Why subscribe to Charlottesville Community Engagement?

Do you want to know more about how things work in the area in and around Charlottesville? I certainly do. That’s why I created this newsletter and podcast in July 2020, and why there are now hundreds of subscribers with about a quarter of the audience helping support the work financially.

Since the first episode, I have produced over 430 newsletters and podcasts that capture as much as I can about local and regional government. I’ve followed many stories on a beat that covers Charlottesville, Albemarle County, the University of Virginia and keeps an eye on what’s happening in Richmond. Reading or listening to the work will keep you better informed on public policy choices that come before elected officials.

Before we proceed, a note about payment. I am aware that in these times, it’s hard to justify funding another content producer. If you sign up for free, I will never to beg for money or introduce a false scarcity in order to frighten you into paying. I am confident that there are people who will help cover the cost of this service for everyone.

I can say it plainly, though. If you sign up for a paid subscription through Substack, you will help this newsletter and podcast grow. Your financial support will fuel my ability to pay attention to as much as many items as I can about what’s happening and to report on as much as possible. It is my hope within a year I will be able to begin hiring people to assist me.

For two years, the support of nearly 500 Substack subscribers has helped keep me working as a journalist who has served this community for 20 years.

Your $5 a month subscription, $50 a year subscription, or the $200 “founding member” tier helps me keep planning for future installments of the Charlottesville Community Engagement newsletter and podcast. You’re helping me keep a close eye on what elected and appointed officials are up to.

If you sign up for free, there is additional content that only paid subscribers can access. This often takes the form of getting to read a longer story first, or other added extras. The vast majority of content, though, will never be behind a paywall. That’s because the one in four people who make a paid subscription cover the cost to make sure I can provide this information to anyone.

If you subscribe, you’ll also get access to other content I will produce in the weeks to come. These will be longer stories, podcasts, and more. But to make sure you get all of that, sign up! The daily newsletter will remain free as a public service, but I know some of you want more information. I’m here to provide it!

A very unphotogenic studio shot…

Why back to journalism?

I had taken a break from journalism in the summer of 2018, but from the moment I did, I knew something was missing from my life.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, I created a regular podcast called the Charlottesville Quarantine Report. I quickly realized I had a passion to get back to doing daily content. Our community is complex, and there’s no way I can cover it all. But I have set up a system that allows me to capture a lot, and now I’m becoming more efficient in how I deliver information.

America needs needs more stories about itself, and for me that means an interest in the nuts and bolts of policy. I find that many people don’t understand how the systems work. In order to be able to explain what I know, I need to continue research. I do not have the answers, but I’ve dedicated much of my life to asking questions.

You won’t have to worry about missing anything. Every new edition of the newsletter goes directly to your inbox.

Some notes on sponsorship

And now, a word about the “shout-outs” you will see in the body of each newsletter and in the podcast. The move to a new ecosystem for journalism will take experimentation in funding and I also raise funding for my research through Patreon. Soon after I decided to go independent again, I formed Town Crier Productions to help me take care of business.

Most of the public service announcements you hear on the show are for noncommercial activities. As part of that effort, some of the contributors get a “shout-out” which follows an informal noncommercial policy.

There is one main commercial sponsor: Ting! This is their explanation of why they approached me with this initiative:

"We believe news is essential to good citizenship. We believe local issues and events have the greatest impact on local lives but too often get overshadowed by stories that are more global or more entertaining. We believe the need to generate advertising revenue can compromise the content and the experience. We believe people understandably tend to balk at paid subscriptions. We want Charlottesville Community Engagement to keep doing what it does, without pressure to monetize, economize or entertain. So we are simply matching every reader subscription or renewal without influence or agenda other than a small Ting logo at the top of this page and Charlottesville love from the bottoms of our hearts."

A year and a half later and I’m grateful for their support.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, I will be experimenting with new kinds of sponsorships but I pledge these will be in the same spirit of the shout-outs. I’m not doing this work to sell Borax.

To find out more about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com. Substack is pretty cool.

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Information and context about how and why things get built in Central Virginia, a service of Town Crier Productions


Award-winning journalist with nearly 30 years of experience covering central Virginia