On January 27, 2020, The 19th was little more than a promise — the promise of a newsroom that would redefine who was centered in American media, who told our country’s most critical stories and how we support the people doing that work.
Today, our third birthday, no one is more astonished than we are at how far we’ve come, or more clear-eyed about the work still before us.
In the last year alone, we’ve grown at an astronomical pace: from 32 employees to 54, from a news organization that pledged to be the most representative in the nation to one where 65 percent of our staff are people of color, 30 percent are LGBTQ+ and 19 percent are living with disabilities. We’re now on the ground in more than 30 U.S. cities.
We’ve led with our journalism, from our wall-to-wall coverage of the fall of Roe v. Wade; to national polling, midterms and voting rights coverage that centered women and queer people in our democracy; to critical and expertly told stories on the nation’s caregiving crisis, the assault on LGBTQ+ rights in the states, educational disparities for girls of color, and the disproportionate effect of climate change on women and gender minorities. We’ve given all those stories away for free, to our readers and to every other newsroom that wanted to publish them, from the PBS Newshour to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to the Spanish-language newsroom La Esquina.
We convened more than a dozen live events last year, from newsmaker conversations with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, to bigger topical events on everything from reproductive rights to the future of the workforce. We finally convened audiences in person, with live events in Atlanta and Austin, and our third annual 19th Represents Summit, which marked the 50th anniversary of Title IX with attendees in Washington, D.C.
It was a 2021 summit conversation with renowned New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones that sparked our inaugural Frances Ellen Watkins Harper fellowship program. This year, we welcomed five passionate and talented HBCU graduates into our newsroom for yearlong fellowships in news, product and audience development.
With support from you, our audience, we’ve also managed to build a stable and sustainable nonprofit business model, one that offers the kinds of generous benefits and leave policies our staff and our industry deserve. As economic headwinds wreak havoc across much of the media, we’re working around the clock to buffer our staff and our operations.
As we look ahead to our fourth year, we are stepping with intention out of “startup” mode and into sustainability mode. The 19th is here for the long haul thanks to so many of you: a staff devoted to reaching underserved audiences; readers and members who evangelize about our mission, our journalism, our newsletters and our events; and donors and sponsors who believe so deeply in our work and our promise that they support us philanthropically.
The last three years have been the hardest of our lives, from launching a start-up in a pandemic, to a relentless and deeply personal news cycle, to the race to scale our staff, our journalism and our reach. As dizzying as it has been, we get up every day remembering why we do this work: It’s because of you.
Thank you for believing in The 19th. Now, we’ve got work to do.