Okay, gang, a few final notes before What’sUpNewp’s Member Program that we’re all so excited about becomes a reality:

First, the Member Program will officially go live next Tuesday, May 1st. At that point, only members will receive our hand-curated and crafted newsletter, What’sUpNewp Daily Edition, daily at 6 am. While there are some great benefits to becoming a Member, our member program isn’t just about a newsletter or two. It’s truly about becoming our partners to help us achieve the next level in providing additional quality, in-depth and significant news, event, and lifestyle coverage.

Second, we’ve gotten a great deal of feedback and questions about the member program pricing structure. A lot of people wanted to know if we would offer an annual subscription plan, discounts, or if they could pay by check for an entire year up front. We’re working with our developer to see what other options we can offer in regards to taking annual payments and offline payments. But, at this time, the only way we’re offering access to our membership is via this link where you must provide your email address and you must pay monthly via credit card. The system, and the current way of signing up, simply keeps track of everyone’s membership and billing, while keeping all transactions secure.

Third, if you’ve given to us in the past or have been a subscriber/member of any campaign we’ve previously launched,  you’ll be getting an email soon from us with information about how to redeem your membership.

As we’ve detailed before, the decision to start a Member Program for the site, shall we say, was not easy. It was, in fact, one of the most nerve-wracking choices I’ve ever made.

But less than two weeks into this, however, it’s looking increasingly like it was the right move — and one that sets up a promising future for what we do (and what we’re hoping to do) here in Newport County and across Rhode Island.

We have a goal that we would like to hit within three months of the launch of the member program. Ten days in, we’ve already crossed 21% of our membership goal.

Obviously, it’s nice to know so many people out there value the site enough to have hopped on board this early. But I have to say the most unexpected — and welcome — thing about our membership program is how it quickly and clearly it has realigned our incentives in putting together our email newsletter and content for each day. Or, perhaps more precisely, how it has more closely aligned our incentives with those of our readers.

When a publication’s revenue comes solely from advertisers, it is naturally inclined to take an approach that delivers them the most exposure. That is, traffic volume becomes the most important metric, because that’s what gets monetized. That tends to tip the editorial quality vs. quantity scale fairly sharply toward the quantity side. And, whether consciously or not, it’s probably fair to say that’s the approach we’d adopted over the last six years.

But since we’ve announced our membership program, it hasn’t taken long to notice a trend: On the days we publish things about local government, original stories, or pieces about what people truly care about; new memberships spike.

On Tuesday, we hit a big milestone. The amount of revenue that we receive from our membership program exceeded the amount we are paid by our biggest advertiser. Meaning our biggest partner in what we do here, is now our readers.

The fact is, when a community news publication gets a large part of its revenue from its readers, it’s incentivized to cover the things that really make a difference to the community — not to just chase the easiest path toward the most page views.

Our goal is to continue to create a publication based on the following values:

  • We believe that an informed community is a stronger community. We want to keep people in the know of what’s happening, new, and to do in Newport County and across Rhode Island. From what local elected officials are doing and why they are doing it, to what’s happening with nonprofits, businesses, events, and the people who live here. Our goal is to provide people who live in Newport County and across Rhode Island with a straightforward look at the issues, news, and things that affect their everyday life.
  • We believe in Newport and Rhode Island. One of the things that makes a community a community is a shared sense of pride — about the life it provides its residents, about the initiatives it undertakes, about the accomplishments of its citizens, and about the people and businesses that choose to plant their roots here. We want What’sUpNewp to help foster the social capital that makes Newport County and Rhode Island a great place to live and raise a family.

Many of you appear to agree with those beliefs strongly enough that you’ve made an investment in our continued ability to bring you truly local coverage by becoming a member. If you share those values but have not become a member yet, we hope you’ll consider doing so today.

Please accept our sincerest thanks for your time, support, and readership over the last six years. We hope you continue to support our advertisers, share our stories, provide us with feedback, and take this journey with us.

That’s all for now!

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.