For the past five months, I’ve produced this publication for free. It’s been an act of service to my fellow COVID-19 reporters, public health communicators, and readers who simply want to understand the pandemic a bit better.
The newsletter will continue to be free, as will many of the COVID-19 data resources I publish. But in tandem with this new site, I’m launching a membership program.
This program will enable COVID-19 communicators to connect more directly with each other, as well as to provide feedback that will shape what I cover. It’ll also help me cover my own costs, which have grown significantly as I moved platforms.
I already talked about my technical reasons for moving from Substack to a full-fledged website. I have another big reason for setting up a site, though: I’m planning to keep the CDD going beyond this pandemic. Its name might change later in 2021 or 2022, but my mission will stay the same—building accessibility and accountability for public health data in the United States.
This publication won’t end when COVID-19 does. But even that idea, COVID-19 “ending,” feels tenuous to me. Maybe you feel that way, too. Maybe you’ve been reading articles like Ed Yong’s “Where Year Two of the Pandemic Will Take Us” or Maryn McKenna’s “2021 Will Be a Lot Like 2020,” that unpack how far we still need to go before life returns to some semblance of normalcy. Maybe you realize that America’s recovery from the pandemic won’t be so simple as 70% of the population getting vaccinated. Maybe you feel haunted by the structural inequities that COVID-19 revealed in our healthcare system and beyond, and you know you could never write enough stories or donate to enough mutual aid funds to make up the gap.
Covering COVID-19, I’ve realized, is not just about this virus. It’s about making sure we’re ready for the next public health crisis. And we do that not just by growing our scientific capability but by prioritizing the public in public health. To change the systems in which we live, we need to understand them—and we need to bring our communities along with us.
If you feel this way, too, join me! Help me build a network that will be ready to cover this pandemic and the next one.
And now, the technical details. Here are the benefits of membership:
- Community: Join a Slack server where COVID-19 reporters and communicators share resources and advice.
- Resources: Exclusive cleaned datasets, visualizations, and other tools to assist you in your work.
- Shape the Dispatch: Your priorities and needs will shape what the CDD covers and which new resources are produced.
- Accessibility: Keep the CDD free for all its readers! Support accountability for public health data!
The recommended membership fee is $10/month.
But I understand that the pandemic is a difficult time for financial commitments. As such, I’m also offering pay-what-you-will pricing, starting at $2/month. There’s no difference in benefits between the two price tiers.
In the interest of transparency, I’ve published my major costs here. To break even, I would need 120 members to join at the recommended $10/month tier.
I also want to call attention to the second line on that costs page: Intern’s research and writing time. That’s right—this is going from a one-person publication to a two-person publication! My friend (and current Barnard junior) Sarah Braner has agreed to join me as an intern for their spring semester. You’ll learn more about them next week.
As I am extremely against unpaid internships, my top financial priority right now is paying Braner’s salary. That shakes out to 18 members joining at $10/month.
If you’re not ready to commit to membership right now, you can still support the publication with a one-time donation on Ko-fi.