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New front-page features connect ‘Monitor’ readers with the issues shaping our city

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 by Joel Gross

July was a special month for the Austin Monitor on numerous fronts. Since making the bold and important decision to remove our paywall at the end of the 2021, we’ve reached nearly 150,000 new readers. Though early into our new model, we see this growth as a great sign for further elevating our impact. It’s also a clear sign that the need for nonpartisan, in-depth news and local coverage is much greater than we anticipated. More than anything, this is a call to action and we’re just getting started.  

Last month also marked our first-ever Summer Membership Drive. The shift to our fully accessible news model means we not only serve more of the community, we also rely on support from you and your fellow readers more than ever before. Scores of new members joined and over a third came on as sustaining monthly supporters. Hundreds of readers from across the community now count themselves as members of the Austin Monitor, and we simply cannot do the work without their support. 

The new Featured Collection helps readers stay on top of actively developing issues.

Finally, this past week marked the launch of an impressive new group of community leaders to our strategic advisory council. As you might recall, we created our council last year to help navigate our transition to a fully accessible, community-focused news organization. We received such valuable feedback and guidance that we again put a call out to our reader community to get involved with this special leadership initiative. We were blown away by the interest and are so honored to have these individuals helping strengthen our work and impact.  

This strong momentum and support is directly invested in our service to you and the community. This comes in the form of three new front-page features that will allow you and your neighbors to become more deeply connected and engaged with our work and the important issues shaping our city.

A featured data graphic provides more context for stories.

First, our front page will now include a featured collection of timely stories intended to help you closely follow the progression of important issues. This feature is designed to complement our core reporting areas and draw attention to more topical and actively developing issues. 

Second is the launch of a featured data graphic on our front page. Over the past three years, data journalism has become an indispensable news resource for gaining a deeper understanding about our most pressing and dynamic issues. Pulling forward engaging community data visuals provides additional context for our readers and is aligned with our in-depth editorial approach.

Third, many of the areas we report on include opportunities for community members to actively get involved and add their voices. This type of public engagement is an essential ingredient of a healthy community and a strong democracy. Our third front-page feature will directly connect readers to all of the civic engagement opportunities that come across our radar. These opportunities will also be highlighted in our Whispers to allow you to play a greater role in shaping the future of our community.  

Civic engagement opportunities – highlighted in yellow – help readers get more involved in their communities.

As a nonprofit news organization, our structure is uniquely designed to serve the community. Since our progress and success are directly linked to the community, our work creates a virtuous cycle that gives directly back to the community. Our notable reader growth, strong Summer Membership Drive and expanded strategic advisory council have all allowed us to launch three new front-page features that are designed to help you and fellow community members discover, understand, follow, and engage more directly with the most important issues and decisions in our community. That’s a story I can get behind.  

Joel Gross is the CEO of the Austin Monitor

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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