Dear readers,

The third wave of the pandemic has been painful: 22 people in Nova Scotia have died, with 22 different sets of family, friends, and loved ones left to grieve. Thousands more have fallen ill, too many landing in hospital and the ICU. All of us have suffered with worry and dread, and faced the challenges and disappointments of lockdown.

But, collectively, we’ve risen to the occasion. People have mostly followed the public health directives and restrictions, are getting vaccinated at the first opportunity, and importantly, are helping each other out when they can. As a result, case numbers are way down, vaccination numbers are way up, restrictions are loosening, and the path out of this seems clear; not too long from now we’ll be able to say, “we’ve done it.”

The Examiner has been part of that effort, I think. We continued to do all the stuff we normally do — the City Hall coverage, the investigations into gold mining and forestry, following along at Province House, the library saga, jail, and… well, everything. But we additionally dove into covering the pandemic and this now-waning third wave. And that wasn’t just me — sure, I covered the day-to-day and the briefings, but Yvette d’Entremont continues to do broader COVID reporting, Jennifer Henderson and Linda Pannozzo contribute articles about the impact on nursing homes and the science of the virus, and the whole team collaborates on our Slack channel to discuss and inform each other.

It’s important work, and I hope you’ve valued it. But I’m beyond tired. So I’m taking the weekend off. I’ll turn off the computer. Power down the phone. Ignore email and texts and Twitter and Facebook. What will I do? I don’t know. It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten how to not work. Maybe I’ll toddle around the garden, or go for a hike, or sit on a patio and people watch, or who knows, read a novel. Probably I’ll sleep a ton.

I’m realizing that I can take a weekend off — the Examiner is in capable hands, Suzanne Rent will cover the daily case numbers Saturday and Sunday, and Iris can put out any fires that may arise, while the rest of the team continues to do their amazing work.

But I’m taking the weekend as a breather before diving right back into our next big project. Let me explain.

Over the past year, readers have increased their financial support for the Examiner, so much so that I feel it’s important to provide the same kind of transparency that we ask of government. I want you to see what we do with your money.

Last month — incredibly — we saw a 8% rise in subscribers, and we now have just over 3,500 subscribers. To give that even deeper context, at the beginning of 2020, we had about 1,500 subscribers. The growth has been tremendous, and we’ve put that new subscription money mostly into more reporting. Right now, we spend about $25,000/month on payroll and freelancers. The rest of the budget goes to our legal costs (the Examiner has spent $22,699 on legal costs just on the mass murder investigation, and that’s before the reporting costs), insurance, and accounting. That doesn’t leave much left to keep the lights on and the server humming.

We’ve recently become part of the GNI Startup Labs project. This is bringing us a one-time grant of $35,000. Part of that money is used to hire Suzanne on a term editing contract, some is being used to clean up our business processes.

But the balance of the GNI grant will go into our next big project: an in-depth investigation and analysis of the local housing market. The increase in rents is, in my estimation, one of the most important impacts on our community right now, and the situation will only get worse as the COVID emergency rent control measures (such as they are) are lifted. It requires the Examiner’s full attention.

We’re going to do this housing reporting project a little differently. We’ll first speak with and listen to readers, to find out what particular issues you find important, what angles you’d like explored, and ask you how to tell what is after all a community story. Suzanne will take the lead on that reader engagement. Once we understand what it is you’re looking for from the Examiner, we will focus much of our reporting team to work on it (while of course continuing to do everything else we do).

The goal of the housing project is two-fold. Most important — and this is always most important for the Examiner — we want to do some great reporting that makes a difference in the world.

But additionally, through the housing project, we want to strengthen the Examiner as an organization. That means a lot of things. We want this kind of project to become reflexive — we’ll move from COVID to housing to the next project and then the next. We want to be your go-to place for news that matters to you. And, we want to be able to do this without burning Tim out or overtaxing anyone else.

To that end, we have goals. Through the length of the housing project, we want to increase our subscriber base from the current 3,500 to 4,000 by September 1. That’s an ambitious goal, even by the standard of our recent extraordinary success, but I hope that readers who aren’t now subscribers will value the housing project and the rest of the Examiner’s work enough to support it financially.

If we can reach that goal of 4,000 subscribers, my personal pay will increase to $44,000 annually from the Examiner. (Last year, I was also paid by the CBC for the Uncover podcast, and I received a small inheritance.) I am currently the lowest paid employee at the Examiner (freelance contributors get paid less), and I’ve been good with that — my goal all along has been to grow the organization. But it’s time to put my pay on the path towards the average reporter’s pay in Halifax, and for me to start planning for retirement many years down the road.

An increase to 4,000 subscribers will additionally result in pay raises for the rest of the Examiner team, employees and freelancers alike, and importantly, increase the reporting output.

I’m telling you all this because I want you to value the Examiner as your reliable and trusted news source. We work on a shoestring budget, but our output is outsized, producing reporting that no other media outlet wants to pursue or can match. I hope that as readers look under the hood of the Halifax Examiner, they are impressed and will support us financially.

Thank you for that support. You can subscribe here.

All the best,

Tim Bousquet
Editor and Publisher
Halifax Examiner

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Hope you enjoy a peaceful and relaxing week-end. Thank you and all the great people at The Halifax Examiner for all your hard work to delve into and explain the important issues. If I wasn’t on a fixed income I’d up my subscription but I will do all I can to find new subscribers to help meet the 4000 mark. Again, many thanks. Peace, Love & Solidarity.

  2. Near the beginning of my subscription to the Examiner, I read every word. Mostly because I could read every word. Morning file each day and a story or two per week. Now the volume of quality stories is too much for me to keep up with. I love it.
    Trust in media organizations that typically rank high for trust (New York Times, etc.) didn’t resonate with me until I started reading the Examiner. I know they will be thoughtful with important issues and dedicate effort to exposing me to new ones. The Examiner has become an important part of Nova Scotia; something enviable for other parts of the country. That why I have maintained my subscription since moving ‘away’.
    Keep me informed until I return!

  3. Whenever I can I push the Halifax Examiner model here in Kitchener-Waterloo. The one year my wife and I spent in Halifax (2015-16) was a delight, not the least of it being discovering the Halifax Examiner, to which I subscribe with pleasure.

  4. I’ve subscribed for several years now. The coverage significant NS issues by all journalists has been excellent. The housing shortage is a most worthy topic that governments tend to avoid, especially when in cost-cutting mode and planning an election.

    Who needs the Chronicle Herald anymore?

    Happy birthday to the Halifax Examiner and many more to come.

  5. An annual subscription is worth every penny.
    Tim, you and your crew are fantastic and very good at what you do.
    I am a CPA and run a small accounting practice, if you are intersted let me know and I will provide whatever services I can for my best family and friends rate.
    Keep up the good work and thank you for doing what you do.

  6. Tim, you and the others have done a wonderful job. I frequently tell media types here in Toronto that the Halifax Examiner and Cape Breton Spectator are the way to the future, and it’s a very good way. I’m proud to be one of the Examiner’s original subscribers.

  7. Wouldn’t it be awesome if a pro-bono lawyer popped up to help with some of the social issue story legalities? Or is there something unethical about a journalist not paying a lawyer lots of money?

    1. I’m quite happy with our lawyer. We employed him for the mass murder issue, which involves specific court issues that not many lawyers are conversant in. Most of the other legal work he does for us is covered by our insurance policy.

  8. The housing situation in Halifax is such a worthy topic….good for you to dig up the bone on this one. I’m sure you guys/gals will do a bang-up job!

  9. Enjoy a well earned weekend. Truth in advertising. It’s the Hfx Examiner, not the NS Examiner. Two big province-wide stores in one year is not typical. The Examiner was new to me last year, and I subscribed a month or two after following you on Twitter.

    I live in rural NS. Will I continue to subscribe? Probably yes but I have pondered what happens post Covid & post Portapique review. Since these seem far in the future, it is an easily delayed decision.

    1. This is a perplexing comment, Robert … the Examiner has delved deep into many provincial stories (even international ones looking at John RIsley’s South African adventure, Paper Excellence in France, COVID in Africa). A search of the the Examiner website shows countless investigative pieces that cover all kinds of provincial stories … on the travesty of Boat Harbour, Northern Pulp /Paper Excellence, provincial forestry issues, provincial fisheries issues including open-pen salmon farming, provincial energy issues, the LaFarge cement plant, far-right German-speakers in Cape Breton, gold-mining on the Eastern Shore, pollution from historic gold mine tailings all over the province, the proposed Canso spaceport, Pieridae’s proposed LNG plant in Goldboro on the Eastern Shore, the controversial dam on the Avon River in Windsor … and so on. Please have a look. I think you’ll find it examines important issues all over Nova Scotia.

      1. Just reopened the story after thinking about my response. Realized there are more NS rural articles than I first thought. I’ve read all of some, some of many. I don’t have to list them as you looked after it for me.

        The long reads often exceed my interest. My fault not the Examiner’s.

        Replying by comment rather than tweet was my way to limit the read to subscribers. Covid & Portapique were stories of immediate interest. I still think it will be interesting a year or three down the road re the subscriber mix. @robrt_mcmillan

      2. Adding to that list, the Examiner also publishes many stories about immigration policies, policing at all levels, climate change, prison (in)justices, labour (in)justices, and the list goes on and on …. and of course, Stephen Kimber’s weekly columns are nearly always about provincial (and sometimes national) issues.

  10. Thanks for the candor! The coverage is excellent and deep. I have awareness and understanding of topics and issues that I doubt that I would have otherwise. The earnest and quality work is a valuable public service. I am certainly a promotor. Best of luck reaching the next subscriber milestone!

  11. Yes! A focus on the issue that is going to become even more relevant to all of us who rent as things change again in what is, in reality, only a few months. I can’t wait to see what Tim and the rest of the staff can do for this issue.

    I know that sometime after the state of emergency is lifted I am likely to be handed a renoviction letter as my building’s new owners plan to massively upgrade things – and then price my unit way out of my reach, even if I were to, somehow, after eight years out of the job market find employment that paid me a living wage.

    I am a subscriber and will spread the word among my contacts who aren’t that this issue will soon be covered in hopes that a few will also become subscribers as I think Tim deserves his pay raise, as do the others who work on The Halifax Examiner.

  12. The legal costs are shocking. Speaking as someone who was wronged by a past employer, but never sued because the legal costs were more than what I was owed and if I lost…, this is a huge problem.