Dear sweet, party pals:
Transparency, people! That’s what I’m all about. Remember in my last column when I was bellyaching about needing a therapist? You don't see many other newspaper editors complaining about their deteriorating mental health! Or the time I described how I sometimes process my emotions by “pee-crying” (uncontrollably sobbing while urinating)? You can bet your butt that famous, respected editors such as Perry White or J. Jonah Jameson never confessed to something that intimate. So give me a cookie, because THAT’S SOME GRADE-A TRANSPARENCY, RIGHT THERE!
And with that, here’s today’s transparency topic: How we're NOT wasting your money. As you know, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Mercury quickly found ourselves swirling down the drain following a huge loss of advertising revenue from music venues, restaurants, and businesses that depend on large gatherings. I was sure we were goners… but then? YOU SAVED US. Your generous contributions kept us afloat until we could bolster those donations with revenue from our livestream events (like HUMP!, SPLIFF, and the I, Anonymous Show), special advertising features (Patio Pages, Takeout Tuesdays), and Mercury T-shirt sales (such as our new “RESIST!” Tiger Tee! Get one! They’re SEXY!). And while all that stuff is keeping us afloat, it’s still your monthly contributions that are helping us stay sane and excel. So please keep doing that! We’ve got a long road ahead, and your monthly contributions (however small) make a big, BIG difference!
“AH-HA!” you say, pointing at me with an accusing glare. “And exactly WHAT are you doing with my monthly contribution, Mr. 'So-Called Transparency'?” Well, first of all, I don’t appreciate your sarcasm and excessive air-quotes, but since you are the person buttering my bread (with contributions), I’m happy to answer. First off, here’s what we’re doing with your money:
• PAYING THE BEST GODDAMN NEWS TEAM IN PORTLAND! There are a lot of great reporters in Portland, and we’re lucky to have them. But if you’re going to try and tell me that the Mercury’s Alex Zielinski and Blair Stenvick aren’t the best goddamn news team in Portland, I am going to laugh your ass all the way to the Idaho border. Whether it’s being knocked around and tear gassed by the local and federal police, calling out the mayor for his wishy-washy approach to police force violence, exposing dangerous health practices in the local prisons, amplifying the voices of POC, sex workers, and the LGBTQI+ community, or just clearly explaining complicated issues that will affect Portlanders for years to come, A&B (as I call them) are tireless, dogged, and clearly interested in one thing: Bringing you truth that you may not find anywhere else. That is your money being well spent, friends!
• GETTING NEW, DIVERSE WRITERS AND PHOTOGS IN YOUR FACE! While we originally used your money to keep the lights on, your continuing monthly contributions are now helping us bring back former Mercury journalists into the fold as well as some new, diverse writers and photogs who we’re really excited about! SO YAY YOU… YOU DID THAT!
And now, here’s stuff we’re NOT doing with your money:
• PAYING RENT ON AN OFFICE WE DON’T USE! We haven’t occupied our office since early March due to the pandemic, which is not a huge deal because early on we developed a very strong telecommuting game. That means we’re not even considering using an office until it’s safe—so why the hell should YOU pay for an office we’re not even using? So we moved out. We’ll get another office someday, and yes, it feels a bit weird right now… but here’s the way I see it: The Mercury isn’t an “office.” The Mercury is here (this is me pointing at my head) and here (this is me pointing at my heart) and I can guarantee that my amazing workmates are pointing at their corresponding body parts as well.
• PAYING TO CLEAN DOG POOPY OUT OF OUR NEWSPAPER BOXES! Look, maybe we’ll start publishing newspapers again (if and when the advertising money comes back), but for the moment our newspaper street boxes are empty. And for a while, I was totally fine with people dropping their dog poopy bags into those boxes. Better there than on the streets, right? However, when cleaning out dog poopy starts eating away at YOUR money that should be going to high quality reporting? Sorry, Susan and Kip! Find an actual garbage can for Mr. Barkingson’s poopy. We’re taking our boxes off the street and putting them into storage for now!
Another thing we—or more specifically, I am not doing with your money (because I know some of you are suspicious, and possibly for good reason):
• ORDERING VINTAGE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL PRODUCTS ON EBAY! In these uncertain times, everyone is having to make sacrifices. So if that means I cannot immediately use the money from the paycheck which YOU PROVIDE on various vintage swag from the Disney Channel’s classic 2006 High School Musical movie that includes (but is not limited to) T-shirts, dolls, pencils, stickers, trading cards, posters, board games, tote bags, alarm clocks, pillows, umbrellas, hand sanitizer, lip jellies, birthday party supplies, and Christmas stockings… well, so be it.
In short, the money you contribute to the Mercury is directly funding our primary mission: looking out for Portland, the people who need our help, and YOU. And we take your generosity and the money that comes with it very seriously. So once again, THANK YOU SO MUCH. In all sincerity, we are not entitled to your support, but we really do appreciate it with all our heart, and we’ll continue trying our best to earn it. We still need your help, so if you can, please set up a monthly contribution here.
(Psst. And if you have any unused, mint-in-box, vintage High School Musical paraphernalia that you want to get rid of… well, I won’t say no to that either!)
Wm. Steven Humphrey