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Letter from the Editor: The future of Ms. Mayhem

Jul 15, 2022 | Editorials, featured two | 2 comments

//Ms. Mayhem reporters have amplified the stories of women and nonbinary folks across Denver since May 2020. Graphic by Madison Lauterbach | mlauterbach@msmayhem.com

When I graduated from MSU Denver in Dec. 2019, I knew exactly the next adventure I wanted to embark on. I wanted to create a publication focused on telling stories and news about the parts of Denver I care most about. 

And in May 2020, I launched that outlet with the help of an amazing but small group of people. Ms. Mayhem officially went live at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and just weeks after my mom passed away

It was a baptism-by-fire. We learned on the fly how to best report on the protests, keeping followers updated to the minute with Twitter and Facebook Live. We cultivated a Rolodex of experts and laypeople who could best inform our stories. We worked with limited resources to bring the type of news we wanted to see to other Denverites. 

Looking back at those stories we ran in the first few weeks of Ms. Mayhem, I am just as proud of the work we put in now as I was then. I’m even more proud of how far we’ve come as journalists, leaders and people. 

As much as we’ve educated our audience on the wide range of subjects we’ve covered—pelvic floor therapy, sobriety during the pandemic, how to file taxes as a sex worker—we’ve learned just as much. Over the last two years, we as journalists have been afforded the opportunity to cover topics brand new to us. We’ve developed new skills, knowledge and awareness of the impact of our words. 

It is incredible to see our growth over these last two years. Our team has changed drastically from those early days: Some have left us for bigger outlets, to report overseas, to be home with their children or to pursue other industries. But I am proud of each of my team members and what they have accomplished in their time with Ms. Mayhem. We’ve all grown as journalists, leaders and citizens. 

We’ve published stories that have impacted the daily lives of Coloradans in many ways: bringing attention to a broken system, boosting the profile of independent artists, highlighting important health issues or explaining ballot measures. We had reporters on the ground in Washington, D.C. for the insurrection and the inauguration. Two of our stories from 2021 won the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies awards. The Casting Forward team spent a year on an ambitious video project and organized a successful premiere event.

We’ve accomplished so much in such a short period of time. 

But despite how much we’ve impacted the community, we’ve faced some revenue issues since we launched. I have self-funded this venture from the beginning, hoping that down the road we’d find advertisers, paid content opportunities or a reliable group of Patreon members. As firm believers in free access to the stories we’ve published, we refused to put up a paywall. But we are now staring down the barrel of significant financial loss that I can no longer justify. Unfortunately, the Ms. Mayhem team and I have come to the decision to suspend publication temporarily until we can find a dependable source of income. Our last stories will be published no later than July 31. 

If it is possible for us to come back with funding, my goal is to pay my editors as full-time salaried workers. For the last two years, everyone on the team has worked as part-time freelancers with at least one other job. That really inhibited us from producing consistent coverage with quick turnaround. We’d also like to expand our community-based reporting to other parts of Colorado, and perhaps even other cities. And if given the resources, expanding our video and photo work and breaking into podcasting would be our first priority. 

We deeply appreciate our readers’ support over these last two incredible years. It has been an amazing opportunity to serve the Denver community in this capacity, and we look forward to someday continuing this work. I want to personally thank Ali Mai and Cassandra Ballard for helping me get this outlet off the ground; Annie Burky and Esteban Fernandez for their leadership as my co-managing editors; Polina Saran and Keegan Williams for their dedication; Lauren Cecilia Carter and Meghan Palmer for their work behind the scenes; and Lex Mobley for picking up the mantel on web design. 

 

And a huge thank you to the writers and photographers who kept us flowing with engaging pieces:

Addison Herron-Wheeler Alexandra Cummings
Amelia Petrini Anna Sutterer
Emma Jerry Hailey Groo
Jenna Thomas Karson Hallaway
Lexi Reich Madeleine Kelly
Padideh Aghanoury 

And to all of the contributors we’ve had along the way:

Amanda Moriels Deborah Cameron
Doug Hrdlicka Erica Buehler
Hannah Thomas James Bofenkamp
James Burky Kieran Purce
Maria Muller Megan Webber
Rachel Galstad Toluwanimi Obiwole

 

There are so many people who have made Ms. Mayhem what it is, and I am so grateful to each of you. The website will remain up and operational for the foreseeable future, so make sure to continue sharing our stories and following us on our social media. I hope to see you on the other side! 

2 Comments

  1. Laika Fox

    this is so heartbreaking to hear, but totally understandable. thank you Madison and the whole Ms Mayhem team for all of your excellent reporting thus far. and Thank you for taking care of yourself! we need no martyrs in this revolution ❤️

    Let us know how we can support your work! Patreon? Substack? sponsor scouting?

    Reply
  2. Christopher Imhof

    Damn Madi ! There are so many of my old students I’ve proudly seen go out in the world and do things they were passionate- but you have always been true to the mission of being true to you, to showing people a pov that was not obvious and always standing up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves! I really hope you get this up and going again because especially in this moment in history, this journalism is the most important! Your passion is contagious and I hope you keep leading the fight !

    Reply

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