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Analysis

Knock LA’s Biggest Year Yet

We’re saying thank you and goodbye to 2022 and welcoming 2023’s opportunities.

Knock LA's 2022 Year in Review

The past year was another one of explosive growth for Knock LA. Our reporters and editors have been working hard all year to keep our readers informed on issues inside LA City Hall and across the county, covering tenants’ rights, workers on strike, and more. Being primarily funded by donations, we feel it’s important for transparency to share with our readership exactly how we grew. But let’s start at the beginning.

Knock LA, then styled KNOCK.LA, was started in 2017 by a group of members of Ground Game LA, a grassroots nonprofit. Then, as now, Knock was powered by dedicated and passionate volunteers, donating their expertise and countless hours of work to keep the site running.

From 2017 to 2020, Knock LA raised a total of $24,663 in donations and generated 1,016,137 unique page views. 2021 marked a year of major growth, in which we raised over $45,000 in donations and generated over 1,220,232 unique page views.

In 2022, those numbers have doubled. We have raised over $48,000 in donations from readers and received $70,000 in grants. We also generated 2.5 million page views.

Line graph showing Knock LA's Patreon Income from 2018 to present. In the first half of 2021, the line jumps from near zero to 3000. In late 2022 it jumps to 5000.
Knock LA’s monthly Patreon donations

How Did This Happen?

As you may guess, it always comes back to our volunteers and articles. Ever since 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic peeling back the peaceful facade of our society and the George Floyd uprising lighting a fire under many, Angelenos have been increasingly engaged in local politics and searching for fact-driven local news coverage. Knock LA has continually stepped up our game to provide hyperlocal stories that you won’t find at any other news outlet.

Specifically, Jon Peltz’s reporting on the leaked Fed tapes had a huge impact on our readership and donations. Revealing the leaked audio led to national attention on LA, with even President Joe Biden calling for the disgraced councilmembers to resign as protesters brought City Hall to a standstill for multiple days. 

Ultimately, Nury Martinez resigned first as council president, then as a councilmember, and Ron Herrera resigned as president of the Federation of Labor. A recall effort has been brought against Councilmember Kevin de León, and a skirmish with an activist has left him still lower in public opinion. 

Reporting on this topic took dozens of hours of labor, including transcribing and creating closed captions. On its best day, this page garnered over 100,000 views.

We also can’t talk content without mentioning the ongoing reporting on violence committed by LASD and LAPD. Cerise Castle’s 15-part series A Tradition of Violence continues to bring traffic to Knock LA, likely boosted by the two awards Cerise won in 2022. We’ve also continued reporting on incidents of violence committed by law enforcement officers, holding these powers accountable. In the case of Santa Ana Police Department’s Major Enforcement Team (MET), Ben Camacho’s article revealing their gang-like actions resulted in a civilian oversight commission being established in Santa Ana. 

Last, but certainly not least, 2022 was an election year, which means Knock LA published two Progressive Voter Guides: one for the primary and one for the midterm elections. Now that LA City Council elections follow the federal election cycle, Angelenos are taking advantage of the opportunity to be more civically engaged, and Knock LA will always be here to support voters in our city. Researching over 100 different races and candidates is a task too large for any one voter to shoulder, which is why we gather a team of researchers and editors to put together our Voter Guides. 

The Primary Voter Guide saw 256,652 page views, while the Midterm Voter Guide garnered 210,761 views, with 1,620,593 and 2,456,701 Angelenos voting in each election, respectively.

What Do You Do With All of These Donations?

Knock LA wants to be held accountable by our community, not corporations, which is why we don’t accept money from advertisers, sponsorships, or retail affiliates. We only take donations from readers through Patreon and ActBlue, fueled by our fundraising efforts. This year, we also accepted grants from The California Endowment and Susan Pritzker. We believe this is the best way to maintain editorial integrity. 

In 2022, $45,223 was paid out to our freelancers. This includes not just reporters and editors, but also the dedicated team that is responsible for live-tweeting the LA City Council meetings. We also spent $22,697 in administrative expenses. This is quite a bit higher than last year due to our translations of our Voter Guides. Other admin costs include paying to host our site and digital marketing tools.

Throughout 2023, we will continue our fundraising efforts so we can offer competitive rates to writers and editors and pay our team for their labor as much as we can. This year, we are thrilled to offer stipends to some of our more labor-intensive service positions. While we’ve gotten this far on primarily volunteer power, we’re hoping to reach a point where we can hire full-time employees to take us to the next level.

Pie chart showing Knock LA's 2022 budget. Freelancer payments: 38.2%. Admin expenses: 19.2%. Rollover to 2023: 42.6%.
Knock LA’s spending in 2022

What’s Next for Knock LA?

We’re not psychics, so we can’t predict what kind of coverage Knock LA will see this year, but we do expect to be at the forefront of any breaking City Hall scandals, acts of police brutality, and workers’ strikes.

Not only that, but we’re working harder than ever to bring more coverage of California’s prison system to our site. This work is intensive and difficult, and we hope to share more with you soon. Another target for growth at Knock LA is to expand our culture coverage, to remind everyone of the reasons we put up with all of the less-than-ideal aspects of life.

We hope you’ll continue to read our articles as we continue to grow. We hope that our articles have impacted your life and connected you more deeply to this city we love. And we hope you’ll join Knock LA in working to make Los Angeles a better place for everyone. We can’t do this without you.