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L.A. TACO’s Membership Drive Ends: What We’ve Learned and What Comes Next

We’ve been told many times, in so many different ways, that we should “stick to tacos.” But that’s not who we are. Nor who we write for.

L.A. TACO at TACO Madness 2024

The worst day in the nearly 20-year history of L.A. TACO arrived on April 24th of this year, when the editor and I were sadly forced to furlough ¾ of our editorial staff in a desperate struggle to meet our financial obligations and keep this publication alive.

That same day, we launched a unprecedented membership drive. It wasn't easy publicly admitting we had hit hard times, but we wanted to give our readers the chance to help us save this publication and the jobs of three hard-working journalists.

Within 24 hours, the flood of support from readers who value our site allowed us to bring these critical staff members back to the office to fight together for a better future. Honestly, we were unsure how we could even proceed in such a diminished capacity. Without our team, we would have just been a shell of what we want and need to be—a collection of passionate people extolling the furthest expanses of Los Angeles.

We love being a part of L.A. TACO because we love Los Angeles, all of Los Angeles, and we want media that reflects our passion for the real L.A., the imperfect city that we and our readers know and ride for.

The challenges of running a journalism-focused publication in the age of Social Media, AI, and corporate fear of any and all conflict or uncomfortable language are real– there’s a reason we don’t see many new media outlets popping up in Los Angeles. 

We’ve been told many times, in many different ways, that we should “stick to tacos.” In other words, don’t cover anything controversial, don’t rock the boat, and just cover L.A.’s food scene in an advertiser-friendly way that won't challenge anyone.

But that’s not who we are. Nor who we write for.

We’ve spent years building a truly alternative, non-corporate news and information source for our city, using L.A.'s incredible food landscape as a lens to explore the issues and challenges that make life here both difficult and exhilarating.

At the same time, we’re trying to have fun, engage our readers, throw amazing events that bring the best of L.A. together, and make a positive impact on the diverse communities our small staff represents. While doing our best to hold power accountable.

The membership drive we launched at the end of April was ambitious– we wanted to go from 1,500 members to 5,000. We didn’t reach that goal, but have added over 2,000 new members, which expands our runway to 3,500 members, allowing us to make further, though cautious investments in our vision.

Combined with merch sales and donations, this has allowed us to embrace a more optimistic outlook on the coming months, though our ultimate survival will continue to be a fight to establish a working model for hyper-local journalism in its embattled 21st century.

Our deep gratitude goes out to those of you who have been with us from day one and those who joined us today. Our appreciation is immeasurable. We love you and are so thankful that you have chosen to back us and keep this dream alive.

It hasn't happened yet, but we know we’ll get to 5,000 members, likely this year, if we continue to do what we do best—tell the stories that need to be told. We will keep exploring the too often ignored parts of Los Angeles and create guides to the city that do what no AI will ever be able to do-—deepen our connections to each other and work for our readers across L.A., not for corporations or commendations.

We now have an army of more than 3,500 members who are cheering us on. If you haven’t joined yet, and are able to, please give us a chance. We promise to keep trying to get better and better at making your life in L.A. more interesting, informed, and tasty.

Thank you, from the publisher and all of us at L.A. TACO.

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