During the last few weeks, I’ve asked what you expect from me at a time like this. And you’ve responded.

When I say a time like “this,” here’s what I mean:

āœ“ Journalism as we know it is dead. The media outlets that used to pay a living wage have slashed their budgets, including my pay. Some have closed their doors to contributors or shut down altogether, leaving reporters voiceless. Yes, you can always find a corporate sponsor willing to throw money at you, but consumer advocates make terrible brand evangelists.

āœ“ The advertising model is also broken. Not so long ago, you could run banner ads on your site, and if you got enough traffic, you could at least cover your IT bills. But that, too, has evaporated as companies moved away from traditional online advertising and waded into the dark waters of “native” advertising. The only one getting rich now seems to be Google, a company that doesn’t exactly have a great track record for helping consumers.

āœ“ Meanwhile, the very corporations I cover are engaging expensive reputation management companies, who use SEO trickery and denial of service attacks to bury my consumer advocacy site in the search engine rankings. Make no mistake, these sophisticated players want to delete the highly useful content on my site, such as the executive contacts.

Against that unfortunate and challenging backdrop, I started my winter fundraiser in December. I asked you what you wanted me to do and if you would support the advocacy on this site.

And you answered, loud and clear. In just a few weeks, you donated $17,020 — and you told me in no uncertain terms where to go.

You said, “Go get ’em!”

That’s exactly what I intend to do.

The money you helped raise will pay for our development costs for a new, faster site and forum, cover the internet bills, and other expenses related to running a consumer advocacy site. But it does so much more than that: It reaffirms your support for the important work my advocates and I do every day.

And at a time like this, that vote of confidence is exactly what we needed.

I can’t say it enough: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

But now what? Well, my team and I are in the middle of “visioning” the next few years. We imagine a vibrant, sustainable nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that can help with any kind of case. We’re setting ambitious traffic, case and fundraising goals in order to bring you an organization that can do real good and outlasts all of us.

I’m so glad you’ve decided to join me on this adventure.

Here are this week’s stories:

Trying to get a refund can leave one spent (Washington Post)

The best and worst places to drive (USA Today)

Travel Troubleshooter: Wow, a 14-hour flight delay (Philadelphia Inquirer)

How to get better in Boulder, Colorado (and find time for a few turns) (Medium)

What To Do When You Need More Than Travel Insurance (LinkedIn)

See you next week.

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