We’re Onto a Good Thing. We Just Need Your Help to Keep It Going.
The good news is The Border Chronicle is nine months old. The bad news is that we run out of funding in three months. Welcome to journalism.
Dear reader, it’s been nine months since we started The Border Chronicle with funding from Substack’s local reporting initiative.
In September our funding ends.
In the last two decades, local newsrooms have been decimated. Nowhere is the situation more dire than along the U.S.-Mexico border, where local newspapers have closed and regional publications have drastically reduced their coverage.
For many years, Todd and I had kicked around the idea of creating a publication in which people who care deeply about border issues can share ideas and learn from one another. A place where we could help build cross-border solidarity and more resilient border communities.
The Border Chronicle can be that space, but we need your help.
The Cold, Hard Facts
We understood from the start that becoming sustainable would be difficult. Currently, we have 2,101 subscribers and 282 paid subscribers. At $6 a month, or a $60 annual subscription, that’s about $19,000 in annual revenue, which is far from what we need to become sustainable.
As freelance journalists, we figure we need at least 2,000 paid subscriptions to become sustainable and make this our full-time job. That would be about $120,000 annually in revenue. From that we also need to pay our audio editor, Brenda Maytorena Lara, and print editor Pablo Morales, both of whom we really need! In addition, Substack—the platform our newsletter currently lives on—charges a 10 percent commission, and Stripe, the app that processes our subscription payments, takes another 3 percent. And then there’s federal and state taxes, health insurance, and so it goes …
In the last nine months we’ve learned a lot. On top of reporting and writing, fundraising and administering a publication is tough work. It takes a lot of time and resources. Especially if you’re ambitious or crazy enough, like us, to cover the entire 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
So, How’s That Going, Anyway?
Without fail, Melissa has published every Tuesday and Todd every Thursday since September 2021. The Border Chronicle has published more than 60 articles, covering everything from climate displacement and migration to asylum seekers being forced by Border Patrol to abandon vital documents, like birth certificates and passports, on the U.S. side of the border wall—documents that are crucial to filing a successful asylum claim.
We’ve also launched a Border Chronicle podcast, where we’ve interviewed fascinating fronterizos from a former Border Patrol agent turned immigrant rights activist in San Diego, California, to an indigenous water protector from the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona.
We’re also very excited about the potential of our discussion threads, which we’ve been doing monthly on The Border Chronicle’s Substack platform, because we see this as a venue where we can share ideas with readers and learn from invited experts. Eventually, we’d love to host and moderate these discussions in person in various communities if we can figure out a way to fund them.
By the way, on Thursday, June 16, Todd will moderate a discussion thread with invited experts (to be announced soon) who will discuss the similarities and differences between Europe and the United States when it comes to migration, security and border issues. Become a paid subscriber to join the discussion!
What Can You Do to Help?
A big abrazo for everyone who has subscribed and supported us. We appreciate your faith in The Border Chronicle. As September and our funding end date approaches, we are working on various ideas to become sustainable, from running ads to offering institutional subscriptions. We also may need to increase our monthly subscription rate. And we’re going to place more of our content behind a paywall, which we don’t want to do, but at this point we have little choice.
If you have ideas, knowledge you’d like to share with us to help us reach our goal of sustainability, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And most important, if you value our work and read The Border Chronicle, please consider becoming a paid subscriber. And for $125, we offer a founding member subscription, which includes four additional subscriptions for friends and family. (Just send us the emails and we’ll subscribe them!)
If you’re already a free subscriber and unsure of how to convert to paid, just click on this link.
Spread the word about The Border Chronicle! Share it with your friends!
Onward to the Next Chapter
We’re committed to continuing The Border Chronicle for another year. We’re excited about the possibilities and what we’ve been able to build. And we’re thankful to Substack for having chosen us, along with a dozen other writers from around the globe, for the local reporting initiative so that we could make this publication a reality.
If you’re a small publication like us, feel free to republish our work if you credit and link back to us. And if you’d like us to speak to your group on border topics, we’d be happy to do it. Between the two of us, we’ve got 40 years under our belt of reporting on the U.S.-Mexico border for various publications, from In These Times to The New York Times. We look forward to continuing the conversation and covering the region we call home.
Un abrazo desde Tucson,
Melissa & Todd