At some point in 2014, the Independent’s second full year of publication, I doubted that we’d make it into year three.
I remember driving to get the mail, hoping we would receive enough checks to keep going. We’d fallen behind in paying our printer, and we had to pre-pay for our next print run—but there wasn’t enough money in the checking account. I’d used up all of my personal savings and tapped out my 401(k), and was on the verge of filing for personal bankruptcy.
Thankfully, we received a couple of checks—just enough to pay the printer.
A business line of credit helped us get into year three, although we burned through all of that money rather quickly. In year four, the bank all of a sudden called that money due—and I began to wonder if the Independent would survive into year five.
But slowly, surely, things started to improve. More advertising came in. We became better at business, tightening our belts without sacrificing quality. The red lines on the bottom of the monthly profit-and-loss statements started, sometimes, turning black.
Our readership grew, and the journalism awards began coming in. We grew—slower than I would have liked, but it was growth nonetheless—and we kept going. As we entered year eight, 2020, we had a strong financial plan.
Of course, we all know what happened next. In March 2020, the Independent suddenly lost 80 percent of its advertising revenue.
While we temporarily cut our circulation back—it’s hard for people to pick up newspapers when everything’s closed and everyone’s more or less staying home, after all—we never skipped an issue or cut staff. We asked our readers for help, and you stepped up, with hundreds of you becoming Supporters of the Independent. When that reader support was combined with help from Google and Facebook’s journalism funds, and various other grants, we made it into year nine. (However, we still need reader support; go here for details. Thanks for the consideration!)
Meanwhile, we upgraded our website into one of the best news sites in the state, and the quality of our journalism continues to be recognized. In fact, the California News Publishers Association earlier this year named our arts and entertainment coverage as the best among all non-daily newspapers in the state during the annual California Journalism Awards.
I am not sure how we made it, to be honest, but our November issue—our 100th print edition—is hitting the street this week. It’s also our ninth annual Pride Issue.
Thanks to all of you, our readers. Whether you’ve been with us since we brought our website out of beta on Jan. 1, 2013, or you just discovered the Independent, I am elated that you’re with us.