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Our community saved SPIN during COVID-19. Here’s what we did with your support

Our readers planted the seeds for sustainable local news in Sun Peaks, and we want you to be part of it
 | September 16, 2020
Aerial view of Sun Peaks resort: Support Sun Peaks Independent News
Photo Kyle James

As the seasons shift, I can’t help but look back on the last six months in awe. Despite the hard moments, it’s been incredible to see our resort community rise to the challenge of providing safe and much needed getaways for regional visitors over the summer. Whether you are a resident, parent, worker, or business owner, we’ve all had to make difficult decisions and sacrifices. I commend everyone for doing their part to keep our little village going.

Like everyone else, we’ve made some significant changes to our operations at SPIN, including shifting to a digital-only format, closing our office space and experimenting with new revenue streams. While we’ve struggled due to the effects of the pandemic, like many of you, we’ve been able to make it through with the help of our neighbours.

Thanks to community members who rallied around us, SPIN not only survived the first wave of COVID-19, but found an opportunity to deepen our journalism and plant the seeds for a more sustainable local news model. After we asked our readers to help, 165 people stepped up and contributed $29,000, enough to keep us publishing when our community needed us most.

We were so heartened by the response — it showed us that there was a future for SPIN even while local businesses that have long supported our work with advertising were just beginning their recovery. This week we took a big step toward that sustainable future by launching a monthly membership business model and offering our readers a new way to contribute to our journalism. We would be honoured to have you become part of our story by making a monthly contribution.

But before I ask our community for more money, I want to share what that crucial funding in March enabled us to do for Sun Peaks, and what our plan is to stay strong as we enter recovery and a likely second wave of COVID-19 in B.C.

  • Crucial COVID local coverage: We’ve published dozens of stories containing important community health insight and context, and have provided over 55,000 readers with valuable community information, made possible by their support.
  • Deeper coverage of topics that matter: We invested your funds into an investigative series regarding Sun Peaks’ ongoing challenges with its water supply, and what the future looks like for the community going forward.
  • We’ve been working to stretch your membership dollars as far as possible by hustling to supplement them with grant dollars. SPIN was awarded approximately $13,000 from the Facebook Journalism Fund and the Google News Initiative. We’ve also welcomed two new reporters to the team, using funding from the Local Journalism Initiative and Canada Summer Jobs grants, who are focusing on tourism in the Thompson Okanagan and outdoor culture in the local region.

As I wrote in March, I hoped there would be a benefit to our emergency pivot from print, advertising to digital, reader-supported: that our journalism would be even better. That was born out. By being supported directly by our readers, we are directly accountable to you. We can focus on providing the in-depth journalism our community needs and delivering that digitally, when you need it, rather than only focusing our resources on a monthly print newspaper.

Something that hasn’t changed since March? We can’t do this without you. We at SPIN are honoured to provide what we consider an essential community service. We hope you agree and value the part we play in this community. Your support means we will be here to hold leadership to account, to watch out for our most vulnerable residents, and to connect the community through the power of storytelling as we navigate challenges together. Become a member today.

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