You may have noticed some changes to our website, lately. There are now stories marked as “exclusives” and a new field where you can “sign up” or “login.” But to what, you might ask?
AltPhilly is our new membership program – it’s a new initiative we’re taking to further engage with readers and grow our subscriber base. AltPhilly members will be welcomed to invitation-only events designed to bring Philly Weekly content to life, as well as have access to special offers and promotions in the coming weeks.
I’ve also seen the rumblings on social media following the promotion of this thing, so I’ll break it down for you.
Let me start by reminding you that Philly Weekly is – and always has been – a free paper. The last free alt-weekly printed its last edition in 2015 (RIP City Paper).
You may have also noticed that for years, Philly Weekly has never placed ads on its website. That’s because our publisher likes it to be presented to you clean, clear and easy-to-read, without the clutter. The only ads are in the paper, but even those have become fewer and fewer in the midst of an economy crushed by the coronavirus.
Rather than trying to make up the balance by going the way of the paywall – like many of our peers have done at the Inquirer, Philadelphia Business Journal and Philly Magazine – among others, we decided to try something different.
So, we launched AltPhilly, a membership program geared toward like-minded Philadelphians who care about alternative journalism.
Contrary to what the haters have said on social media, “alt” isn’t short for “alt-right,” and if those same people took a second to check out our digital edition, they would see that, crystal clearly. PW proudly positions itself as the last alt-weekly that offers a platform for contrarian voices in town – and yes, many of those are conservative (read: not mainstream).
If you want something that is different from the mainstream, offering a bigger picture of what is happening around you – that’s what we are promising to deliver with AltPhilly. I’ll be leading this endeavor, producing brand new features for members like on-camera interviews, exclusive, behind-the-scenes content and eventually podcasts. The benefits don’t stop there. I will be hosting monthly meet-ups with members to talk about whatever they want – the paper, news of the day, story suggestions, etc. While these will start virtually, I plan to have us meet in person at a local watering hole when larger groups can be accommodated.
Part of this experience will also include members being able to voice their opinions in an online forum or chat room, thus helping us editors and news producers understand what our members view as newsworthy and help shape our coverage.
PW has never been afraid to call it like it is, shine a light on subjects others won’t touch and recast issues that have been presented to you in only one fashion. In recent weeks, we exposed a record number of cops who had enrolled in DROP, thus putting into perspective what morale looks like within the Philadelphia Police Department. We presented a breakdown of how the city’s harsh COVID safety restrictions have hurt businesses in the hospitality and restaurant industry and ultimately had the balls to call for Mayor Jim Kenney’s resignation. Those are just a few examples of stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Week after week, we highlight new and up-and-coming artists, musicians and performers of all kinds to lift up members of the arts and culture community – these people have been our readership backbone for more than 30 years. We’re also still the city’s number one go-to source for things to do around town with our Rundown section of events and happenings.
And almost no topic is off limits for our sex, love and relationships columnist Timaree Schmit, whose columns are always blazing hot and super insightful.
But there is another reason you should consider joining AltPhilly, though. It’s because we don’t want PW to go the way of City Paper. We want to make sure PW sticks around in print and digital format for years to come.