Letter From the Editor: What We've Achieved (And Where We've Failed) in Our First Year

Reader support has translated into hundreds of stories about local issues, many of which would otherwise have gone uncovered.

Dear Reader:

We’re so thrilled to be celebrating our first birthday with you.

Since we launched on Sept. 1, 2021, your support has translated into hundreds of stories about local issues, many of which would otherwise have gone uncovered.

We began with humble coffers and the lofty goal to get people back in the habit of paying for local news. Today, we remain largely solvent thanks to this business model, your generosity. For folks who signed up early on with an annual subscription, I will be sending you a version of this letter with the hope you will continue your support in our second year.

As we celebrate our anniversary, I want to highlight some of our accomplishments, as well as remark on some of our challenges. Since our launch, we have:

We have also been committed to financial transparency, and our thirdly financial report, which runs through the end of August, should be published next week at the bottom of this page. Transparency means not only highlighting our achievements, but also acknowledging where we have fallen short.

We are grateful to each and every one of our more than 250 paying subscribers. But we did not meet our goal of 400 paying subscribers within our first 12 months. That benchmark was not entirely random, but based on a rate that a handful of other local media sites across the country had seen early in their operations, standardized to a population of 100,000, roughly the size of Roanoke. From a business perspective, this means we must continue to reach people in order to be sustainable.

Recently, we embarked on a social media campaign that will introduce 1,000 new readers to our free trial over the next several months. Our hope is that a fraction of those folks will become committed Rambler readers and help inch us closer to our initial subscriber goal.

I also want to provide an update on our last editor’s letter, which marked our first six months. We announced a fundraising campaign for an investigative reporter to cover “power” — those with the most and least political and economic power — in the community. While we are definitely still accepting money (hey, we have a PayPal now) for that role, which we think is critical, we have had to put those fundraising efforts on the back burner as our time has been consumed with the editorial side of the enterprise — in other words, making sure we’re bringing you the best local journalism each week.

We anticipate sharing more exciting news in the near future. In the meantime, we look forward to publishing more investigative, local news and original literature in the year ahead. We truly cannot do it without your support. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Henri Gendreau

The Roanoke Rambler
Local | Investigative | Literary

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