Prokop: Why we ask people to pay for reading our stories

Hannah Prokop
Hannah Prokop

When news broke of AJ Freund’s disappearance and later, death, everyone wanted to know the story. 

Not everyone wanted to pay to read it, though.

As hard as some of the details were to digest, it’s something the Northwest Herald has covered in-depth, and we’ll continue to write about it as we uncover more details. Like Northwest Herald Editor Jon Styf said – the only way to effectively and knowledgeably create better outcomes in the future, a full examination of the past needs to occur.

To do this important reporting and writing, however, we need reporters. And we need to pay them for their work. Which is why, among other reasons, we ask readers to subscribe.

This is the reality that newspapers face, and you’ll find we’re not the only ones who require digital subscriptions to support news gathering.

We don’t write stories because we’re greedy and want money for clicks. That’s not how it works. Because Facebook, Google and Amazon have swallowed up the ad market, even the most viral of free stories, surrounded by ads, isn’t enough to pay a writer for his or hers day of work. And we’re not trying to block readers from potentially life-saving information (we will make a story open at no cost to readers if we determine public safety is at risk). 

We do need readers to pay for important services – and we’re thankful for the ones who do. And while this story spread to national outlets, we’re the ones who will stay on it when they move to the next story.

It’s hard to forget about the story when you live, like I do, a few blocks from the home where a 5-year-old was allegedly murdered by his parents.

Of course, I’m only touching on the news section of what a subscription gets readers – it’s also great photos, sports coverage and listings of community events, too.

Visit for more information on how to subscribe.

Since I’ve been getting a fair amount of questions about it, here’s a reminder of how to submit content to the Northwest Herald.

If it’s a news story idea, send to or call me or Styf (815-526-4630). Styf also is the person to talk to about letters to the editor. If you have an important news tip, visit to find out how you can securely send it.

If you’re looking to submit an event to our calendar, please follow these instructions: All print and online calendars are compiled from information input by event organizers, supporters or participants online at

To have your event included in any print or online calendar, please follow that link and click on “+Add your event.” To input your event, you will need to have a free account. When inputting your event, be sure to select the categories that correspond to the calendar(s) in which you want your event to appear. Events should be input at least two weeks in advance. 

You may also submit community photos and event previews to

As always, please reach out if there’s more you’d like to know about how the newsroom works.

• Hannah Prokop is the Northwest Herald’s city editor. She can be reached at 815-526-4616 or

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