This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The other day, while I was delivering the latest edition at a school, the secretary in the office told me how much they loved the Notebook and looked forward to each edition. All of us involved with producing the Notebook naturally appreciate this kind of feedback. Let me share a few thoughts triggered by that loving response.
EDITED TO ADD: Show the love and party with Notebook members, supporters, and other friends! Today from 4:30-7 p.m. at the University of the Arts.
The Notebook website is Philadelphia’s one-stop place for education news. Besides our own news coverage and opinion pieces, there are links to both local and national stories that are relevant to developments here.
The Notebook combines rigorous professional journalism with advocacy for educational justice. Our leadership and editorial boards seek to incorporate education activists from the varied struggles and constituencies around the city, while our staff of experienced reporters and editors check facts, identify and interview sources, write stories, and put it all together in print six times a year, while adding fresh content on the Web every weekday.
And, most important, the Notebook is independent. As a nonprofit we don’t have stockholders that we have to satisfy. None of our funding comes from the school district or government sources. This means we don’t pull punches. We will pursue stories that the mainstream media is more likely to ignore, and we will not hesitate to speak truth to power when the facts warrant it.
But this independence comes with a price tag. Putting out the Notebook is not cheap. We aggressively pursue advertising dollars, but this pays only one-fifth of the cost of operations. Foundations that support our mission pay a big part of the bill. But this source of funding is also not enough to meet our needs, and varies considerably from year to year.
In short, the love is great, but it won’t pay the bills. We’ve come to the conclusion that the key to sustaining the Notebook is a strong membership base that supports the paper financially. We also see membership as a way of strengthening and institutionalizing the Notebook community through events like our annual June celebration and forums like the one earlier this year with Pedro Noguera.
So if the Notebook is important to you, it’s time to step up. Become a member. Let’s get moving toward that goal of 500 members that will help keep the Notebook alive and well. There are different levels of membership and you can choose the one that fits your pocketbook. If you’re already a member, consider bumping up to a higher level or simply making a donation. Finally be sure to come to the June event – it’s not too late to join the host committee. Show the love.