We introduced The 19th a year ago today with a hypothesis: that women, and in particular women of color, were hungry for a serious politics and policy news platform that elevated their voices and centered their experiences.
On that count, we were right. Twelve months in, we’re grateful for the hundreds of thousands of monthly readers of our website and daily newsletters, a member community that’s nearly 10,000 people strong, the many news organizations across the country that republish our stories, and the more than 200,000 people who have tuned in to our virtual events. We’ve raised $12 million to date, generous philanthropic support that will allow us to nearly double the size of our newsroom in 2021, with investments in critical storytelling on gender and racial disparities in education, caregiving, environmental justice and more.
In short, it’s been an extraordinary year, under unthinkably difficult circumstances. But those same circumstances — from the raging pandemic hitting women and marginalized communities hardest, to the summer of racial unrest that rocked our collective psyches, to the violent siege on the U.S. Capitol, provoked by a president and followers who jeopardized our very democracy — have spurred us to revisit this 19th experiment. To acknowledge the ways that — even in creating a brand new media brand — we’ve repeated some of the same old media mistakes. And to reconsider both the language of our mission and those we seek to serve.
The first change you’ll see this year is that we’ll be identifying The 19th as an “independent” newsroom, not a “nonpartisan” one. That means we’ll continue to cover the ideological sweep of the electorate and everyone who holds power without fear or favor, regardless of party affiliation. But the word “independent” demands greater accountability from The 19th — to use our journalism to defend science, evidence and facts, especially when elected officials and others in power seek to undermine those facts with misinformation and manipulation. This change extends to our live and virtual events, where we’ll be setting a higher bar for speaker participation in 2021 to ensure alignment with The 19th’s stated values and community guidelines. We know not all of our speakers last year met that threshold. Going forward, we will continue to welcome diverse perspectives, healthy disagreements, and the free and informed exchange of ideas — so long as they’re rooted in facts and aimed at promoting a deeper understanding of the issues and each other.
Another change reflects our own greater understanding of gender equity, a core value from this newsroom’s inception. If the last year of 19th journalism has taught us anything, it’s that women aren’t the only ones negatively affected by the power of the patriarchy. Our coverage has documented the LGBTQ+ community’s ongoing fight for representation and equal protections under the law — work that’s been reflected by the asterisk in our logo from day one, but has become even more central to our mission in the last year. That is why we’ve adjusted our mission statement to explicitly embrace our queer readers.
We have learned so much from our followers and supporters — and our incredible, creative and thoughtful staff — in our first year. We never imagined we’d be launching a start-up newsroom in a moment like this one. We’ve shared your fears and despair. We’ve lost loved ones and mustered hope. We know how privileged we are to be building something like this in an era of such uncertainty. We also know we couldn’t have done it without you. We’re profoundly grateful for your readership and your evangelism and your generous support.
Above all, we’re grateful you’re on this journey with us. The 19th is a living, breathing work in progress. You have our word that we’ll continue to grow and listen and learn, and to work every single day to serve you, our audience, even better.
Emily & Amanda
Co-founders, The 19th
PS: Speaking of listening, we’ve just launched our second annual audience survey and we’d love to hear from you. It takes less than 10 minutes, and your feedback is immensely valuable to our team. Go here to get started, and thank you!