Two weeks ago, in our Oct. 5 issue, we published our annual circulation statement, required of all newspapers delivered through the U.S. Postal Service. The numbers reflect the Independent’s continued growth: our total paid circulation as of Oct. 1 was 5,963, up almost 10 percent from a year earlier.
The Indie is still a startup, so it makes sense that we are growing. But the fact that more people are reading this newspaper every week confirms one of our biggest reasons for launching it. Many long-established U.S. newspapers continue to lose readers at an alarming rate. The standard explanation is that people have lost faith in the press. But what about trying to create a high-quality newspaper? One committed to principles of excellent journalism but also rooted in the community and ready to tell its stories and explore its history. Our hope was that readers would support that.
Growth in advertising has helped us. And as the editor wrote in this space recently, we should all be grateful for that, because that kind of support reflects the resilience of local businesses and their owners’ commitment to this place.
Another kind of growth the Independent has worked for is in ownership. In August we completed our Direct Public Offering of stock. With that, 266 people became owners of the newspaper with modest investments averaging $1,400. That offering raised $375,000 in working capital, making it possible for us to take the next steps in the paper’s journey to long-term sustainability. (We haven’t finished selling the shares we issued for accredited investors; there, we’re at $290,000 of our $375,000 goal.)
That growth confirms another of our founding ideas: that broad community participation in owning public assets like news organizations is a healthy thing — inspiring our collective commitment to democracy.
At our annual shareholders meeting in June, we reported that staffing was our biggest challenge. Thanks to our investors, we’ve made progress on that. This fall, we’ve welcomed associate editor Paul Sullivan, new reporters Elias Duncan, William von Herff, and Olivia Oldham, and advertising sales representative Hannah Oakland to our office in Whaler’s Wharf. Now we need to find a couple of experienced editors.
The first weekly edition of the Independent was published on Oct. 10, 2019. As we celebrate the Indie’s fourth birthday we are inevitably sobered by the news from the wider world. What is the role of this small project in the face of the overwhelming threats to democracy and peace?
Our minds go to a letter one of our new investors, Nate Mayo, wrote us about why it’s important to keep going: “Algorithm-fueled digital ‘news’ keeps our blood pumping and our eyeballs trained on the screen. It crowds out real, nuanced dialog. It amplifies fabrications and wild distortions that encourage us to fear and hate, tapping into an emotional core in order to overwhelm our intellect and our reasoning.”
Here on Outer Cape Cod, we are pursuing a different vision. We thank you for being a part of it.