A year and a half ago, we created The Pulse with a simple mission: to provide Pensacola and the Gulf Coast with a fearless, locally-owned, truly independent source for news, commentary, and more.
Since then, we’ve reported stories that no one else would touch. We’ve examined the conduct of powerful public figures, chronicled local government and how it shapes our lives, and worked to shine a light on untold stories throughout our community. We’ve highlighted the role of big money donations in our local politics and questioned whether unchecked development threatens to erase our city’s rich history.
A lot of people told us we were crazy to launch a local news company in an era where local newsrooms across the country are facing steep cuts and layoffs. Maybe we were — but in our minds, the decline of local journalism is the reason this is so necessary. We’ve never been in this for the money; anyone who’s worked in local journalism recently knows that there isn’t any.
We’re in this because we love Pensacola and the Gulf Coast, and because there are stories that need to be told. Unlike big media conglomerates, we measure our success in terms of readers reached, not dollars billed. Before we ever published a story, we built a website that was focused on content, not advertisements. We don’t have, and won’t ever have, annoying ads that autoplay videos or take over your whole screen.
From the beginning, we decided that — unlike much of Pensacola’s existing media establishment — we wouldn’t let advertising dollars dictate how and what we report; that we wouldn’t engage in “pay for play” journalism and that nothing would be off-limits. As you can imagine, that’s cost us materially. On more that one occasion, we’ve lost out on advertising dollars because of stories we’ve investigated and stands we’ve taken. Many of Pensacola’s so-called “power players” would surely be happy to see us fold.
We’re not going anywhere. We run a lean operation and our revenue covers our overhead and operating expenses. But we don’t just want to survive; we want to thrive. The status quo isn’t good enough. We want to be better. We want to investigate the dozens of leads we haven’t been able to get to. We want to tell the stories that remain untold.
That’s why today, we’re launching a Patreon campaign and announcing our plans to move to a community-supported funding model. It’s a framework that’s been adopted with success by other community news organizations like the Asheville Blade.
“I never have to consider if a story I run is going to make me take a financial hit,” Blade publisher David Forbes told NiemanLab. “That lack of pressure gives us a huge amount of independence.”
If you value what we do — fearless, fiercely independent, community-driven reporting with local ownership — then we’re asking you to show your support. Every dollar we raise from the community will go toward expanding our research and reporting capabilities. Additional part-time or full-time staff will enable us to dig deeper, investigate more leads, and cover more of the stories that are important to you.
With more community funding will come more community input in what we cover. Patrons will be included in our new community stakeholder group, which we’ll use to help us decide which issues and stories deserve our focus and our resources.
Our loyalty has always been, and will always be, with our readers. Moving to a community-supported model will keep it there. With your support, we’ll continue to ask the questions no one else is asking; to speak truth to power; and to cover the stories that might otherwise never see the light of day.