In a post Friday morning, David Boraks said the decision to shutter the sites has been “painful and frustrating.” He cited lagging advertising revenue and a dropoff in voluntary financial support from readers.
Boraks told the Observer he had seen the closure coming for a while. He recalled one particular meeting in February with his chief operating officer, Lyndsay Kibiloski, in which the two questioned how long the business would be sustainable.
“We both looked at each other and agreed that we’re exhausted and we didn’t see it changing anytime soon,” Boraks said.
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In the post, Boraks noted that most local advertising money goes to print publications. He also lamented how local businesses tend to buy ad space on sites like Google or Facebook rather than on community news sites.
“We’re also grateful to the small number of readers who understand that community news can’t be free,” Boraks wrote. “But there aren’t enough of you.”
The two news sites have reported local news about the Lake Norman area since late 2006. The decision to cease publication, Boraks said, actually comes at a time when local readership is at an all-time high, reaching more than 100,000 unique visitors a month.
Boraks worked in the Observer newsroom from 1993 to 2000. He said he will continue to work weekends as an anchor at WFAE and is “looking around for the next opportunity” as well as his “first paycheck in a decade.”
“I’ve been a journalist for almost four decades, so it’s in my blood,” Boraks told the Observer. “I’m sure I will land on my feet doing something else in journalism.”
Boraks wrote that his two colleagues – Kibiloski, who helped build the two sites, and Brandon Butler, their advertising rep – are “planning a new business venture.” Several other employees have new positions lined up, Boraks wrote, and others will take time off.
In a similar farewell post Friday morning, Kibiloski also cited weak sales and anemic reader donations. Selling online advertising, she wrote, “has been like trying to get people to eat kale.”
“They know it’s good for them, but most won’t touch it, let alone eat it,” she said.
Peralta: 704-358-5079; Twitter: @katieperalta