1. Why do you write about VIN News? Are you trying to discredit veterinarians?
- First, it’s never our intention to discredit – nor is it our agenda to endorse or promote – anyone or anything, least of all to discredit veterinarians. Strong, independent reporting makes democratic institutions stronger and more just for more people (and canines). I started this publication to fill a void that neither VIN News nor any other entity was filling by a long shot. What’s more problematic about VNS is that whereas not much stock is put into some of the other publications that cover the pet industry, VNS represents itself as a high quality journalism enterprise, thereby perpetuating problems by distorting how you learn and what you learn–and from whom.
- The Canine Review has always offered healthy doses of media reporting, not only about VNS, but on a wide range of entities that cover this industry. How the media and especially how reporting measures up on issues of fairness, accuracy, and ethics is especially important in the context of an industry with so much abuse and such a relatively ineffectual regulatory framework. Higher standards for information make something that much more accountable. We cover VNS because Dr. Pion has declined repeatedly to answer questions about its processes, including, for example, questions about the number of times his after-the-fact quote approval policy has resulted in substantial changes to a story.
2. I like your reporting, but what’s up with the paywall and price hikes?
- First: If you subscribed before mid-December 2021, you should be grandfathered into whichever rates you were previously paying. If that’s not the case, please contact me directly and I will get it fixed. That’s not to say you’re locked into those rates for all of eternity.
- Second and most important: The reason we raised our subscription price is simple. The kind of reporting we do is unique. We are the only journalism focused on the pet industry that provides honest, careful reporting that doesn’t cater to advertisers in an industry that’s full of abuse and devoid of meaningful regulation. That takes careful, time-consuming reporting (including incessant calls for comment – in order to be fair). And fact-checking. So, we need your help to sustain and continue to expand that kind of consumer-based coverage. And we believe we are providing real value in return. There’s no place else you can go to get the kind of reporting we do focused on this industry.
- Now that The Canine Review has gained traction and enough people have had regular, reasonably free access to understand our unique brand of journalism and what makes us so different, I am raising rates to get to break-even and, in fact, to begin recruiting a small, talented team of staff reporters who are likeminded in their commitments to being relentless about ethics, accuracy, research, and fairness.
3. What is “ethical journalism” in practice? What makes The Canine Review different?
Here’s a checklist. Strong, independent, ethical journalism offers stories in which all of the following are consistently true:
- Raising questions on important but long-overlooked issues: A powerful institution is asked to be accountable on an issue that it had never considered to be an issue. The story is raising the issue for the first time and most often, the issue involves money and/or high stakes policy. A good example: When the AVMA and the pet insurance industry trade group NAPHIA were at loggerheads over how to define “pre-existing condition” with the AVMA arguing for a more narrow definition with more consumer guardrails, The Canine Review asked Trupanion to take a position, knowing that the company is more or less centered around the veterinary profession. Or our reporting on ASPCA the 501c3 with respect to ASPCA Pet Insurance, specifically the details of the licensing agreement.
- New information: The story provides information that’s never been released, and the information is coming from people who don’t want to give the reporter the information. In other words, the story is not a press release dressed up as reporting. Example: our relentless coverage of regulators and DCM.
- Spotlight on the “bad” and the “good”: You can find multiple examples in The Canine Review of stories in which the reporting has significant negative impact on some pet industry providers AND ALSO examples of reporting in the same publication that impacts a company positively; in other words, the reporting shouldn’t consistently line up on one side supporting one set of interests.
- Quality journalism is also a credibility business, which means our newsroom is an open book defined by transparency and uncompromised ethics policies. Reporters who work with us need unrelenting drive, curiosity, no preconceived notions, thick skin, and above all, the understanding that to the greatest extent possible, every aspect of a story should take the reader along for the journey.
The price is meant to sustain all of that.
4. If I wanted to buy a large number of subscriptions for my company, clients, or members of my organization, could we get a discount?
- Yes, of course. We would charge 50% off the regular price for ten to 25 subscriptions; 65% off for more than 25 subscriptions up to 100. Above 100, we would offer deeper discounts. Please contact us by emailing me directly at email@example.com .
5. I only want to read one article. Why can’t you sell individual articles?
- We’d have to charge you something like the equivalent of a half year subscription, given the cost of setting up and maintaining accounts. Moreover, our goal is – and must be – to build a sustainable subscriber base. You can, however, always cancel a paid subscription and get a pro-rata refund equivalent to the portion of your unused annual subscription.
6. Are you really independent and not sponsored? What if Purina wanted to pay you $1 million to collaborate on a story about nutrition? Do you do that?
- Short answer, NO. If you’ve never heard the saying, “If you’re not the customer, you’re the product,” The Canine Review proves that concept. Our primary revenue source is always going to be subscription revenue (readers).
- The publisher Emily Brill (Bedford Dog, LLC formerly Emily Media LLC) is financing all startup costs with no outside investors to date. Having gained significant traction in years one and two as readers have discovered our unique brand of reporting, TCR now looks to a new stage focused on both sustaining and expanding by hiring a small but extremely talented team of reporters.
- We are open to and welcome inquiries from potential investors and partners. However, interested parties should know that we remain committed to full transparency as far as our readers are concerned. They will always be told clearly who pays for what. If we ever were to write about someone or something with which we have a financial relationship and whose interests are affected by a story we write, a disclosure will go in the story.
- Moreover, nobody – no investor, no friends, no one — other than editors and staff reporters will be able to access forthcoming reporting, let alone be able to influence it.
7. What’s The Canine Review’s relationship to Trupanion?
In May 2022, Trupanion, Inc. purchased a discounted group subscription for a limited number of its members. Trupanion has no control over any content The Canine Review publishes. Like other paying subscribers, Trupanion has the option of not renewing its group subscription in May 2023. Because Trupanion is currently our largest subscriber (also our only group subscriber) we disclose the subscription purchase in every article in which Trupanion and/or the pet insurance industry is covered.
In any event, thank you sincerely for reading.
Executive Editor and Founder, The Canine Review