“The sunlit summer brightens quickly”
Dear readers and friends,
Once again, summer is officially here, and we couldn’t be happier. Without a doubt, this is the brightest season of the year, with longer days of light and warmth. With the sunshine, comes anticipation and optimism.
This issue of The Norwegian American is full of this sunshine and enthusiasm, as it brings to you new articles and features, full of inspiration and nourishing food for thought.
For me, it was a big thrill to interview Alexander Rybak, one of Norway’s greatest cultural icons of our time. Alexander is the living embodiment of enthusiasm and warmth. His energy comes across right on the cover image to set the mood for our celebration of summer.
Sometimes, I am asked how I am able to land these big interviews to share with you. First of all, I must say that I am very lucky how the stars often align themselves, but secondly, it is a testimony to how our community holds together. This also applies to people who are very busy. When I tell them I am writing for the oldest and only Norwegian newspaper in North America, now a program of Norway House, the National Norwegian Center, I always sense a lot of excitement. The friendship between Norway and the United States remains very strong, and both Norwegians and Americans understand its importance, especially in today’s world.
But this isn’t to say that we don’t face challenges here at the newspaper. While we have seen significant subscriber growth in recent years, it is still not enough to adequately sustain our operations and to allow for future growth.
One of the problems we have is that many potential readers simply don’t know about our newspaper, or previous readers aren’t aware of how this publication has improved. We need to get the word out, and marketing has become increasingly complex and expensive. It’s not enough to put out posts on social media, where many go to consume images and news for free. We will need to actively and creatively market our product to increase our subscriber numbers.
But a recent survey/study in the Netherlands showed that most people there no longer want to pay to read a newspaper, and research in the United States also reflects this discouraging trend.
The problem is that quality journalism does not come out of nowhere. In the age of social media, anyone, regardless of their knowledge or credentials, can post on the internet, but at a newspaper like ours, funds are required to ensure the quality of the content and its presentation. Staff needs to be paid, and there are very real production costs.
But the Dutch survey also provided some positive takeaways. When those being surveyed where presented with content from professional publications, they gave it a high rating and expressed interest in reading content on this level more regularly—although they still did not want to pay for it.
Finally, the participants in the survey/study were told how much the content actually cost to produce, and they were surprised. Most of them did not know how little a newspaper subscription costs. Now, this was very useful information to us here at The Norwegian American!
The value of our newspaper
We got to thinking about what our newspaper costs our subscribers. For $70 a year, they receive 22 print issues, many of the them expanded in scope for special times of the year. That is only slightly more than $3.18 per issue, a little more than a small latte. In addition, subscribers get access to thousands of articles in our online archives, plus regular updates via our e-newsletters and other special promotions and events.
We also don’t fill our newspaper with a large proportion of pesky advertisements no one wants to read; they, too, are tailored to our target audience to enhance their reading experience. We have even been told that many of you readers enjoy our ads.
The Norwegian American is a very good deal, and we are planning to craft some future marketing campaigns around this message. It’s also worth noting that with inflation and increased production costs, we haven’t raised our rates. We want the paper to be accessible to you, both now and in the future.
Spread the good news
Firstly, I want to say thank you to everyone who is already a subscriber of the paper. You are the ones keeping us alive and our reason for being.
Secondly, I am asking you to help us spread the good news. Tell your friends about the paper and encourage them to subscribe. They can try it out for a month for as little as $7, slightly more than two lattes. Many of them will enjoy reading it with their morning coffee and make it a routine. The Norwegian American, too, can be addictive, but in a very good way!
“The sunlit summer brightens quickly,” as this issue’s quote by Kai Munk says, and with your help, I believe it will be much the same for our newspaper.
Wishing you a summer of sunshine
and many hours of happy reading,
This article originally appeared in the June 24, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.