June 28, 2022 (Updated )
Today, Journo Resources turns six. I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for weeks. To be organised, to get it crossed off my to-do list early, to give someone else the chance to proof it. Yet, once again, here we are the day before, as I scramble to put my thoughts in some kind of sensible order.
Over the last couple of years I’ve written various birthday messages. Last year I wrote about the pressures of being seen as too big to fail but also too small to fly. The year before we pulled together some new features for the site, as a virtual birthday celebration of sorts. It always feels important to write something, but this year, I’ve struggled to know what to write.
A Year Of Ever Increasing Changes
A lot has changed for us over the last 12 months. Sometimes it’s hard to grapple quite how much. In the last twelve months, we’ve said goodbye to our first ever employee Faima (who’s now smashing it at HuffPost UK) and I’ve moved to working on Journo Resources full-time, something I never would have dreamed possible, even just 18 months ago.
Thanks to the Government Kickstart Scheme, we were joined by some incredibly talented young people for six months. Fern, Tom, Inayia Angel, and Hannah have put together incredible work while they’ve been with us, and I couldn’t be prouder of them and what they’ve gone onto achieve.
delighted to announce that i am now the deputy editor of @journoresources , a non-profit that aims to provide FREE resources for journalists and improve diversity! come say hi and add me in media mailing lists at catharina(at)journoresources(dot)org(dot)uk 🙂
— Catharina C (@catharinacheung) May 30, 2022
In the past year we’ve also welcomed our amazing new membership manager, Vuyokazi and our deputy editor Catharina. It’s fair to say I am in no way over the fact I now start three days by talking to other human beings. It feels such a joy and a privilege to now have a small part-time team of incredible people to share this mission with, and that’s before I even touch on our incredible regular freelancers Karen, Bex and April.
This birthday also feels more changeful in other ways. As we move further and further beyond the lockdowns of the past few years, the speed at which we’ve adapted our work and organisation also feels staggering.
In 2019, I was rushing around the country to hold conferences and events in as many regions as possible, culminating in our #JRLive event at Sheffield Hallam; an event I’m still proud of. Nowadays, we much more reasonably hold everything online, unless there’s a purposeful reason to meet in person.
A lot has happened over the past few years. And the further we go with building our mission, it feels like the pace only speeds up. The stakes seem higher. It reminds me of a phrase my partner often uses about “building the plane while you’re already flying”. I often think about that quote as I look at my to-do list.
Increasing The Stakes, With Even More Hats
Another reason I’ve found it hard to sit down and reflect this year is the increasing number of hats I find myself wearing. I’ll always identify as a journalist first off – it’s the reason this whole site exists – but my day-to-day is now very different.
I know how to run and operate a pension scheme, I do the monthly payroll from my phone. I scour the internet to find the right people to sell job adverts too, I pitch the business endlessly for sponsorships and try to write grant applications before the deadline.
I run workshops. I fail miserably at posting to our Instagram regularly, TikTok even more so. I try to safeguard time to reply to the people who email me asking for advice. The context-switching feels like juggling an increasingly large pile of hats. I didn’t even know there were this many types of hats in the world.
A few weeks ago my partner, who’s been watching me work since they joined my home office at the start of the pandemic, asked me if I was happy when I work. I’ve thought about it a lot since. I passionately believe in what we’re doing – I can’t see myself anywhere else – but it feels like the stakes have become so much higher over the last 12 months.
In terms of reach, we’re the biggest we’ve ever been. Some 200,000 people use our resources every year. We know we’re helping them to build confidence, gain new skills and get jobs. More than 90% of the participants on our 2020/21 fellowship scheme have gone onto paid work within the media. We’ve listed thousands of jobs with salaries for the first time, chipping away at the industry’s transparency problems one ad at a time.
But, the fact is, we’re still a tiny team. I’m the only full-time member of staff. Our team punches well above its weight for what we’re able to put out and do with the resources we have. And that’s where our community comes in. Especially if you’ve read down this far, you’re the people who’ve really made Journo Resources happen.
To the thousands of people who’ve believed in us over the past six years I really can’t thank you enough. Journo Resources really wouldn’t be here without you. To everyone who has read, shared, or asked advice. To the people who send us their rates and salaries for our libraries. To those of you who have trusted us with your donations and badgered bosses to advertise. You are the people who make Journo Resources what it is.
For many different reasons, it feels like the next 12 months are make or break. In a grant application last month, I wrote the words ‘scale-up’ instead of ‘start-up’ for the first time. I’m not quite sure what lies ahead for us, but we’ve got big goals, and the slide is only going to get faster. We’re going to need the support of our community more than ever.
For now, I’m taking a break, and as you’ll read this I’m heading up to Scotland to canoe for a week and entirely switch-off. When I’m back, we’ve got some really exciting announcements about the future of our community, so do make sure to sign-up to our free newsletter to be the first to know. And, if you can, please do consider making a small regular donation on Steady. It’s the best way we have of ensuring regular income to pay our bills and put money back into the community. Donations start from just £4 a month and include some incredible perks – and there’ll be more on that later…
Until next time.