The Star Observer launches crowd funding campaign to pay legal fees and cover weak ad market

Star-Observer-front-cover-May-2014-468x518Gay and lesbian community magazine The Star Observer is asking for its readers to donate much needed funds via a Pozible campaign as it seeks to grow its reserves in a tough advertising market, and to help pay legal bills.

In April the weekly newspaper relaunched as a free monthly magazine, responding to consumers accessing news via its digital offering. A week into a three week campaign it has raised $24,545 of a $75,000 goal.

Star Observer publisher and CEO Daniel Bone told Mumbrella: “The reason for doing it is there’s an number of factors that have come together which we’ve described as a perfect storm. We’ve launched the new Star Observer as a monthly magazine, we’ve been going for five months with that, and obviously the cost and the energy going into launching is fairly significant.

“At the same time as that it’s not been the best advertising environment and that combined with some legal issues which came in at the same time.

“The combination of the three factors left us in a vulnerable state where if things go poorly we could be in serious trouble so we thought the Pozible campaign was the way to ensure the Star Observer stays in community hands.”

The publisher is aiming to raise $75,000 with a secondary goal of $125,000. The publication explains on its website that the money “will help us fund our legal defence, restructure our business, produce our monthly magazines, and pay a very modest amount to our hard working journalists and production team”.

“The budget is not really to keep us running,” said Bone. “Obviously if we’ve got more money in the bank, we’ve got more funds to do more investigative journalism, more of the costly news gathering.

“But the budget isn’t really there to pay day-to-day expenses, it’s there partly to provide us with a buffer if we need while we’re dealing with these legal issues, but also to give us a greater level of reserve. It’s not about paying the week to week bills.”

If the Pozible campaign raises $125,000 the publication will upgrade its website, hire more journalists and writers “and deliver an amazing experience for our audience over the Midsumma and Mardi Gras seasons”.

On the future of The Star Observer’s print product, Bone said: “No one’s got a crystal ball when it comes to media but after going for now five months, the indications are pretty strong.

“With the weekly newspaper, it relied on the businesses up and down Oxford street to take out advertising, but with the move to monthly and the magazine format we have been able to engage with bigger brands.

“In this current issue we have people like the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra. It’s good to see more and more brands realise that gay and lesbian market is a market worth going after. The monthly format fits well with small comunnity venues and with larger advertisers. The last issue is the strongest we’ve had, in terms of the breadth of the editorial and the strength of the advertising revenue.”

Miranda Ward


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