A few weeks ago, I posted a comment in our private Facebook Newsroom group informing the PINAC team that I will may be quitting soon because the site is not just financially sustainable.
The group, consisting of about 100 members, mostly volunteers, a few paid writers and investigators, were not happy with the announcement and stated they would do what they could to keep it afloat.
I stated that I would think about it, but I was contemplating calling it quits on February 20, which was the nine-year anniversary of getting my head bashed into the pavement by Miami police for photographing them in public, which is what led to the launch of Photography is Not a Crime two months later.
February 20 came and went and I’m still here, but I’m still contemplating either quitting or scaling back the time I dedicate to this site in order to focus on other endeavors that would enable me to pay my bills.
The only reasons I have not quit is because the PINAC team, which consists of some of the mostly talented individuals I know, truly believe we can make this site sustainable as well as the fact that there are still numerous stories that remain untold.
These are stories where I’ve done the research and the interviews but it’s just a matter of writing them, which is easier said than done considering there is always a breaking story to either write or edit.
But as we approach the end of the month and I find myself struggling to pay my bills, I will once again tell myself, it is time for a change.
The truth is, as hideous as the ads on this site are – and I hate them more than you do – they do not bring in enough money to sustain the site. It costs $357-a-month just to host the site.
And unless we pay Facebook to promote our site, Facebook will ensure that our readership will not grow. That’s their business model and it makes complete sense from their end.
However, it puts us in a Catch 22 where we need to pay them in order to increase our readership, which would increase ad revenue, and allow ourselves to be paid.
But unless we increase readership and ad revenue, we are unable to pay them.
So we need donations. A simple $5-a-month reoccurring donation from five percent of our readers will solve all our problems.
But I’ve learned over the years that the mere mention of donations brings out the worst in readers, who then inform us we are not worthy of any donations and accuse us of running a scam.
Many readers are apparently under the impression that we just press a button and the stories get magically published without any effort from our part, which could not be further from the truth. We work day and night to ensure we produce the most accurate, in-depth and well-written stories.
I’ve also been accused of running a “cash cow,” which would be great if it were true because that would allow us to hire more writers and editors and perhaps allow me to take the occasional break.
The truth is, PINAC has been a money pit for me over the last few years because I’ve put everything I have into this site, not to mention quitting other jobs in order to allow myself to put all my time into the site.
And I did so with the hope that it would eventually pay off where I can maintain the site and make a comfortable living without having to stress about money.
But it’s not happening and I really don’t see it happening unless we start seeing an increase in donations.
And I really don’t see that happening. The internet has spoiled people where they have become accustomed to getting content for free.
So I’ve accepted the reality of the situation and I’m prepared to move on. I know we are not alone in this situation and it’s just a sign of the times.
No matter what I decide, I will soon be taking a break to think things through, something I have not done in the nine years since running the site because even when I am not publishing, I am usually doing something related to the site.
Besides, when I first launched this site, I did so to raise awareness about our right to record and the importance of police accountability.
Back in 2007, the mainstream media was not covering this issue and there were not all these other sites covering police abuse.
So in that regard, the mission has been accomplished because the issue is now getting covered by not only the mainstream media but there are now a plethora of new sites that are dedicated to this issue.
However, I still think we do it better than the rest, but I am biased.
Anyway, I’m putting this out there and I’m prepared for the usual insults and snide remarks and questions, which I will be happy to answer.
A couple of things: If you are going to accuse us of “moving to far to the left” as a reason for not being financially sustainable, I will like to point out that if we were truly partisan, it would be much easier to raise revenue through donations because people love to fund sites that support their ideologies.
PINAC has always been non-partisan and our team consists of all political viewpoints. We place police accountability over political ideology.
Also, if you are going to say that I’m just not nice enough to our readers, citing some example where I’ve cursed you out in the past during some flamewar, you probably have a point. I have a short temper and don’t mince words.
But if you believe that is the reason PINAC is not financially sustainable, I will say my temperament and passion and biting honesty is what drove PINAC during the last nine years.
Also, if you truly knew me, you would note my sense of humor above anything else, which I used in editing the video below to raise awareness of our situation.
So if you would like to make a donation, the link is here.
I believe PINAC is worth saving but even if we don’t save it, I will not be left with any resentful feelings because the market will have spoken.
No matter what happens, I will always be proud of the work we have done here. And I will always be grateful to the readers who have contributed to that success over the years because without you guys, PINAC would have never evolved.