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COMMENTARY
four years
NonDoc celebrated the conclusion of its fourth full year of operations on Sept. 1, 2019. As always, we offer thanks to our readers, supporters and contributors. We couldn't have done it without you. (Angela Anne Jones)

The start of September means school is fully back in session, football season is upon us and another Labor Day has been celebrated. For the labor of love that is operating an independent journalism publication, this time of year means something else for the team at NonDoc Media: the recognition of an anniversary.

Four years ago on the evening of Aug. 31, 2015, NonDoc’s first pieces went live, with social media announcing our launch the next day on Sept. 1. Since, we have had our ups and our downs, our victories and our hiccups. What might have been the end of our line in December 2018 turned out to be a relaunch with more financial stability — largely thanks to you, our loyal readers.

So as we begin our fifth year this week (in human terms we just had our fourth birthday), our first priority is to make sure you feel our most sincere appreciation. We could not and would not do the oft-stressful work of independent journalism were it not for you, our readers, contributors and community members who seek better access to important information.

Financial support

In 2019, the general public is once again our largest source of funding. During our January and July campaigns for the Writers’ Fund, you answered the call in impressive fashion! For our second-half-of-2019 campaign alone, a generous 87 people contributed $4,920 in one-time donations and $2,155 in newly recurring contributions. Add those totals to the nearly $5,000 in recurring commitments pledged in January, and we are thrilled to announce that you once again helped us meet and exceed our goal.

In total for 2019, more than 280 readers have risen to the occasion and showed their support for local, ethical and independent media. In all, these contributors have supported NonDoc with $20,000, which makes YOU — the news-consuming public — our biggest client and our largest supporter. We thank you from the bottom of our journalistic hearts.

The shoestring

Since NonDoc’s launch four years ago, we have always attempted to stretch our dollars. Even as we have seen our available budget grow this year, we have prioritized thrift while trying to expand our footprint and staffing capacity. This year alone, we doubled what we pay freelance reporters, added another part-time reporter and made infrastructure investments that pay off in ways many readers may never know.

In the coming months, we hope to take even more steps forward toward true sustainability while fleshing out a newsroom that seems to receive an ever-increasing number of good story pitches each month. As the editor in chief of this endeavor, I wish we could cover everything that hits our radar. While we work on trying to expand our coverage even further, please know that we are continuing to track important stories and are also trying to dig deeply into a few other complicated matters.

Thank you all

Lastly, as our fourth full year comes to a close, I personally want to reiterate my gratitude to the team members who have made NonDoc possible and who tolerate my sometimes scattered brain. I can hardly explain how much each of you has helped me grow personally in this endeavor. While stress still balloons on a weekly basis in this industry, I would like to think I am handling it better than I have in the past, and that is thanks in no small part to a great slate of team members over the past year.

To our client relations manager Angela Jones: Thank you for jumping in and tackling our changing advertising model and our critical crowdsourcing campaign at the start of 2019. Thank you for the excellent design work — I mean, check out that fun graphic up top! — and thanks for letting me remove all of your exclamation points. (I threw one into this paragraph just for you.) Also, thank you for tolerating it when I teach your adorable son the word “dingus” and other strange phrases.

To staff reporter Matt Patterson: Thank you for having a helpful attitude about everything I’ve thrown at you in the past eight months. It has been wonderful getting to know you better as a journalist and friend, which I must say is far better than as the guy whose fantasy baseball team defeated mine 14 straight times over five years. (I always say: If you can’t beat ’em, just resign from the league.)

To student editor Ben White: Thank you for having a relentlessly positive attitude. Being thrown into the fire as a first-time reporter writing about political campaigns is not easy, but you did great work. Likewise, your transition toward presenting others’ content on the site has been incredibly helpful, and you have yet to make an accident on camera in any of your video productions. Additionally, I’m pretty sure you have let me win a few late-night games of Magic: The Gathering, which was nice of you.

To student reporter Archiebald Browne: Thank you for your enthusiasm and commitment to mastering the craft of journalism. I am glad that we had the ability to turn your paid summer internship into a paid part-time gig through the remainder of 2019. Keep working hard to become the best journalist you can. I know it will pay off, and the next state-investigated school board you cover will not mistake you for one of its students.

To contributing editor Graham Lee Brewer: Thank you for your work this spring and for pushing me to write with more authority about the things I know are happening in state government. Thank you for working with our contributing authors, and I shall hear your voice in my head every time I cut a superfluous quote from my own work. Keep shaping student minds at the Gaylord College.

To editor emeritus Josh McBee: Thank you for your hard work during the first three-and-a-third years of NonDoc’s run. So much of the groundwork for the site is attributable to you, and I’m more jealous of your exit from social media than you know. Twitter is a nuclear waste dump lined with the bilious souls of otherwise well-meaning people.

To co-owners Ashiq Zaman and Rosemary Meacham-Zittel: Thank you for your financial investments and your guidance as this news publication has grown in the past three years. You both have full-time professional careers of your own, and it means a lot that you would devote a portion of your time to helping make sure I have one.

To all other contributors of content, financial support and story ideas: Thank you for your interest in our responsible public forum for news and commentary. It has been a great four years, and please know that you are an integral part of this effort. We are overdue for a group celebration, but your commitment to our cause is truly appreciated.

May you find the next year’s worth of NonDoc to be as valuable as our first four.