Dear friends of ANIMALS 24-7:
Beth just spent the past hour freezing on our back porch in her nightgown, photographing a raccoon who came looking for cat food. I thought Beth was taking clothing out of the dryer. When I realized where Beth was, about half an hour after she vanished, I took her a coat with a hood, but even that wasn’t much protection for another half hour out in weather that frosted the windshield of our car in the driveway. But the close-up photos were worth it!
Meanwhile, I was catching up on answering readers’ questions, including the question we are most often asked: “How do you get the ideas for your articles?”
Getting ideas for articles is the easy part. Sometimes, as tonight, they just come walking up to the porch.
From the edge
ANIMALS 24-7 reports from the edge of the animal/human relationship, wherever people and animals come into conflict. Examples are everywhere, from the wildlife to whom our yard is habitat, to the animal products and plant-based alternatives we see displayed at the supermarket, what we read in the news, what is shared with us on social media by friends and readers around the world, even in what we overhear at the post office.
Articles especially often develop from your questions: Is this really happening? What is the truth of this? Who is working on this animal issue, how, where?
The hard part
The hard part is doing the research to answer your questions about whatever is actually going on, as opposed to what little mass media and advocacy group mailings say about it. We know you already have the information and perspectives that are easily found online, but usually that is less than half of the whole story, so we seek out the rest, bringing to bear our many decades of experience on animal and environmental news beats, in animal-related law enforcement, and in hands-on animal care and rescue.
Then we work late into the night most nights to put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together for you to read in the morning (or whenever.) If we notice there are still missing pieces, we go back to look for them.
Usually we are researching two or three articles at a time, sending out preliminary inquiries to sources about one topic, while organizing incoming information on another topic (or several), and preparing to publish the article that is closest to completion.
Question almost never asked
A question we are almost never asked, meanwhile, is “How do you keep beans on the table? How do you cover the necessities of life, while making ANIMALS 24-7 available free of charge to everyone who wants and needs it?” Often we wonder that ourselves. Most of our time, resources, and energy goes into investigating and publishing the news for people who care about animals, not on fundraising––quite unlike the typical animal charity, which spends a third or more of its income raising more money.
Our “business model” is just to do our work to keep you informed on behalf of animals, and then pass the hat. This is not the traditional “business model” for either animal charities or journalism, but our goals––to inform people, toward making a better world for both animals and humans––are not traditional business goals. To put up paywalls and charge for our content would be to restrict access for many of the readers who most need us, including seniors on fixed incomes, students and other young people just beginning their working lives, and readers in the developing world.
Because we don’t specifically target the upscale and affluent, or keep everything light and breezy to attract the biggest possible audience, regardless of depth of content, or focus just on purchasers of pet care products, or tailor content to reinforce the promotions of advocacy groups, we don’t attract many advertisers, either, and never will. We are deeply appreciative of those who do advertise with us, who understand and appreciate our unique and difficult mission, but we know they will always be too few to fully sustain our work.
That leaves us surviving much like coffeehouse musicians, the best of whom have also spent lifetimes perfecting their skills, but perform in genres––jazz, the blues, classics, folk––that seldom pack concert halls, let alone stadiums. But we don’t even collect a cover charge. We just pass the hat & hope.
Help us keep on keeping on!
Times have been very tough these past few years. Supposedly the U.S. economy is thriving, and perhaps it is for the 1%, but the demands on people who care about others, especially animals, have been severe. We have been working literally at minimum wage since 2016, and lately have only been able to pay ourselves that much a month late.
We’re not going to quit. We know you and many others are reading as avidly as ever, asking us to investigate and report about more animal topics than ever before. Beth is going to keep on freezing to photograph raccoons for you, and to do whatever else she can to attractively and entertainingly illustrate our news coverage.
We ask only that you put what you can in the hat when we pass it: $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 or more, to help us keep on keeping on.
P.S. –– Whether it is $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 or more, your gift in the hat will be warmly received and every cent of it will be stretched to good use!