Adapt or perish: IC’s new strategic vision to sustainability

Adapt or perish: IC’s new strategic vision to sustainability

A message from IC's founding editor
Photo: Calibas on wikimedia (CC)
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John Ahni Schertow
October 21, 2019
 

This is a profound time in our shared history. It is a moment full of rage as well as promise. Fear as well as potential. With each passing day, more battle lines are being drawn to confront every individual, government and corporation that threatens our quality of life. We have many other struggles at home: We have families to feed, bills to pay, traumas that we must overcome. It’s all part of the same story.

Fifteen years ago, I was suffering from severe depression and anxiety. Back then, even the most simplest tasks, like checking the mail, felt like a desperate plea for survival.

Everything changed when I decided to create a website. It wasn’t going to win any design awards; but it held incredible potential. It was unrestrained, fearless and screaming with the hope of a newborn child.

I don’t get those anxiety attacks anymore. I have a loving wife, a beautiful 19-month old child, and a second one that’s set to arrive in the next six weeks. I feel very honoured to be alive.

When my first child was born, I had what you might call a change of heart. I realized that I had this obligation to give my daughter a future where she isn’t shamed for being Mohawk; where she can go to the store without being stalked by store clerks and predators; and even walk under the stars without being attacked.

I can never give this for her. But I can make better choices and I can prepare her (and her sister) to greet every obstacle she encounters with strength and dignity.

When it comes to IC, that means I can no longer just publish stories today and hope for the best, even if they can help trigger big changes.

We also need this work to continue tomorrow and the day after that.

Right now we are running on less than $600 per month. We can’t pay or hire anyone, we can’t grow our audience and we have to constantly turn down pitches because we don’t have the resources.

Once upon a time, I was so determined to keep IC going that I didn’t even care about my personal health. I would eat out of a dumpsters in an instant if it meant I could help an Indigenous nation reach the world. That’s how much I believe in IC! But how can I ask that of my child because I can’t find can’t any major funders who see the potential of this work?

By the time my daughter spoke her first word (it was “happy”), I started looking for ways to get out of the burning forest that is the journalism industry.

I recalled a conversation I had with Les Carpenter a couple years earlier. I remember it well, because it was the weekend I asked my wife to marry me. Les had asked me to create a new radio show for him that covered the Indigenous world.

Unfortunately, Les had already parted from this world so I couldn’t ring him up to tell him that I was going to start working toward a weekly news podcast called, the Indigenous Rights Report.

Things have been slow moving, but I am happy to report that we’ve made good progress. So far, we have a script writer and editor, a narrator, and a crew of professional podcast editors who are willing to volunteer their services. We also doubled our number of monthly donors and we got an offer to have our podcast distributed to over 1000 indigenous communities.

A few weeks after we started publishing the Indigenous Rights Report, we got a game changing invitation from FNX, the first and only indigenous TV broadcaster in the US. FNX asked IC and our fiscal sponsor, The Center for World Indigenous Studies, to produce short video documentaries for their audience.

FNX reaches over 47 million households across the United States.

I hope you’re listening, Les.

The future of IC seemed to come together in an instant. With these two media projects, we can connect with millions of people, invigorate our existing audience, bring in new revenue, hire some staff and expand our investigative work.

There are still a couple things standing in our way. First, we need to come up with a little over $6k to produce Season One of the Indigenous Rights Report podcast. Second, we need to find sponsors for our TV show.

We’re launching a fundraiser next week to take care of the first obstacle.

Finding sponsors will be more challenging, but no one said this was going to be easy—and it’s a far better alternative to shutting down.

Over the past 15 years, IC has outgrown itself ten times over. Our stories have been read more than 3 million times and shared more than 300,000 times on facebook and twitter. We’ve helped to catalyze movements like Idle No More and we’ve carried out hundreds of investigations that other publications wouldn’t even blink at. We’ve published books and magazines, produced documentaries, and designed programs that raise the bar of journalism.

It has been a profound experience so far. And the best part? After all these years, it still feels like we’re only getting started.

Ahni

PS. If you see the value of this work, consider supporting our new fundraiser or send me an email and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

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