CVIndependent

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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

As the July print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent hits the streets this week, I have decidedly mixed feelings.

On the good side … I am pretty happy with the issue. One of the news stories inside of it is Kevin Fitzgerald’s update on the legal drama surrounding California’s End of Life Option Act. In recent weeks, the law—which gives terminally ill people with less than six months to live the chance to get life-ending drugs and then use them, if they so choose—was ruled unconstitutional and suspended, before being reinstated on appeal. The ultimate fate of the End of Life Option Act probably won’t be decided for a while—in fact, it probably won’t until the Supreme Court of California gets involved.

Speaking of Kevin’s ongoing coverage of the End of Life Option Act: We just learned that it has won a national award. The Association of Alternative Newsmedia has named Kevin and the Independent as a finalist in the Beat Reporting category for publications with a circulation less than 40,000. This is the second year in a row, and the third time in four years, that the Independent has won an AAN Award—despite the fact that we’re one of the smallest publications in the association. I couldn’t be more proud.

On the not-so-good side … I felt disheartened when I looked over this year’s list of AAN Award finalists—because a whole lot of amazing journalism was done in 2017 by publications that have since been gutted. The Houston Press nabbed eight awards—largely for work done before the owners laid off almost the entire staff and eliminated the print edition after a loss of business due to Hurricane Harvey. LA Weekly won seven—for journalism done before new ownership took over late last year and annihilated the staff.

Meanwhile, here at home, the Independent, like many Coachella Valley businesses, is trudging through the economically slow part of the year. Let me make it clear: We’re on firm financial footing, and we aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean our figurative financial belts aren’t tighter than we’d like them to be.

Therefore, I am asking all of you brilliant, insightful readers for your financial support. We don’t charge for our content, online or in print; it’s free and open to all, and always will be. That said … great stories—like Kevin’s End of Life Option Act coverage—cost money to produce, edit and publish. So, if you have a buck or two to spare, I ask you to consider heading to our Supporters of the Independent page—or, heck, send us a check. Even $5 or $10 is greatly appreciated.

Whether or not you have that extra buck or two to send our way … as always, thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any feedback.

Published in Editor's Note

It’s been an eventful month for me and the Coachella Valley Independent. Here are some notes and thoughts.

• I was fortunate enough to attend the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. It was a wonderful gathering of motivated independent journalists from around North America.

Make no mistake: Some (but not all) independent local newspapers are struggling. However, those of us in the industry are working on finding new ways to bring readers the news they need—and coming up with innovative ways to pay for it.

Some alternative newspapers—from Boston to Little Rock to Santa Fe to Baltimore—are starting nonprofits, opening doors to grants and other journalism-funding sources. Others are using new technologies to tell their communities’ stories in fascinating new ways. It was truly exciting to see the energy and excitement displayed by so many editors, writers and publishers.

Oh, and one more tidbit from the conference: I’d previously mentioned that the Independent was a finalist for a national Association of Alternative Newsmedia award. Well, I am elated to report that Anita Rufus’ “Know Your Neighbors” took first place in the Column category for smaller newspapers. In other words, in the eyes of contest judges, “Know Your Neighbors” is the top column in alternative newspapers with a circulation of less than 45,000 in the entire country.

• We celebrated Anita’s columns, as well as all sorts of other great work the Independent has done over the last five years, from Aug. 1-20 during our Supporters of the Independent membership drive.

I am happy to report that we received some great support during the drive—but not as much as I was anticipating. A sizable handful of readers signed up for memberships at higher levels, but few readers signed up for memberships at the smaller levels.

However, I was honored and touched by the expressions of appreciation we did receive from readers. Take, for example, the letter we received from Eva Mansell, along with a $20 check. “Hi and THANK YOU for what you all do! Wish it could be more, but I’m on a low, fixed income … but I (so) appreciate the (astronomy column), the local issues/politics and articles.”

Thank you, Eva. That letter made my month.

It’s not too late to join Eva in supporting the Independent. Visit CVIndependent.com/Supporters, or write us at the address at the top left.

• Season is almost here … so that means the Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll is here, too! First-round voting in some 130-plus categories is now under way; click here to vote! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions!

As always, thanks for reading. Also, keep your eyes open for the September 2017 print edition of the Independent, hitting the streets of the Coachella Valley in 380-plus locations this week!

Published in Editor's Note

Let’s face it: August is not the best month for business in the Coachella Valley.

If there’s onetime during the year that a restaurant will be closed, it’s probably going to be in August. August is the most popular month for us locals to take vacations—in part because the weather is scorching, and it’s already been scorching for several months, and we’re tired of it.

However, most of us are still here in August. Therefore, news and arts and foodie stuff still happens—and that’s why those of us here at the Independent don’t take the month off, and instead keep working as hard as we always do.

Still … August is not the best month for business in the Coachella Valley, and that goes for us here at the Independent, too. That’s why we have decided to hold our first-ever Supporters of the Independent membership drive this month—and while doing so, we’re going to celebrate some of the great journalism the Independent has done in our almost five years of existence.

From today through Aug. 20, we’ll highlight a story from our archives on our social-media platforms each day. Today's piece is the first-ever print edition cover story in the Coachella Valley Independent: "Coachella Valley 2035: Our Region Is Becoming Older, More Latino and a Lot More Crowded," published on March 29, 2013, and the cover story in the April 2013 issue. This piece analyzed local growth projections and talked about the future our valley faces—including serious problems and challenges.

To help us continue doing great stories like this, we are asking you to join our Supporters of the Independent program.

Our content is offered free to all, both in print and online—and it always will be. We don’t have pay walls, and we don’t sell subscriptions. However, a Supporters of the Independent membership gives readers a chance to contribute directly to the Independent and our mission statement: “The Coachella Valley Independent is the valley’s source of independent news, arts coverage, commentary and culture. We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. We want to be a mirror for the entire Coachella Valley. We want to inform, enlighten and entertain. We will never let advertisers determine what we cover, and how we cover things. In other words, we will always tell it how we see it. For example: Some other publications in this valley do puff-piece reviews or feature stories on advertisers to make said advertisers happy. We will never, ever do that. If we lose an advertiser due to an unflattering story, a negative review or something else, so be it.”

I hope you’ll consider joining our Supporters of the Independent program; you can join for as little as $10, and all members get cool perks. For more information, visit CVIndependent.com/supporters.

Also: Please pick up the August 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, now in 380-plus locations across the valley. As always, thanks for reading.

Published in Editor's Note

We are living in unprecedented times, as far as national politics is concerned.

This thought kept coming to mind as I read the latest installment of Democracy in Crisis published by the Independent. Writer Baynard Woods, simply and briefly, lays out 13 anecdotes that show how authoritarianism is on the rise in our country.

Reporters arrested. Protesters arrested. Conflicts of interest being flouted and going unchecked. Sigh.

However, there’s at least one silver lining I’m finding in all the chaos: It’s clear that great journalism is alive and well in the United States.

Some of the reporting we’ve seen from The New York Times and the Washington Post, just for starters, has been amazing. In recent weeks, these papers exposed the fact that our president apparently revealed classified information to the Russians—jeopardizing, at the very least, relationships with countries with whom we partner on intelligence. They reported that our president apparently asked our FBI director to lay off of an investigation of him—before the president would go on to fire that very FBI director.

Closer to home, the Los Angeles Times in April published an unprecedented six-part editorial series titled “Our Dishonest President,” which made the clear case that Donald Trump is unfit for office.

As always, smaller news outlets are doing great work, too. Take Democracy in Crisis as an example; it’s a joint project of alternative papers around the country, including the Coachella Valley Independent.

While it’s inspiring and amazing to see all of this great journalism, it’s important to point out that these aforementioned newspapers are operating with a fraction of the resources they had, say, 10 or 15 years ago.

That’s why it’s vital that you support great journalism: Buy a newspaper subscription, or two, or three. Advertise. Pay for online articles. It costs money to do well-reported, well-written, well-edited stories.

In that vein, if you like what the Independent is doing, consider throwing a few bucks our way. Both our print version and CVIndependent.com have always been and always will be free to all—but you can join our Supporters of the Independent program for just $10, or even less. Find details at CVindependent.com/supporters.

By the way, pick up the June 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets this week and early next week. As always, thanks for reading—and if you have thoughts or feedback, email me anytime.

Published in Editor's Note

A few weeks back, a fantastic discussion ignited in one of the alternative-newsmedia e-mail groups to which I belong. The topic was readership campaigns—advertising campaigns by newspapers to promote themselves to their own readers.

Some of the slogans being used in these campaigns are brilliant—especially the ones created by our friends at The Austin Chronicle in Texas.

You need us. We need you. Support free press. Read us, follow us, advertise with us.

No news is bad news. We need each other.

Truth is truth. Whether you like them or not, facts aren’t fake. We report the news at no cost to you, and no matter the cost to us.

We here at the Independent will be, uh, “borrowing” some of these ideas (with The Austin Chronicle’s blessing, of course).

These truly are unprecedented times in which we’re living. The attacks on the press by the Trump administration are simply shocking. Beyond the insults and slights, Trump and other members of his administration are picking and choosing which reporters get basic access—of course, less-critical media sources get dibs—that is, if any reporters get access.

(The same thing happens on the local level. We recently reached out to Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon to talk about the downtown redevelopment project and its current entanglements; we got a response from the city PR person saying Moon and other city officials were not giving any interviews regarding the criminal proceedings involving the downtown redevelopment project. Three weeks later, Moon and others sat down with KMIR for a special regarding these very topics. Apparently, Moon and the city PR folks feared what types of questions we’d ask. Read more here.)

On the positive side, these unprecedented times have forced many media sources to drop the outdated, dishonest myth of “objectivity,” and instead start calling, as the saying goes, a spade a spade. It’s been downright refreshing to see CNN, The New York Times and other mainstream media sources start calling lies, well, lies. Sometimes, there is no “other side” to a story. Truth is truth. Whether you like them or not, facts aren’t fake.

As another of those Austin Chronicle ads says … we really do need you. Without our readers, the Independent is just paper or pixels. I hope you feel like you need us, too. Please, tell your friends about us. Give us feedback. Support our advertisers—and tell them you saw their ad in the Independent. And if you’re feeling particularly generous, please go to CVIndependent.com/Supporters and sign up for our Supporters of the Independent program.

The April 2017 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent—our special Music Issue—is hitting streets valley-wide this week. As always, thanks for reading, and don’t hesitate to contact me.

Published in Editor's Note

One of the traditional jobs of the alternative press has been to cover the faults and foibles of other local media. After all, if we don’t do it, who else will?

Here at the Independent, we have not been doing that as much as I’d like. Sure, we’ve done some stuff here and there—railing on the advertising that masquerades as editorial coverage in other local publications, for example. But I think we could, and should, be doing it more.

This is one reason why I am excited about, of all things, our recent Restaurant News Bites column. Much of the column, which I wrote, focuses on a lazy, inaccurate story one local TV-news operation did—unfairly maligning a local business in the process.

Check it out, and let me know what you think.

That’s just one of the things we’ve done recently about which I am excited. After a summer hiatus, we’re welcoming back Deidre Pike’s fantastic wine column, Sniff the Cap. Our news section has recently been packed with great stories—on the financial dilemma facing local water agencies as they try to meet state-mandated conservation goals; on a unique operation the Palm Springs Police Department is conducting to curb bicycle theft; and on the phenomenon that is presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. That Bernie Sanders story was done for us by a writer for Seven Days, the alternative newspaper in Burlington, Vt.—the place where Sanders got his political start more than three decades ago, when he became the city’s mayor.

There's also Brian Blueskye's in-depth music story on local band the Yip Yops—who just signed an impressive deal with a management company/record label. You won’t believe the story about the chance encounter that ultimately led the Yip Yops to that deal.

By the way: You can find all of the aforementioned stories in the September print issue, hitting streets now.

In other news, I’d like to remind everyone of two things I mentioned last month: First: The initial round of our Best of Coachella Valley voting kicks off here at CVIndependent.com on Monday, Aug. 31.

Second: We’ve finally launched our Supporters of the Independent Program. Like what we do? Consider supporting us with an annual, monthly or one-time contribution. If you consider it and decide to contribute—fantastic! You’ll get some cool perks in return. If you decide against it, or are unable to do so, no worries: Our content, both print and online, will always remain completely free of charge. Find details on the Supporters of the Independent Program on here.

As always, thanks for reading.

Published in Editor's Note