(Just in case anyone out there is still not sure about this:

We are not, no more, not, not at all, not either, in no way, not even in the slightest little bit associated with any newspapers...)

Over the past 4 years, the Karrs at Monkeytown and Closes at Vinton Today have had what we describe as as "loosey-goosey" partnership.

About four years ago, when we began Vinton Today, there was very little expense. The small (and inexpensive server) was sufficient for our daily traffic

But as we grew, we kept having days when we (and our readers) would get this message: Bandwidth exceeded.

That's techno-talk for trying to run water from a fire hydrant through a garden hose. (Don't try it; it doesn't work.)

Soon, it began costing more to pay for the server to provide the information and send it to thousands of people.

It also took more hours of computer programming time to tweak the site for all of the demands coming in. If something breaks down, or needs tweaked or crashes or needs a larger server, we have the best customer service, and it has been at no charge.

The donations we received earlier help ensure that we always have a large enough server, and a large enough email system to bring you the news. It also is funding some improvements on the site. Most of them you have not noticed yet; they are things that make it easier and more efficient for us to get the photos from our cameras and the words in our head (and in the stories emailed to us) onto the web site. Speaking of cameras, the donations help us replace our overworked camera because it seems like it can't handle the demands we put it through for more than a year, after than it's repair time and just quit working. i have no idea how many time we click that camera in a year, but on one event, there had been over 1,200 photos shot in search of finding the perfect ones.

This past year we have come across more glitches that we had been unaware of. Once again we will hand our list of things that need fixed to our repair man, and he will pop the hood and figure out what's happening and give the site a tune up.

Someone asked us if the donations would present a "bonus" to us as employees. No, but we would have bought the camera anyway, paying for it, as we did with our two laptops and two desktop computers, first camera, camera cards, batteries, charger and camera cards out of our own pockets.(Yes, we believe in Vinton Today that much.) The donations mean that the readers who helped make Vinton Today a success also helped pay for the equipment to make it better.

We debated the fund-raiser a long time among ourselves, anticipating such questions.

We finally came to this conclusion: We, as a news outlet are different from the rest because we have offered (and will continue to do so) all of our services for free.

Most newspapers charge for obituaries, in some cases over $100 but for many around $50.

They charge if you want to read the news.

They charge if you want to submit information about certain events (although some will place some information for free).

Newspapers charge for a subscription, and obituaries, and classified ads, and...basically everything they can charge for, they do. We do not.

Each year our local newspapers collects thousands of dollars through public notices legals that city councils, county supervisors and school boards are required by law to run in a traditional print newspaper.

(These are those teeny tiny print notices that you can barely read at the bottom of the page. Fortunately, we have been able to include those on Vinton Today, in print that isn't a strain on your eye!)

The amount that the county has to pay for these notices in one year would be enough for us to live very comfortably for the year; it's actually more than we've ever earned in a single year.

So basically, like so many other things, the newspapers are funded in part by our tax dollars, but if you want to read one, you have to buy one.

Do the laws need changed on this? Naturally, we think so, of course. But will they ever be changed to help online news sources? We doubt it. The newspapers have lobbyists in Des Moines to make sure this doesn't happen.

The 'Yaseetimmy'

So, as we say in our house, when we need to explain something, we quote a line out of the movie "Speechless:" "YaseeTimmy" (which means "You see, Timmy..." as the parents in Lassie often said) , when we began Vinton Today, we threw caution to the wind. We have poured our hearts and souls into this project, we were fortunate to run into another couple with a vision and you are now reading Vinton Today, FREE of charge, 24/7/365.

Our coverage, we think, exceeds most other sources in the area. We recently received a thank-you from a woman who had been featured in several other papers. She pointed out that one big-city newspaper messed up the story, and thanked us for getting it right (we get that a lot). Our news staff believes that there should be some actual grunt work involved to make something worth reading.

Our main point of this column is to explain how Vinton Today works, financially, and to thank the advertisers and donors who made this incredible journey possible. We still seem to be the only on-line only newspaper in Iowa, and one of a very few in the U.S.

That way, you can get the news any time of any day, at any place, for free. You don't have to leave your home, find a parking spot, bundle up or wait for someone to bring it to your door.

If you and your business would like to join us in this venture, we'd be glad to talk to you. Simply drop us an e-mail at Vintontoday@hotmail.com...we'll take care of you!

If you would like to help us out with the expenses of this endeavor, please send your gift to: Vinton Today Fund, P.O. Box 477, Vinton, Iowa 52349. Gifts are NOT tax deductible. Thanks so much!


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