We won two national awards. What it means and where we go from here.

Alek Haak-Frost (me) accepting an award at the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards in Austin, Texas.

Good journalism is difficult, expensive, and often thankless work. But as it turns out, that last part is more of a guideline than a requirement. 

If you haven’t heard, Watershed Voice was recognized with two national awards at the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards in Austin, Texas for Outstanding Coverage and Public Service. LION (Local Independent Online News) Publishers is a professional journalism association for independent news publishers with approximately 450 members in U.S. and Canada. So winning these awards was no small feat, considering the immense talent in those newsrooms, and that Watershed didn’t exist before 2020. 

With all that said, I have to do something now that we journalists are trained to never do, and something I personally loathe, which is making the story about myself. Not for ego, not for clout but because I am a one-man newsroom, and have been since November 2020. I’ve been producing beyond my capacity for years, and the burnout is real, ya’ll. 

I generally speak in “we’s” because Watershed Voice is an idea, it’s about community, it’s about equality, it’s about speaking truth to power, it’s about all of us. I no doubt have supporters, I love my board, I love my office manager and best friend Steph Hightree, my wife Deborah is a godsend, and I love all that champion what we’re trying to do. 

But ultimately, in terms of journalism, I’ve been operating alone and for very little money since our angel investor dropped out a week before Thanksgiving two years ago, and I was forced to lay off my entire staff. Steph and I stayed on, and worked for free for months, and even now, the compensation we do receive doesn’t come close to minimum wage.

I do this work because it matters, because this community and every community should have a news source they can count on, that they can trust, with journalists who live and work where they do, and have a stake in the future of the place they call home.

I am that journalist, and I want to be that journalist. But I also can’t do it alone, not anymore, and not at the rate I’ve been doing it. I need your help to make Watershed Voice sustainable, and to help it grow, and that takes money. I want to hire staff writers, I want everyone who works for Watershed to make a living wage, and I want it to continue to operate long after I’m gone. 

So in this season of giving, I’m asking you to help me do all of that by donating, not just today but throughout the year because whether it’s $5 or $5,000, it will matter. 

My best,
Alek Haak-Frost
Executive Editor & Publisher
Watershed Voice

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