CVIndependent

Fri09182020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

So, uh, hi. How’s the pandemic been treating you?

Here at the Independent, we’ve been working harder than we ever. I’ve been dividing time between looking for funding, getting out our new Daily Digests five or six times a week (sign up for them here), new projects, and doing the “normal” Independent work (writing, editing, posting stories, etc.).

Here’s how that’s going:

• Our staff and contributors have been doing amazing journalism. Want proof? Look at all of the content compiled in our May print edition. Even though we don’t have enough advertising support to justify it, we decided to bump up this issue to 32 pages so print readers could get all of the important news and information we covered in April—regarding everything from the struggles of our local senior centers and domestic-violence agencies, to news on how our schools are coping, to advice on how to cut down on food waste. I can’t thank our writers and designers enough for all the work they’re doing.

• I am proud to announce that the Coachella Valley Independent is one of 400 local newsrooms around North America that received a $5,000 grant from the Facebook Journalism Project, in partnership with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association, to help us continue our reporting on the coronavirus crisis. We’re honored to be one of the recipients of this grant. Not only is it evidence of the quality work we're doing at the Independent; it’s a testament to all of the support and feedback we have received from you, our readers. I thank all of you who have reached out and offered a kind thought, or words of encouragement, or constructive criticism, in the last couple of months. This grant and your support will help us continue to do what we do—honest, local, ethical journalism, available for free to all.

• However … that $5,000 grant, while beyond helpful, doesn’t even cover one month of the losses in business we’ve had as a result of the pandemic. That’s why I am sooooo grateful to everyone who’s become a Supporter of the Independent in recent months. Dozens of readers have stepped up with amounts between $5 and $500—but again, it’s still not enough to make up for our other revenue losses due to the pandemic. If you’d like to join them and help us continue doing what we’re doing, visit our Supporters page.

• You can also support the Independent, the CREATE Center for the Arts and local artists by purchasing our local-art coloring-book project, Coloring the Coachella Valley Vol. 1. It features the work of local artists, as well as Independent file photos converted into coloring pages. All the proceeds will be split between the Independent, the CREATE Center and the artists whose work is inside. The 24-page book is available as both a digital download and as a printed 8.5 by 11 book, on quality paper, by the UPS Store. The digital downloads cost $20 each; both the digital download and the print version are available for $30 each (shipping included). Learn more and see a few sample pieces here.

• We know virtually every local small business is struggling right now—so we’ve started our new Adopt a Small Business program, an initiative designed to promote locally owned businesses AND support local journalism. You can help a favorite small business advertise in the Independent—at highly discounted rates: For $199, the small business will receive a quarter-page ad in a monthly print edition of the Independent; run-of-site ads in rotation for a month at CVIndependent.com; and at least one ad per week for a month in the Independent’s Daily Digest. The value of this package is more than $600. Find details here.

Thanks for reading the Coachella Valley Independent. Hang in there. Better days are coming.

—Jimmy Boegle,
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Published in Editor's Note

I speak for the vast majority of local small-business owners when I say the last month has been pretty terrible.

(Yeah, I know I speak for the vast majority of everyone when I say that. But bear with me here.)

First, seemingly overnight, a good chunk (or, in some cases, all) of our business just evaporated. Then we went into survival mode—looking for new revenue opportunities if possible, researching grants, applying for grants, feverishly reading news on the stimulus bill and the aid it might provide, and then getting deeply confused and frustrated at the conflicting information we received after the bill passed, and then getting even MORE confused and frustrated when we started to actually apply for the PPP and/or the SBA Disaster Loan, or is it a grant, and should we apply for one, or both, and WHY IS THE BANK NOT TAKING APPLICATIONS YET, and what does “cost of goods sold” EVEN mean, and when will I hear back, and what in the holy bloody frick is happening, and I haven’t gotten any REAL work done between all the applications and Zoom meetings with well-meaning organizations, and AAAAAAAARRRGH?

Yeah. It’s been like that.

Anyway … I am proud to announce that, in our case, all of this lead to something very good: The Coachella Valley Independent is one of 400 local newsrooms around North America that has received a $5,000 grant from the Facebook Journalism Project, in partnership with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and Local Media Association, to help us continue our reporting on the coronavirus crisis. You can read the complete list of recipients here.

We’re honored to be one of the recipients of this grant—and not only is it evidence of the quality work we're doing at the Independent; it’s a testament to all of the support and feedback we have received from you, our readers. I can’t thank all of you who have reached out and offered a kind thought, or words of encouragement, or constructive criticism, in the last month or so. I also want to again thank the dozens of you who have become Supporters of the Independent in recent weeks. This grant and your support will help us continue to do what we do—honest, local, ethical journalism, available to all.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean I get to stop the survival-mode scramble. I’ll still be applying for other grants, and inquiring about the status of the Independent’s SBA Disaster Loan, and wondering if I should apply for the PPP thing, too—because the grant from Facebook, plus the reader support we’ve received (while fantastic and much-appreciated), will only make up for a small fraction of the business we’re going to lose in the months ahead.

And not only are we trying to tread water and keep doing what we’re doing here at the Independent; we want to do more. Our community needs good, local coverage more than ever, because … well, where else can people get it? The Desert Sun’s staff is going through what amounts to a 25 percent staffing decrease due to a loss in revenue, and other local media is suffering as well.

So far, none of my staffers or contributors here at the Independent have been furloughed or asked to take cuts. The goal is not to make any cuts—and, in fact, I have asked my contributors to do more pieces, for pay, if they can. (Hey, that reminds me: If you have writing and reporting skills, and want to help tell the Coachella Valley’s stories, drop me a line. The pay’s not great—but we do pay.)

Again, thank you to Facebook Journalism Project, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the Local Media Association and—most of all—you, our readers. It’s just going to take a while, so hang in there—but we’re gonna get through this, as long as we keep supporting each other.

Now, today’s links:

• The Independent’s Kevin Fitzgerald talked to the heads of three local senior centers about the challenges they’re facing while trying to provide services to the population that’s most at-risk during the pandemic. At a time when they can’t actually offer services in person. And with a sudden, unexpected loss in revenue. This isn’t always an easy read—but it’s a must-read, and it’s also, at times, an inspiring read.

• Yesterday, we painted a fairly positive picture about how we’re #flatteningthecurve locally. Therefore, I wanted to point out the numbers and projections that Riverside County issued today, which are, frankly, much more grim—starting with the projection that the county will run out of ICU beds in just six days. It’s important to note that the Coachella Valley has less than a fifth of Riverside County’s population, and what we’re hearing on the ground here is much less dire. The takeaway: Regardless, we need to keep staying at home, wearing masks when we do go out, and generally behaving like civic-minded adults.

• Oh, and we really need to stop flushing wipes! Even the ones that say they’re “flushable”! Just TP!

• This story is developing: After all but one employee didn’t show up to work, the 84 patients at Riverside’s Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center were moved to various locations, including a couple in the Coachella Valley. Just awful.

• If you were curious how national treasure Carol Burnett was handling the stay-at-home order, The Hollywood Reporter has this article for you.

• Have you been having weird dreams during this semi-quarantined existence? You’re certainly not alone.

Is it possible that COVID-19 came to California in the fall? Stanford researchers are looking into that definite possibility.

• Workers at supermarkets and other retail businesses that remain open are literally risking their lives to keep society up and running. God bless you.

• Well, the Independent made another list, of media organizations where “US journalists working across more than 1,000 local newspapers and other publications are facing cuts due to the economic hit their employers have taken on coronavirus.” Thankfully, the Independent has thus far avoided this list of newsroom layoffs, furloughs and closures.

• If you’re using beer, wine or spirits to cope with this mess … well, again, you’re not alone—and scientists worry all this extra drinking could have significant health costs down the line.

Will warm weather help calm the spread of COVID-19? We still don’t know for sure, but don’t count on it.

• Good news: For some diabetics, one drug-maker is capping the co-pay costs of insulin during the crisis.

• Journalism teachable moment: Always read past the headline. This Wall Street Journal headline is downright horrifying: “Nearly a Third of U.S. Apartment Renters Didn’t Pay April Rent.” First … these stats only take into account rents paid through April 5. Second, here’s the story’s third graph: “Only 69% of tenants paid any of their rent between April 1 and 5, compared with 81% in the first week of March and 82% in April 2019, the data show.” So … while 31 percent didn’t pay any of their rent before the April 5, that number represents a 12 percent difference from last year—which is still very revealing, but nowhere near as WTF?! as the headline implies. If I were the editor of The Wall Street Journal, the headline-writer for this piece would be in some deep shit right now.

• Former Independent contributor (and a friend) Baynard Woods writes this piece for The Washington Post about his bout with what he thinks was COVID-19. It shows how important it is to have a true quarantine plan, just in case.

That’s enough for today. Wash your hands. Only flush TP and … well, you know—BUT NOT ANY WIPES. If you’re an artist, you have not-quite two days left to get us your art for our very-cool coloring book projectIf you’re able, please support us so we can continue to cover the Coachella Valley—and even do more—during this unprecedented time. Now, wash your hands again. More tomorrow.

Published in Daily Digest