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Fully-Local • Non-Partisan • Public-Service Journalism

It’s been a pivotal year

Tuesday, November 29, 2022 by Joel Gross

One year ago we removed our paywall and set a new course for our organization. For a small nonprofit news organization, this was a big change. 

We knew our in-depth and independent reporting would be the throughline and engine for this transition, so we felt solid on that front. But there were plenty of other key areas where we were hopeful, but still untested. Would we reach and resonate with new readers? Would we inspire our readers to take the extra but critical step and support our work? And would the community value and see this change for what it was – an essential transformation to step up and better serve the community during this high-stakes moment?

Now, with one year under our belt, we have so many promising signs that this was a meaningful, impactful and powerful decision on every front: 

This growth, engagement and momentum gave us the support to keep upping the ante in our core focus area: providing readers the reporting and resources to become more informed and engaged with their community. This past year saw:

In hindsight, it’s tempting to say we hoped this would be the outcome. But, regardless of how it played out, we believe removing the paywall needed to be done for the community. Local news – like schools and hospitals – is an essential community resource, designed to be accessible to everyone and led with a service mindset.

We do this work because we care about the community. So, in addition to being reflective and focused on the road ahead, we’re also asking for your support today. Your financial support helps us keep doing this community-focused, local reporting. And to help supercharge your end-of-year membership donation, we went out and got a big philanthropic match. 

That’s right, your support for this end-of-year period is matched dollar for dollar. Some nonprofit organizations find it tough to ask for support. Not us. We’re proud of our work and proud of the folks who support it from all over the community.

Will you be one of them today and help us keep pressing forward on this important new course?    

When local news starts to struggle and disappear (as is the case in Texas and the nation), the ramifications affect everyone. Corruption and bad policies arise and citizen engagement and community connection fall. Ultimately, this leads to a less-prosperous community. 

Austin is poised for great things, but it’s not immune from the systemic challenges facing local news and high-growth communities all over the country. With this recent election (which isn’t over; early runoff voting starts Dec. 1), we’ve just had a major change in leadership and we’re facing fundamental community issues that have reached a boiling point. 

This is the moment we find ourselves in and if our job is to inform and engage the community, we can’t take our foot off the gas. The Austin Monitor is not like most other news or media publications in that we don’t judge our success by our bottom line, and we don’t exist to generate shareholder return – we don’t even have shareholders. 

Our impact and purpose is inextricably tied to the community. If more community members discover, understand and engage with local issues, then we’re doing our job, and the result is a more prosperous future for all. 

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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