Changes Coming and a Request For Support

Knoxville Skyline, October 2016
Knoxville Skyline, December 2016

In the 10 years I’ve written this blog, I’ve been so honored to have the opportunity to share my love for the city. The biggest rewards have come in the expressions of kindness and encouragement I’ve gotten from so many of you. Delighted at first to have readers, I came to realize it is the friendships and relationships I’ve gained through this enterprise that are, truly, the best gift of all.

I worked for the first three years with little to no income from the blog, losing money as I bought cameras, computers, software and began paying for server space. In 2013 I was fortunate enough to gain advertisers and begin making a small amount of money. In 2014, I left my former career and began writing full time. My audience grew and advertisers continued to request space even as my prices rose. The income justified the time spent on the work.

I always understood that an event or series of events could change the game and threaten to destroy the blog. I imagined competitors making a fancier website or people simply loosing interest in the topics I cover. I never imagined a pandemic would be the culprit that presented an existential threat.

This has been a crazy, unthinkable year for many of us. Some of us lost jobs, lost hours and income or were forced to completely change the way we did our work. Some of us became ill and a few locally have lost loved ones. There are a number of businesses we immediately think of when we imagine the economic damage from the virus: restaurants, brick and mortar retail shops, hotels, bars, theaters and performing artists, to name a few.

Knoxville Skyline

The impact on media may not be on your radar. For advertising based media, however, the era has produced serious challenges. Think about the categories listed above and then think of the advertisers you’ve seen on this blog. Remember when Knoxville Opera and Clarence Brown Theatre had actual seasons and advertised their productions here? The same was true of shops, bars hotels and festivals. Now they are largely gone.

When I wrote my first article about COVID-19, “Everything Has Changed and the Changes Have Just Begun,” on March 16, the U.S. had experienced about 60 deaths and it looked to be a rough few weeks ahead. I remember filling my car up with gas “before it gets bad,” and thinking the tank should get me through to the other side. Nearly six months and about 185,000 deaths later, that thinking seems so quaint. We had no idea how massive this event would become.

After that first article, I started writing two articles a day, effectively doubling my work load. Readership also doubled. Unfortunately, revenue moved in the other direction, nearly disappearing. I assumed I would write a couple of articles a day for a few weeks and then we’d return to normal, advertisers coming back as we went. After nearly six months, the end is not at hand for the pandemic or the business disruptions.

So, I’m going to make a couple of changes and see how that goes for a while.

First, I have to admit that I can’t keep up the level of production I’ve maintained since March. Writing two articles a day is extremely hard and the afternoon report has gotten increasingly lengthy and detailed. Maybe so detailed it has lost its effectiveness. With the recent focus on data from the University of Tennessee and Knox County Schools, two new fronts have been opened in the battle to share good information.

Knoxville Skyline, February 2018

On a personal note, we’ve been joined by Urban Girl and Urban Boy and are now teaching a sixth grader and a Kindergarten student in our home. They are a delight. That said, it’s a challenge having children in the home, trying to help them learn, and writing two articles a day with them scurrying about.

For now, I will continue writing two articles most days, but the afternoon report will be shorter. I’ll write the regular article you’ve come to expect on Mondays only, including national and international information. I’ll concentrate on state and local information, including UTK and Knox County Schools, the other afternoons. It still may be too much, but I’ll give it a try. I’ll still continue to bring you the news about downtown that brought most of you here in the first place.

Second, at the urging of a number of supporters, I’ve added a “donate” button. I’ve never asked anything of my readers beyond the simple act of reading, but the time has come to say, if you value what I do, I’d appreciate your support. For those of you who found the button on your own and made the first donations, I really appreciate that.

For the rest of you, you’ll find a donate button on the navigation bar, at the top of the sidebar if you are using a PC, and after the articles if you are reading on a phone. Please give only if you are financially comfortable doing so and you value the work I do or feel it is important to the city. You can make donations with credit cards or with Paypal, single donation or recurring. Whether a small one-time amount or a recurring large donation, it’s all appreciated.

And, of course, if you have a business you’d like to get in front of a bunch of eyes, we can get your ad posted in short order!

Thank you for joining me on this crazy journey.

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