A few months ago I was a guest speaker for a college class, talking about the landscape of journalism in new media. At one point in the topic I was discussing journalism’s eventual transition to paid content, and noted that the process would eventually be as common as things like Netflix.
Not everyone has a Netflix account, but those who do aren’t thinking of it in the same way you think of paying for a news site. Netflix is just something you have, and you don’t even think about it when the payment comes up. You don’t think that you can stream free shows legally elsewhere online. You just pay for the subscription.
I brought this up to the class, casually assuming that they probably don’t think about their Netflix subscriptions. I was met with a lot of blank stares, which drew a realization. Despite the relatively low price, none of them had a Netflix subscription.
It’s been a little over a decade since I was in college, so I kind of forgot that college students have no money. I know about the endless student loan debt that follows college, but forgot about how even $7.99 a month is impossible on a college budget. And the same is true for paying $2.99/month for Pirates news, or $29.99 per year.
It’s not just students though. There are many jobs that require extremely hard work for essential roles in our society, while paying very little. Teachers, nurses, public service workers, and so on all make our country run with their important jobs, but the pay is so low for these positions that they can’t always afford to buy extras for themselves, even with the important work they are doing.
One of my favorite local breweries here in Florida, Cigar City, has a Pay It Forward program where you can buy a beer for a teacher, a nurse, or other similar positions. You walk in, and a chalk board lists all of the beers that have been purchased for teachers or other professions, with any teacher being able to come in and claim one of the beers. The idea, as with all Pay It Forward campaigns, is that you can do something nice for someone you don’t know, with the hope that they pay it forward to someone else, and the chain contributes to making the world a better place.
I wanted to bring that program to Pirates Prospects, because I know there are so many students, teachers, and people in other important professions who read our site, but can’t otherwise afford a subscription. I’d like to have this as a free site and give everyone access, but that just isn’t possible with all of the costs involved in getting our coverage (which includes paying all of our writers). So we’re starting a Pay It Forward campaign, where you can buy a gift subscription for a stranger in a less fortunate situation.
Here are the two programs we will be running:
Each month we will offer a Pay It Forward campaign for a different profession. For the remainder of August, and through September, we will be offering the Pay It Forward program for teachers.
My mom was a teacher for years. My girlfriend is a teacher. About 90% of my friends are teachers. So I know that the job involves a ton of work and responsibility, and not nearly enough pay. We trust teachers to educate and be responsible for our kids. They go in at 7 AM, work through 3-4 PM, and then still have work to do when they get home. They are underpaid for the amount of work and responsibility they have, and yet they still are expected to pay money out of their own pockets for supplies for their classrooms and for their kids. Teachers are paying it forward all the time as a job. The least we can do is help them out in any way possible.
You can buy a Pay It Forward subscription for a teacher by going here. Each subscription bought using that link from now through the end of September will go to a teacher.
If you are a teacher, and would like to claim one of the subscriptions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Teacher Waiting List” in order to join the waiting list. Please include verification that you are a teacher (ID card, for example).
We will be doing this program with other professions, with a new one each month. The next one will start in October. Until then, you have a little over a month to Pay It Forward and buy a subscription for a teacher.
The Pay It Forward campaign for students is ongoing. The process is the same, but the link is different. Go to this page to buy a Pay It Forward subscription for a student.
If you are a college student, e-mail email@example.com with the subject “Student Waiting List” in order to get your name on the list. Please include verification.
These are on me. If you are an active member of the military, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll set you up with a free subscription.
This part of the program has actually existed since day one, although I haven’t done the best job of advertising it. Typically I see someone signing up with a military e-mail address, and I make a change to refund and make their subscription free. There might be some people I’ve missed in the process. If that is you, let me know via e-mail.
Offseason Site Changes
This year has been crazy for me behind the scenes. Our database was updated in the offseason, leading to a few things on the site not working as they should have, with the most notable thing being the stats in the Prospect Watch for the first few weeks of the season. We got that and a few other things fixed, but there is still more work to be done.
Once the season ends, I’ll be working on a lot of those things, with the big focus being fixing some common subscription problems, rebuilding the app, and fixing some site issues.
I’ve said a few times that it has been extremely difficult transitioning to a subscription site after being a free site for years. We were a free site for six years, and during that time we signed up members on the site, who then had to be transitioned over to members in our subscription software. It would have been much easier if the site was a subscription site from day one, as this would have eliminated 90% of our issues.
So my approach in the offseason will be to sort of rebuild the site. We’re going to have new subscription software, followed by a new site design, followed by a new app, and plenty of other smaller changes in between. This will fix a lot of the common problems people have been experiencing.
Until then, you won’t be able to see Prospect Watch stats on the app, and the iPhone app will be discontinued until the new version is built.
Sale on Pirates Prospects Books
We’re about six months away from the 2018 Prospect Guide from being released, although I still use the 2017 version as a reference for every article. The 2017 book is now on sale on the products page, along with a sale for the eBook.
We also have a few items on clearance, such as the 2016 Prospect Guide, along with Pirates Prospects shirts.
We have some positions open, planning ahead for 2018 coverage. We are looking for writers in West Virginia, Morgantown, and Bristol. For more info on each position, check out this post, and then e-mail email@example.com to apply.