Fenix started at a dive bar in the West Village. I was sitting next to my husband, both of us drinking Sweetwater 420. It was Friday after work, and I had turned the conversation to journalism. At the time, I was a few months into my job at an online media startup, and I was disappointed. Instead of teaching young journalists how to pull a records request or interview their school's President, I was getting reprimanded by the company about the number of free articles each of these students was writing.
This wasn't what I pictured when I dreamed of being an editor in New York City. It wasn't even close.
The volume in my voice got louder as I explained that the problem wasn't journalism itself. The problem was the business model. I was swinging my arms frantically as I told him about how advertising didn't make any sense for journalism anymore. Why were the people that paid the bills and the people that consumed the product different? Why did we expect publications to put readers' interests first if they don't even have a relationship with readers? And why is it that we expect anything else besides clickbait when the only thing that matters is how many clicks you can drive through to your website?
In this fit of passion, I almost knocked over a guy's drink as he walked by. Now, I was embarrassed. I sighed and turned to stare at my beer.
But then my husband asked me the simplest question — "Why don't you do something about it?"
That little moment changed everything. Not long after, I quit my job at that online startup and began building up the courage to create Fenix. I read countless Pew Research articles about the state of media and reader habits. I journaled about how insecure I felt in daring to do this. I slowly reached out to freelance journalists who might be able to help me.
It has taken over two years, but Fenix is finally here. I'm proud to share this moment with you. I hope our reporting can inform you and our storytelling can delight you. I hope we can show you the value we see in journalism, and I hope we can inspire you to become passionate about funding it.
For us, this is as much of a starting point as that night at the bar. We want to research, investigate, and write many more stories for you. And we would like you to be part of that journey. So, if you're finding yourself almost knocking over someone else's drink because readers deserve more than clickbait, then I think it's our turn to ask — Why don't you do something about it?
Who are you?
My name is Mariana Heredia, and I am the founder of Fenix. I have worked in all aspects of media from editorial and production to sponsorships and advertising. All of these experiences are what led to the creation of Fenix. Well, that and a very stubborn desire to “save newspapers.” I'm based in New York City.
What do you do?
I work on Fenix fulltime. I source journalists to write and help them develop their pitches. I edit the stories and produce them so they look great when you're reading. I'm also coming up with marketing strategies to get our message out into the world. Oh, and I'm running the Fenix social accounts. It's honestly too much for one woman.
What does my contribution support?
Your contribution will help Fenix grow beyond this one-person team. It will go toward hiring experienced journalists to write stories, fact checkers to ensure quality, editors to bring in structure, photographers to illustrate our words, and tech support so we can keep this site functioning. It will help us create a digital publication unlike any other.
What happens next?
We'll keep writing stories. We have a few articles ready for you to read now on the site as well as a couple crowdfunding. You can sign up for our newsletter to stay in the know about new stories we have in the works, and of course, you can follow us on social to keep up with all of this progress.
If you're a fan of our work and want to see more, this level gives you access to 3 articles plus their audio versions.