One year ago, I pressed “send” on the very first Peterborough Currents email newsletter.
Back then, my co-publisher Ayesha and I were only just beginning to process the monumental disruptions that the COVID-19 pandemic would cause in our lives and in the life of our community.
We thought we were starting a newsletter that might help to make sense of those disruptions and keep people connected to one another during a time of social distancing. Judging by the initial responses we got, we succeeded.
But what happened next was much more than we were expecting. Almost two thousand people signed up for the newsletter. And then, when we asked our audience to crowdfund so that we could keep going, build a website and expand our coverage, you came through with almost $22,000 of support.
Now, we’ve launched that website and filled it with local news coverage. We also retooled our email newsletter products, introducing our new Undercurrent arts and culture newsletter. In November and December, we produced a 7-episode podcast series on the municipal budget process.
One reader told us that because of our work they “feel like a more engaged citizen of Peterborough.” That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
It hasn’t been easy. As early-career journalists and first-time business owners, Ayesha and I are still discerning what gifts we have and how to best deploy them in the service of our community. Peterborough is lucky to have more local media than most cities of its size. But there are still big gaps, and we’re trying our best to fill as many as we can.
Whenever I feel uncertain about our work, I return to a document where we keep the comments we receive from readers.
“You’ve proven your trustworthiness,” wrote one reader to us in December. “You have covered issues thoughtfully, thoroughly and critically. You’ve demonstrated your willingness to ask questions that I haven’t seen from other journalists in Peterborough. Very grateful you exist.”
And then there’s my absolute favourite. One reader told us that because of our work they “feel like a more engaged citizen of Peterborough.” That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Reading through this kind of feedback encourages me.
Over the next three weeks, we aim to achieve 100 new subscribers to sign up as monthly supporters of our work.
But here’s the thing: the future is still very uncertain for Peterborough Currents. We don’t run sponsored content, we don’t run advertisements and we don’t have a paywall. That significantly limits our revenue, which in turn limits how much freedom we have to experiment, learn and grow.
I like to embrace uncertainty. I have to. And so I have faith that Peterborough Currents will grow to be exactly the size that our community needs it to be, with exactly as much financial resources as our community is able to give it.
That’s where you come in. Over the next three weeks, we aim to achieve 100 new subscribers to sign up as monthly supporters of our work. With 100 new supporters, we’ll enter our second year strong, and we’ll have a little more confidence in the size of the community that is behind us, believes in us, and values our work enough to support it financially.
Are you one of those 100 new supporters? Sign up here.
Whether you engage with us through our email newsletters, our podcasts or on our website, thank you for being a part of this journey.
Co-publisher, Peterborough Currents