ROCKINGHAM — Local news website PeeDeePost.com is shutting down, its owner and operator said in a story posted to the site late Saturday.
Kevin Spradlin, who started PeeDeePost.com on April 28, 2014 after seven months as editor of the Richmond County Daily Journal, said profits from the business were too small to allow for expansion.
“This is not an easy decision, but in order to keep up with demand, PeeDeePost.com’s paid staff needed to grow,” Spradlin wrote in a Saturday night news story. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t make that happen over a period of months and the status quo didn’t allow the PDP to accomplish its goals or fulfill its mission.”
Spradlin declined to comment for the story when reached by phone Sunday.
Spradlin rented an office in the former Sinclair filling station at 301 E. Washington St. next door to the Discovery Place Kids museum. The business touted seven-day-a-week online coverage of Richmond County news and events.
Since launching PeeDeePost.com, Spradlin has served as the website’s sole full-time writer. Several Richmond County residents have served as weekly columnists or occasional contributors.
Online advertisements sold by community members including Pam Dillman, a former Richmond County commissioner, and Sharon Nichols, a businesswoman and dance teacher, provided the bulk of PeeDeePost.com’s revenue.
The business also launched a crowdfunding campaign last October, raising more than $3,000 in voluntary contributions from readers who sought to help it stay afloat.
On Feb. 15, Spradlin announced that the website would “suspend operations” for a two-week period due to financial concerns. He resumed publishing original articles on PeeDeePost.com March 2 after raising about $2,500 in contributions.
“I started this venture on a shoestring budget, and I’m out of shoestring,” Spradlin wrote in February.
Spradlin appears to have considered incorporating PeeDeePost.com as a nonprofit organization. He joined the Institute for Nonprofit News, an Encino, California-based professional association, according to an April 21 story on the INN website.
The Internal Revenue Service does not list PeeDeePost.com as a tax-exempt organization, though Spradlin wrote on the site’s “About us” page that tax forms and audits would be made publicly available beginning in 2016.
Industry analysts say online news startups often face funding challenges. Roughly a quarter of the 141 news sites listed in a Columbia Journalism Review database begun in 2010 have shuttered.
DavidsonNews.net, which featured local coverage from Lake Norman and northern Mecklenburg County, announced May 29 it was shutting down after nine years in business.
A Pew Research Center study found that most news websites are run by journalists who devote more of their time to producing content than devising long-term business strategies.
“Unless and until people running news sites take the business of their businesses as seriously as they take their journalism, the failures will continue,” Reflections of a Newsosaur blogger and Silicon Valley CEO Alan D. Mutter wrote in a June 25 op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.
PeeDeePost.com’s online archives, which include news stories, columns and obituaries, “should remain accessible through March 31, 2016,” Spradlin wrote.
Reach Editor Corey Friedman at 910-817-2670 and follow him on Twitter @corey_friedman.