From the Publisher/Editor:
I have received lots of feedback recently, readers telling me they love McCall Digest, especially its positive focus on our community. Thank you! But I need your help. Unique in-depth, honest, and informative local journalism relies on advertisers and subscribers/supporters to survive. If you find value in McCall Digest and its mission, please consider showing your support by subscribing or advertising as explained at the end of this article. First, though, let me share with you who I am and why I decided to create McCall Digest because you should know who and what you’re investing in.
Blazing a New Trail: Who’s Behind McCall Digest, and Why?
Dog Nut, Athlete, Recovering Attorney, Bleeding Heart: Born and raised in Seattle, I first visited Idaho as a kayaker on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the mid-80s. A year later, I skied at Brundage and attended Winter Carnival in McCall, and the summer after that, returned to the Middle Fork and added the Lochsa for extra fun. I was stunned by Idaho’s beauty. Two decades later, wanting to escape the noise and fast pace of Seattle, I searched across the West for a place to relocate. Happy memories of my visits to McCall brought me back here and I instantly knew: this is my new home. In 2002 I bought a lot in Meadows Valley, eventually built a home, and with my two dogs, moved in December 2005. Family and friends in Seattle were mystified as I left everything familiar to start fresh in a place where I knew no one. I’ve never regretted the decision. Every season provides unique ways for me and my dogs to enjoy the West Central Mountains. I love it here and will stay for the duration.
Education and Work history: I earned a B.A. in History from the University of Washington in 1980, and a J.D. from Seattle University in 1983. I was admitted to the Washington bar in 1983. Most of my 30-year legal career was spent mostly giving away my expertise on behalf of the best interests of children, taking on the difficult and contentious family law cases most attorneys won’t touch. I was paid by county or state governments to represent children and incapacitated adults at a quarter or a tenth of the rate attorneys of my experience and skill earned. I burned out. I was self-employed, managing my hours to balance the keen emotional demands of the cases, earning enough to get by but without retirement benefits. Soon after moving here, I took a part-time job as Executive Director of Long Valley Families in Crisis (now part of Rose Advocates) because I have a hard time saying no when I see a need I can fill. A year later, I returned to self-employment as a mediator, guardian ad litem and freelance writer. When the recession hit in 2008, I took a job as a prosecutor back in my home state of Washington so that I could keep my house, leaving Idaho temporarily. I published my first book in early 2014 and returned to Idaho full time later that year. I voluntarily resigned from the Washington bar. I worked as Executive Director at MCPAWS from December 2014 through December 2016. In 2017 I began creating McCall Digest, building the website and writing content, and launched it late that year. I love writing, especially profiles of people.
Why I’m Self-Employed, Working from Home: My Disability: I initially chose to relocate to this part of Idaho for the usual reasons: gorgeous terrain, outdoor recreation, four seasons, peace and quiet, and no traffic. Yet my real reason for moving here was subtler: I have a rare neurological disability – spontaneous intracranial hypotension – the result of birth defect called spina bifida occulta with a tethered spinal cord. The condition – which started becoming an issue in 2002 – today causes near-constant positional headaches (worse when upright), tinnitus, light dizziness, with occasional brain fog, neck pain and extreme fatigue. Those chronic physical symptoms have emotional cousins, such as a lack of patience that I struggle to hide when the physical symptoms – which ebb and flow – are bad. Because of my condition, regularly interacting with others in typical work settings is challenging. Pretending I’m okay when I’m not, meeting the schedule demands and interpersonal expectations of others who can’t see my disability while keeping a smile on my face can be exhausting; it’s why I’ve had to leave great jobs (like MCPAWS). The cacophony of everyday life – people, loud noises, even minor irritations – is amplified and often overwhelming. In my case, standard medical treatments failed; midday rest, quiet surroundings, caffeine are the only things that help. After dealing with and hiding my headache condition for 15 years I finally came out of the disability closet earlier this year because I was tired of pretending and justifying my less-than-typical lifestyle choices.
I work best from home, on my own schedule, my dogs beside me. My side gigs of freelance writing and editing, mediations and guardian ad litem appointments allow me the flexibility I need and generate sporadic income but not enough to live on. I created McCall Digest to fill the work/financial gap while accommodating my disability. I’m taking a huge risk, but I’m optimistic that the Digest fills a niche and need for local, thoughtful journalism.
Ideas for Future McCall Digest Features
I have lots of ideas for McCall Digest as it grows and evolves. I have just added a business directory so area businesses and restaurants can reach new customers. I created a new category – Student Voices – and am currently publishing essays written by McCall-Donnelly High School juniors for their Literary Journalism class last spring. I visited their classroom a few times to mentor and encourage these young writers. I want to expand that outreach and create a writing contest for all public and private high school students in Valley/Adams/Idaho counties, including those who are home-schooled. Fiction, non-fiction and poetry categories are planned, with – I hope – cash prizes for the top entrants along with publication of their work in McCall Digest, something they can point to on college applications.
I want McCall Digest to be a place for local writers and photographers, experienced or aspiring, to have their work published which can lead to new opportunities for them. Pitch me some ideas! Someday soon, if all goes according to plan, I’ll even be able to pay contributors. For now, they get exposure.
I plan to offer more articles about local and regional history. I’m considering creating a space to publish pet obituaries. What would you like to see included in McCall Digest? Let me know!
A Strong Sense of Community Means Supporting Each Other So We All Succeed
Just like the other local business owners I’ve highlighted in McCall Digest, I want – and need – to make a living, even while following my writing passion. McCall Digest isn’t a hobby; it is meant to be my livelihood. There’s no financial cushion for me to fall back on. This is where you, dear readers, come in. I’m appealing to you to help me keep this dream alive so we can all benefit.
When you “buy local” to support local businesses like Ruby’s Kitchen, McCall Craftworks or Café 6three4 (just a sampling of new local businesses highlighted in the Digest), you do so by purchasing their product. You’re getting something – an amazing meal or art supplies – for your dollars while providing income to the owners to pay their business and living expenses. In the case of McCall Digest, I want to provide you something for your subscription or advertising dollars: entertainment, local history, introductions to the interesting people who live here, proof you belong to an amazing community, and if a business or organization, customers who see your ad for your product, service or event. It’s that simple, and a great bargain.
In-depth journalism such as the content in McCall Digest takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. So far, I’ve been laser-focused on creating engaging articles, building awareness and a following on social media to drive readers to the website. Now I must turn my attention to marketing and seeking financial support if McCall Digest is to survive. (If anyone wants to help with marketing, please get in touch because I suck at it!)
Advertising and Subscriptions Are What Keep Local Journalism Alive
The online journalism business model depends on advertising and subscriptions to survive. I want McCall Digest to have a local focus, in content as well as advertising. I could do the easy thing and use Google Ads, filling the Digest’s ad spaces with random ads from national companies with no connection to our area, including those annoying video ads we all hate. I don’t want to do that! I also don’t want to create a pay wall, forcing readers to pay a base subscription in order to read articles. I want access to McCall Digest to be free to anyone, but that requires that readers, organizations and businesses who appreciate the positive light the Digest shines on our community participate in a concrete way: by subscribing, providing a supporting financial gift, and/or advertising. Here’s how you can support McCall Digest:
Subscriber: You can choose to sustain McCall Digest with a subscription of any dollar amount you like – weekly, monthly, annually – as a way of supporting local journalism. Think of it like your Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO accounts or your favorite newspaper or magazine subscription; you pay McCall Digest a monthly fee for the entertainment and community news content you value, but in this case, you get to choose the amount.
Supporter: You can also choose to be a McCall Digest supporter with a gift of any amount, made one time or periodically. It all helps keep the Digest afloat.
By subscribing or supporting, you’ll be helping maintain McCall Digest in a direct and substantial way, letting me know that my efforts are appreciated. If everyone who reads McCall Digest, who likes it on Facebook, helps to support it – even just $1 – its future will be much more secure. Visit the SUBSCRIBE tab to choose a subscription or supporter amount that fits your budget via PayPal.
Advertising: Businesses and organizations enjoy a true win-win when advertising in McCall Digest with a colorful digital ad that includes an embedded link taking interested readers directly back to your website or Facebook page with a click of their mouse. Add your logo to the Business Directory page, also with an embedded link. Currently, your ad will reach roughly 2,000 actual readers (based on June 2018 analytics) with excellent month-to-month growth (70.2% of website visitors in June were new to the site). Please visit the ADVERTISE tab to see more detailed reader demographics as well as information about ad sizes and the Digest’s incredibly reasonable rates. Try it! Let me walk you through it if you have questions.
However you choose to support McCall Digest, it only takes a minute and will make a real difference. Thank you. I truly appreciate your support and encouragement.
Publisher/Editor, McCall Digest