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Dear past and present Breakthrough subscribers,
Breakthrough is undergoing a crisis in energy and money.
We have suspended normal publication (effective May 1978)
until the paper receives the support it both needs and deserves. The decision to dissolve the newspaper or to resume
publication depends on you-and the community- on how
much value you place on the kind of communication Breakthrough has provided over the past two and a half years and
on what kind of commitment you are willing to make to
save your newspaper.
Unlike many causes, Breakthrough has never burdened its
readers with appeals based on guilt or martyrdom. Instead,
we have concentrated on doing a professional job and putting out a quality newspaper. Perhaps this has worked against
Our energy focused on news content and month after
month in our pages we tried to bring you a unique perspective on issues. We always heard comments that "This issue
is even better than the last." It was our hope that a good
product would attract new subscribers and encourage renewals. But this has not happened.
We are officially a corporation, a business, a profit-making
organization. This enables us to be political and independent. In reality, we are non-profit, bringing in only enough
money to meet operating expenses. No one is paid. We've
run on energy and commitment. How much energy? Almost 25,000 hours! One person alone has worked about
300 hours a month for the past 30 months. All of our other
staff hold full-time jobs and/or have families and together
they volunteer another 300-500 hours each month.
Yet, despite all our efforts and the special projects we have
undertaken, like the Daily Breakthrough, where we published 30,000 free papers for each day of the National
Women's Conference, we still reach only 2,000 households.
It's a fact of publishing life, you need numbers to attract
advertisers. Our small circulation has inhibited our advertising efforts and prevented us even from hiring a circulation
Our goal is to be a subscriber-supported newspaper. Just
think what 10,000 paid subscribers would mean in terms of
our survival and the impact we could have in our community. 10,000 households would mean a total circulation of
50-60,000 since, as you indicated in the reader survey, each
issue reaches four or five others.
Effective June 15, the yearly rate will be $7 ($13 for two
years and $18 for three years). 10,000 paid subscribers will
give us a $70,000 operating budget. This will allow us to
pay five full-time staff members, in addition fo our operating expenses. Advertising, for us, would be the gravy (it's
the meat and potatoes of most every other publication),
money to be used for an investigative reporting fund and
other development projects. We are trying to do in the next
two and a half months what it has taken two and a half
years to accomplish-to reach thousands of new subscribers
and at the same time to encourage renewals. (We can't afford to lose anyone!)
Each of you has been the source of our support from the
beginning and we cannot grow without your help. And this
is how you can help. If each of you reaches just one new
subscriber, we will double overnight and so on. If one
reaches four more we'll reach the 10,000 we desperately
need. Please collect the checks from your neighbors,
friends, office workers-people who have "meant to subscribe" or whose interest you would like to encourage
—and send them to us. We'll publish a progress report each
month. Also we will place these checks in a special account,
so that if we do not reach our goal, we will return payment
We have not lost our enthusiasm, only our energy. But energy can be restored by increased community interest in the '
newspaper and by the possibility of an equitable division of
work responsibility. We love Breakthrough and value the
working relationships we have with each other. There is a
real sharing and caring attitude among us in preparing each
issue for you. It would be a great personal loss for us not to
have Breakthrough but, even more we feel it would be a
great loss for Houston. There is nothing to replace it.
Breakthrough has served as a network of communication to
our politically aware and active readership. Almost 100% of
you are voters. A fact that did not go unnoticed by Kathy
Whitmire's unsuccessful run-off opponent who observed,
"When you .... have the lines of communication already
open through a medium like Breakthrough, how can you
help but be effective."
We want to continue to be effective. We're calling on you to
help us increase our numbers. Part of that drive will include
a major fund-raiser later this summer. If you have skills in
planning projects like this,- please call us.
We will be in full activity during the summer. We will continue our weekly meetings which began in May to study the
internal operation and project our business growth. We'll be
having summer workshops in writing, production, photography, typesetting, and a political forum, to develop a
trained staff of professionals. This will be open to the public. And we will publish three eight-page papers including
this issue about the progress we are making.Thus, the May
issue reaches you mid-June, the June in mid-July and the
July-August in mid-August. We will start the presses rolling
in September if we solve our critical business problems-but
In our reader survey last fall, we received a 100% positive
response from you to the question, "Is there a need for
Breakthrough?" "Are you kidding?" was the most typical
reply. Well, now Breakthrough needs you. Please help us.
For a Houston Breakthrough,