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Publisher’s Note: One Year/One Month

Monday, October 6, 2014 by Michael Kanin

A note from Monitor publisher Mike Kanin:

As of last Wednesday, it has been one year since we acquired what was formerly In Fact Daily from the Austin American-Statesman.  Somehow, the occasion got a little lost. This probably had something to do with the fact that it was a City Council week. It might also have something to do with our continuing focus on the new platform — as good a reason as any, I’d argue, to let an anniversary like that go by.

A lot has changed in a year. A lot has changed in two months. On both counts, I’m very proud of our team, now helmed by new Editor-In-Chief Elizabeth Pagano. We are producing, on average, double the amount of stories we’d been writing this time in 2013. We are out in the community, co-hosting and co-moderating a series of very well-attended Austin City Council candidate forums. Partnerships with the likes of KUT have expanded our reach, and the new tiered pay meter has brought greater access to more subscribing members of our community.

I’ll put a few numbers to those statements. When the Capital of Texas Media Foundation formally took the reins from the Statesman, In Fact generally ran about two or three stories a day. The Monitor runs about four or five. For the most part, we have seen the uptick in two key places: Our coverage of development issues — on-the-ground watch-dogging of the city’s Planning Commission, for example — and our coverage of this one-of-a-kind election season. Of course, the development coverage will continue apace. In addition, as the civic calendar moves from election season to inauguration day, we will be able to use our growing editorial resources to offer more detailed coverage of City Hall than ever before.

As for the forums, along with our partners at KUT, KXAN, the Austin Chronicle and Univision, we are entering the home stretch of 11 in-district forums designed to give Austinites a chance to vet the candidates running for seats in their regions on home turf. Turnout — in terms of both candidates and audience — has been excellent. More importantly, the dialogue has been robust. These events end a week from this Wednesday with our mayoral candidates’ forum. Five days later, early voting begins. I think we (and our partners) can feel gratified by the role we have played in what, as you all know, is a historic election season.

After two bumpy weeks with our new login system, I am pleased to say that most technical issues appear to be solved. We had expected a rough patch, and I am happy to say that I think we are now through it, and on to whatever is next. For us, that means continued iteration with our platform. We expect to keep changing the site as better approaches continue to present themselves. For you, this means an ongoing opportunity to affect how your Monitor works. Indeed, your concerns about Whispers — Where are they? Do you still write them? — have been heard. Liz and I are working on a few things. In the meantime, our new Reporter’s Notebook feature is intended to bring back the old-school feel of In Fact’s Whispers section.

That is the long way of writing: Keep your suggestions, praise, complaints, what-have-you coming. All of it is valuable to me.

I’ll close with another set of numbers. Since Aug. 18, when the new site went live, we’ve seen 51 new subscribers sign on via the tiered system. Three of these folks are ‘All Access’ users, 29 of them are ‘Civic Enthusiast’ readers, and 20 new users are of the ‘Keep Me Informed’ variety. This is coupled with what appears to be a simultaneous truing of large-contact readers. These are folks from area institutions that subscribe for a set amount that grants a certain amount of access for their employees. We have made a conscious move away from a password/login combo for two reasons: one is that we wanted a system less vulnerable to electronic incursion; the second is that we wanted to understand our readers better. Our new system means that passwords cannot be shared. And, as positive a development as that might be for our bottom line, it is also — perhaps more importantly — a better way for us to understand who our readers are.

Together, these developments have raised a readership that was at 406 on import day to one that is, just four weeks later, at about 580. And this figure does not count the number of folks who are now able to read the publication without becoming subscribing members. I will have more on that next time.

Until then: Thanks. You have been awesome. And you’ve made our first year/first month more than a little memorable. I hope we have done the same for you.

Mike Kanin
Publisher, Austin Monitor

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