresh about what I can do today to push us forward.

Take ownership also applies to the work LebTown contributors do generally – we trust our team to share ideas and pick projects based on how valuable they will be to our readers (and consequently the organization). I’m exceptionally proud of our newsroom; they each are in this line of work because they believe in the power of local news as a way to serve and foster the growth of the communities that they themselves live in.

Our values – optimize for trust, seek truth and report it, make the extra call, seek common ground, and champion local – are seamlessly embedded throughout our newsroom’s work precisely because our journalists take ownership in LebTown’s mission.

If you’ve learned something in this editorial, or it otherwise struck a chord with you, please consider joining LebTown as a member and being a part of our further conversations, both online and off, in the coming months.

Members are the heart and soul of LebTown, and in addition to the deep satisfaction of being champions for local news, they get special benefits like the ability to comment on articles, purchase exclusive merchandise, and receive members-only email newsletters.

If you’re not a member, the easiest, quickest, and most impactful thing you can do today is signup for a monthly or annual membership.

For a quick and simple one-time contribution, head here. (Please note that one-time contributions are not eligible for member benefits.)

You can also sign up as a member by mailing us a check to the following address.

922 Cumberland St.
Lebanon, PA 17042

If signing up by mailing us a check, please make sure to enclose your email address so we can setup your account. Please note that checks can take up to a month to be processed.

Outside of our daily journalism, with the Countywide Campaign now complete, my focus will now shift towards organizing LebTown member events for later this year, as well as another exciting new initiative we’re working on to expand coverage of the agricultural community in Lebanon County. I look forward to sharing additional updates with you in the coming weeks and months.

With feedback, suggestions, or ideas, you can reach me using the contact form at the bottom of this article or by shooting an email to editor@lebtown.com.

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

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Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

Davis Shaver is the publisher of LebTown. He grew up in Lebanon and currently lives outside of Hershey, PA, US.


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