The Lawton Constitution is using a Google grant to help low-income readers pay for newspaper subscriptions.

The Lawton Constitution Offers Grants to Cover Newspaper Subscriptions

As a recipient of one of Google’s community journalism grants

Getting newspaper subscriptions is a little more affordable for some Oklahomans now. The Lawton (Oklahoma) Constitution is helping low-income readers pay for newspaper subscriptions, using grant money received from Google. The grants will pay half the cost of six-month and one-year newspaper subscriptions, but readers have to apply and be selected to access the grant funding. The Lawton Constitution is running ads to let people know of the program, and they are asking readers to help spread the word to family and friends who might benefits.

“For many, the newspaper is about the most affordable way to receive local news, so we thought the best use of that grant money would be to help pay for subscriptions for individuals who can’t afford to because of limited resources,” said David Stringer, publisher of The Lawton Constitution, on Saturday.

“We know that, no matter how low the cost, some residents want to read the paper, but simply can’t afford it. When Google offered this program, I thought the best way to use the money was to help those in the community in need who want to stay informed,” said Stringer. “We do ask applicants to pay part of the cost of that subscription, but the Google monies will pay the rest. We’ll fund subscriptions as long as the grant money lasts.”

The Lawton Constitution offers a variety of newspaper subscriptions for its readers, ranging in price from $11.25 for weekends-only home delivery to $159.00 for one-year of daily home delivery:

  • Daily home delivery for one month: $16.00
  • Daily home delivery for three months: $43.00
  • Daily home delivery for six months: $83.00
  • Daily home delivery for 12 months: $159.00
  • Weekends only home delivery for one month: $11.25
  • Weekends only home delivery for three months: $31.75
  • Weekends only home delivery for six months: $61.00
  • Weekends only home delivery for 12 months: $114.00
  • Special daily rate: Pay for two months, get one month free: $32.00

The grant program that is making this possible is Google’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund, which is part of a larger Google News Initiative. The relief fund was launched in April to help news organizations around the world survive in a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic and to support small- and medium-sized news organizations in sharing pandemic news with their communities.

“Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times. Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how COVID-19 is affecting daily life,” said Richard Gingras, vice president of News, in the April 15 announcement.

Grant applications were accepted from April 15 through April 29. Within two weeks, Google received more than 12,000 applications from 140 eligible countries in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa, North America and Latin America. Ninety percent of the applications came from newsrooms that had fewer than 26 journalists, and approximately 50% did not meet the eligibility requirements. Teams of more than 300 Google staff helped to review the applications, comparing the applications against established criteria for qualification. Overall, North America had more than 3,050 applications. Over 1,800 newsrooms like The Lawton Constitution will receive funding from the program.

Image courtesy of Google

Insider Take:

When Google announced the grants, it included a handful of examples of how news organizations around the world would be using their grants. Those examples did not show a program like this. We love it for its simplicity, as well as its importance in sharing news. Low income individuals may not have online access to, and some may be older and prefer to have a hard copy newspaper. This grant provides everyone with access without giving away the newspaper subscriptions. They ask applicants to pay for half the subscription, which will make it more likely that only those who really want the newspaper will apply for a grant.  

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