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Message from our publisher: An appeal for your support of good journalism

Original post made on Mar 27, 2020

Just three weeks ago, it was hard to imagine the imminent human and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Yet here we all are, isolated in our homes, working hard to adhere to the directives from county and state health officials.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 27, 2020, 6:56 AM

Comments (43)

Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2020 at 11:40 am

Maybe stopping the printed version for a while would be a good option? I think an online only version would suit most people just fine.

Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 27, 2020 at 11:57 am

I am very interested in keeping PA Weekly robust. Can you give us an idea of how many new subscribers you need to keep you going, Bill? Or a realistic assessment of a combination of grants and subscribers. Thank you for letting us know.

Becky, we're aiming to add 3,000 subscribers between now and the end of June. That would be roughly 10 percent of Palo Alto/Stanford households. Thank you for your support. -- Bill Johnson

Posted by GreerDucky_GNGT
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Now a paid subscriber. Thank you.

Posted by Open your books
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2020 at 12:16 pm

For the past few years readers have been receiving an endless stream of emails, messages and pop ups asking for money. Now we have a crisis and the weekly is claiming poverty. Was the weekly just crying wolf in the past?
Maybe the weekly needs to reconsider their solicitation policies.
As for me, I will use my money to support local restaurants and local residents in need.

Editor's reply: We're asking you to do what any other valued business asks of its customers -- pay for it. As our business model must change with the steady decline of local business advertising, so must our readers' sense of entitlement to free local news. Please do support our local restaurants. We're currently giving them our support through free advertising. Can we assume you won't be reading the Weekly, however, because you don't find any value in it?

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 27, 2020 at 12:39 pm

I know my husband and I appreciate the fine journalism that is a critical asset provided by the Palo Alto Weekly. It is important to know what is going on locally. We use Stanford Health and appreciate knowing about where people can be tested for the virus should symptoms present. The Weekly gives important information on other medical facilities where people can go for this test as well. So I encourage people to support this valued asset not just because of what we are all going through right now but for our democracy as well. If you have not yet subscribed to the Palo Alto Weekly then become a subscriber now.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 27, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Local journalism is an essential part of how we know our community, connect with each other and know what our local government is doing.
Local papers have been closing across the country for years and this emergency threatens to be a big nail in the coffin of local journalism. We now need to step up and help them because they matter to us.

Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2020 at 3:11 pm

Do you have a 501c(3) foundation to which I could make a contribution?

Answer from Moderator: No, unfortunately we don't currently have a 501c(3) entity that can accept tax deductible contributions.

Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2020 at 5:56 pm

Bill, I'm a subscriber, and also agree with @rssmithjr People are not going to subscribe TWICE, but many would make an additional tax-deductible contribution.

You should immediately create an entity which can solicit tax-deductible contributions. With tax-deductible gifts we support 3 public media groups and student journalism at my alma mater.

You have many well-heeled readers and "Friends of the Weekly" who would support you, especially through lean times like these.

Local journalism is too important to lose!

Posted by would be subscriber
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2020 at 6:13 pm

Things are tight for us but we'd like to support as we can. I do not wish to subscribe. Can you PLEASE just put in a pure donation button that lets me make a donation when I feel I can and doesn't require me to subscribe?

Posted by would be subscriber
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2020 at 6:26 pm

I'm not suggesting to supplant the subscriptions, just make it possible for people who want to add something, or who feel the urge but don't want to subscribe, to contribute. Just as @Staying young has suggested. You have to create as little barrier as possible for some peoplel

Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 27, 2020 at 6:58 pm

I would gladly contribute and become a paid subscriber, but I would never do it as long as the Weekly keeps censoring comments.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 27, 2020 at 8:46 pm

The Weekly is a private for-profit corporation, even if their are no longer any profits so a 501c3 tax deductible donation is not currently an option.
To those who would support local journalism if they would only act as you see fit, get over it and get over yourselves.

Posted by Bill Johnson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2020 at 8:48 pm

@would be subscriber

We have added a one-time contribution option to our subscribe page at Web Link (scroll down to the bottom.) Although we welcome and appreciate such support, our preference is for subscriptions.

We are all accustomed to subscribing to cable TV, internet, Netflix, etc. for services we deem of value. Our wish is for those who value local news reporting by professional journalists simply pay for a subscription, and send their charitable dollars to needy non-profit organizations.

Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2020 at 8:55 pm

Hi Bill,

I am a subscriber. Is there any way to turn off the continual ask button for new subscribers? It is irritating. Thanks!

Posted by Bill Johnson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:00 pm


I'm sorry you're continuing to see these. It's because you haven't logged in (upper left on every web page.)

If you log in once on the devices you use to access Palo Alto Online you'll be recognized as a subscriber and these won't be displayed.

Thank you for your subscription.

Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:10 pm

Hi Bill,
Thank you very much for responding so quickly!!!

I am not very tech savvy. Not sure I understand your solution. So I will just plug along. Thanks!

Posted by Bill Johnson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:19 pm


I'm sorry that wasn't clear.

Unless you click on "login" (at the top left of our home page at Web Link) and enter the email address you used when you subscribed and the password you set up, our website can't tell you are a subscriber, and will show you the subscription appeals thinking that you are not a subscriber. Once you login, you won't need to do it again. On future visits you'll be automatically logged in and recognized as a subscriber.

If you continue to have problems, email me at [email protected] and I'll be happy to help you offline.

Posted by Subscription levels
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:25 pm

There are a few subscription levels. I subscribe at the basic (cheapest) one so tried to see if I could "upgrade" my subscription but wasn't able to. That may be a useful thing to add? (You mention you prefer subscriptions to one-time donations so if you want people to give more, there is no way to do it afaict.)

Posted by Bill Johnson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:48 pm

@Subscription levels

If you have a monthly subscription you can upgrade by going to Web Link. Right now there is no automated way to upgrade an annual subscription, but we're working on it.

Thank you.

Posted by CovidKid
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 28, 2020 at 8:40 am

Why should I support a politically one-sided newspaper who heavily censors opposing comments? Not to mention a few reporters being grammar/spelling challenged. Don't you guys proofread?

One reason would be that you apparently continue to find value enough in the reporting our staff does to read it and you take advantage of the opportunity to read and post comments, even though they are moderated to delete disrespectful attacks on other posters.

-- Bill Johnson, publisher

Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2020 at 2:35 pm

@ Bill Johnson After years of free service and for many years free 2x weekly home delivery (in the mail), our community looks upon the weekly just as we do "free" public radio. Making the shift to pay for the weekly (online access) is going to make for some tough sledding.

Just as our local libraries are kept afloat by the work and generosity of the non-profit FOPAL, you need to create, or have some readers create, the FOPAW to support local journalism. The recipient of grants from this non-profit would be The Weekly, or perhaps even The Post. Contrary to what @resident suggests, for profit business can and do receive grant money to do god work within the community.

Or, you can flip the entire corporation on it's head and become a non-profit entity with the ability to both collect fees and accept donations. Of course, then, you would really have to disclose financials. But hey, it works great for NPR and PBS!!

Honestly releasing your financials publicly now as you are essentially begging for subscriber dollars couldn't hurt.

Like I said, people in Palo Alto have come to expect our community news for free. The Weekly, the Palo Alto Post, the withering Palo Alto Daily, as well as the websites NextDoor and Patch are conditioning us that local news and comment should be easy to access and cost nothin'...tough sledding to change that.

Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2020 at 2:44 pm

I will say, the drop off in Real Estate ads has to be a gut punch to the business. Although, to see a Real Estate reset in Palo Alto would be a bit refreshing. Way too much hubris in our community, especially when pertaining to the real estate market.

Posted by Midtown Family
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2020 at 5:43 pm

Long time reader, just subscribed. Thank you for your work!

Posted by Old Palo,Alto
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 28, 2020 at 9:44 pm

Think best route for me, is to give a couple of guest subscriptions to friends or substantial people that so far as I know don’t subscribe right now, maybe it will cat help a bit ...

Mr.Johnson has done a truly remarkable job. This paper is a very very strong local paper. Professional. Interesting.

As for moderation of discussion, without some moderation, , discussion sinks to the level of the worst contributor.
And, it’s his paper.

The ethics, integrity and breadth of accurate local journalism can not be duplicated, or over emphasized.
I had a fantastic high school experience in journalism with a remarkable! Journalism teacher!
Of four associate editors on my high school paper my year, one became a senior copy editor on the Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, then the Examiner, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Second one became Opinion page editor for the Dallas Morning News .
Third became Vice President or so of the NFL.

Then me of course. Of lesser fame. Oh, well. I was a paperboy reading every day ... This was at a public high school in a working class midwestern town.

“If we lose our newspapers, we lose our democracy.” Is that the right quote? Well, it is the right idea.

Three best papers I read now are FinTimes, WSJ and Epoch Times.

Weekly is a very very good local paper.

Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2020 at 11:49 am

I shudder to think where we would be without Gennady Scheyner keeping our city government honest. There is so much external pressure on Palo Alto from the usual suspects. Thanks for all you do Weekly I just signed up!

Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2020 at 5:44 pm

Thank you for reaching out and requesting help from your readership, including myself, who benefit from your great service to our community: solid. local. journalism. I just subscribed!

Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 31, 2020 at 11:46 am

@Bill Johnson,

Regarding the popups:
1. I am subscriber.
2. I am logged in. As proof, my name and neighborhood were just auto-filled into this message.
3. I am using Chrome on Windows 10.
4. NEVERTHELESS, every time I move to a page, I get your popups. "We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?"

Any help you can offer would be useful. My belief is that a subscriber should never see this popup.



As you know from our offline email exchange, the problem you experienced was because your subscription had expired. After renewing, the pop-ups urging you to subscribe disappeared. I know these pop-ups are annoying, but they do keep reminding non-subscribers that we need their ongoing support. Thanks for your generous renewal.

-- Bill Johnson, publisher

Posted by immigrant
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2020 at 10:43 am

Just subscribed. Thanks for the local journalism. Vital to keep public informed and public officials accountable and transparent.

Posted by Marie
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2020 at 11:39 am

Is there a way I can prepay my next year's subscription? Mine autorenews in July.

Yes, if you enter a new subscription at the same email address as your current subscription it will move your current expiration date out by one year. Thank you for your support.

-- Bill Johnson, publisher

Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 5, 2020 at 5:38 pm

@ Bill Johnson:
Besides subscribing (which I've done) and increasing my subscription (which I did recently), I understand another way to support the Weekly is to buy tribute advertisements to acknowledge the work of people in our community. So I'm giving you a plug, so you can tell us about that opportunity now!

@Arthur Keller
We launched this on Friday in the Weekly. We're encouraging Palo Altans who would like to acknowledge someone they think is a local hero to submit the person's name and a short explanation of what he or she has done. In addition to giving public recognition and build a sense of community, it will also help replace the advertising we normally have from now-closed local businesses. The cost is $250, a fraction of normal ad rates. If you'd like to participate, you can submit the information on someone you consider a local hero at
Web Link?

Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 8, 2020 at 2:01 pm

Honest and responsible government depends on comprehensive investigative journalism. I am happy to subscribe to the Weekly and to PBS. An extra benefit: when I'm traveling, sometimes for a month, I can keep up with the local news using Palo Alto Online. When I return, I haven't lost a beat. I was subscribing at the senior rate but I just upped it to the basic rate -- and that's only 33 cents a day -- a bargain. The comprehensive coverage of what's happening in Palo Alto is invaluable. I want to be an engaged citizen and the Weekly helps me do that. Thank you to all the staff at the PA Weekly for your great work.

Posted by dee lee
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 17, 2020 at 1:24 pm

Yes, I sent check instead pay online because I am still old analogy generation, can't trust site 100%.
Thank you

Posted by Marie
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2020 at 9:12 pm

I would be willing to renew my subscription early but could find no way to do so on your website. The only buttons are to subscribe, not to renew early.

Please let me know if there is some way to renew my subscription early.

Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 21, 2020 at 9:26 pm

How about charging people to post comments in the Town Square section following each article? Charge more during the first 48 hours, less as time passes. Readers could pay more to keep their comment at the top of the list.

You should also consider running display ads alongside the Town Square comments. The Town Square section is one of the most trafficked areas and is only ad free part of the site. Makes no sense, could be some of the most valuable space on the site!

Posted by jvpadojino
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2020 at 3:43 pm

@Marie Thank you so much for supporting local journalism and your generous offer. Rather than renewing your subscription early, we created a one-time contribution option for subscribing members who would like to contribute more. Just scroll down to the bottom of the subscription page (Web Link) and enter the amount you'd like to contribute in the "One-Time Contribution" box.
-Jamey Padojino, Palo Alto Online digital editor

Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 11:41 pm

@Staying -
Interesting suggestion. I think the exact opposite, that I should be paid by the word for contributing content. I think I would be owed something like $10,000 backpay.
(similarly in the music business where I work I believe performers and composers are owed a lot of money by Pandora Spotify and Apple)

Posted by Staying Young Through Kids
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2020 at 3:12 pm

@Mark Weiss In the entertainment business people are willing to pay to watch, read, or listen to professionally made content. That is one reason I pay to subscribe to the Palo Alto Weekly. Reading the comments can be entertaining, and possibly even informiming, but it's the journalism that matters (whether I agree with an article it or not).

If someone posting in the comment section of PA Online has that kind of value he or she should be working as a blogger for Embarcadero Media, or should be hosting a site or blog of their own. I have friends, and know children of friends who make good money as influencers, bloggers, and youtube performers. If you have that kind of cache yous should "cache in" on it! (pardon the pun)

Otherwise, it should be worth a few pennies to "self publish" one's opinion on a forum such as this. Posters on this forum are clearly "self publishing" and that's how it works! If a poster's opinion consistently has value (often gets 50+ likes), then perhaps Embarcadero Media would consider sponsoring that individual as an "expert poster".

Otherwise we're all just screaming at the rain...and there ain't no pay for that!

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 26, 2020 at 4:15 pm

I noticed in your latest email that PA Online paid subscribers also have access to your other 2 publications (Menlo Park and Mountain View) but I haven't been able to get that to work smoothly without signing up for 2 additional accounts. Please advise.

It would be great if you could transparently sign us on to the other 2 by carrying through our registration info. It would also be convenient to have links to the news from the other 2 nearby communities from somewhere within the PA Online site. More usage, more advertiser reach. Win-Win.


Posted by Town Square Moderator
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2020 at 10:43 pm

@Online Name

Your registration and membership on one site does carry over to the other sites. If you are a member of Palo Alto Online you can access any of our other websites by logging in on the other sites with the same email address and password you use on Palo Alto Online. You can find links to the other sites at the bottom of every webpage in the Index.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 26, 2020 at 10:58 pm

Thanks. but actually my info didn't carry over transparently from one site to all 3. I still had to log in manually with my current info while being pitched to become a paid subscriber. It took me a few stabs but finally think I can toggle among the 3 sites.

Posted by LK
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 4, 2020 at 11:12 pm

You need to keep printing. The paper need to get bigger. Be creative in getting more advertisers. Get more political ads. I would let the politicians fight it out in the ad pages.

You need to make people pay for the online content! It works. Go ask the Wall Street Journal. Their content always require payment and they always make money.

Get more ads for the online version!!!

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 5, 2020 at 12:35 am

The Wall Street Journal is a deductible business expense for most of its subscribers so it may not be the best example. More hard-hitting features would be great.

We've got elections coming up. How about hard-hitting coverage including compiling voting records and where most of the candidates' political contributions come from.

Posted by ResidentX
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 10:46 am

I lived in and around Palo Alto for over 25 years. Palo Atlo Weekly went from objectively reporting news to a propaganda newspaper for liberal left. And I know what propaganda looks like as I escaped Soviet Union exactly from this.
I am sure people will gladly contribute if Palo Alto Weekly will have integrity as it used to 25 years ago.

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