If you are reading this, we need your help.
Even if you aren’t, we need your help.
Urgently. And now. Normally, I hate writing letters like this. But the new reality that confronts us all — a mix of 9/11, the Dust Bowl, and the Black Death — is not remotely normal. If the Santa Barbara Independent is to continue doing its job — sifting fact from fiction in the onslaught of a pandemic that was both predictable but unimaginable — we need the resources to keep reporters on staff.
Or, to steal a line from Woody Guthrie — do re mi.
Even the Washington Post — owned by the richest man on the planet — is shrinking. When everything is canceled and shut down, who is left to advertise? But without advertising revenues, traditional papers tend to dry up and blow away. Journalism — nationwide — was already fighting for its life, before this withering wind struck. In this context, we at the Independent have been relatively blessed.
But such blessings only go only so far.
Now we need help.
Facts, it turns out, are not nearly as simple as they might appear. How many tests have been administered in Santa Barbara County? How many ventilators do Santa Barbara County health officials have at their disposal? What is the plan for when “the surge” strikes? These are simple questions to ask. Getting straight answers, however, can be more difficult. It’s time-consuming. It’s expensive. And we’re not done yet. Not by a long shot.
In the past two weeks, the Independent has received hundreds and hundreds of tips. Some are nothing more than wild rumors. Some reflect panic run amok. But many others have highlighted serious gaps in the medical supply chain. Or tell of dangerous corner-cutting at the expense of the vulnerable. Tracking these down is often difficult, but always time consuming.
It’s what reporters do every day.
To restate the obvious, today is anything but “everyday.”
We are asking those who rely on us for news to subscribe or donate to the Independent. A yearly subscription costs $29.99. That’s less than $3 a month. For a publication that does a better-than-passable impersonation of publishing both a daily and weekly newspaper, I have to say, that’s ridiculously cheap.
For those of you out there lucky enough to still have a well-paying job — or have some discretionary money jangling around in your sock drawer — we are asking more.
For the last two years, Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN) has sponsored a journalism fellowship for young writers eager to learn reporting skills. In this present crisis, SBCAN, in line with its mission to promote social justice and protect the environment, is graciously expanding this program to support environmental and social justice journalism. To help fund this program, we are asking our readers to donate $100 or more. It will be a tax-deductible donation. Through your generosity, reporters will receive a fellowship that will allow them to continue their work here at the Independent.
I wouldn’t ask if we didn’t need it.
Nick Welsh, Executive Editor
Check Donations over $100 (tax-deductible) should be made out to SBCAN and sent to
PO Box 6174
Santa Maria, CA 93456
Please Memo: Journalism Fund
Santa Barbara County Action Network is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit whose Tax ID is 73-1676916
Online subscriptions can be purchased at independent.com/subscribe.
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Contributions directly to the Independent can be made here.