Thorns & Roses: The Worst, Best & Most Absurd (7/3)

Absurd: Inside Insider Finances

You may recall this headline from February: “Insider Louisville cuts three top execs as it struggles to align costs with revenue.” IL axed CEO Tom Cottingham, COO Jon Pyles and Director of Audience Engagement Jim McKiernan to “help” cut “annual expenditures by 40 percent, from about $1.6 million to about $950,000,” but that still left a shortfall of about $525,000 for 2019. Well, IL has posted its form 990 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax for 2018, which gives us better understanding of  the online-only publication’s “struggles.” First, why the Absurd? Many reasons, but the following alone is enough: IL identifies itself on the tax form as “Louisville’s primary unbiased source of local news on issues that matter most to citizens.”Sorry, Courier Journal, WFPL and WDRB! Other interesting items include that the average number of monthly unique visitors to IL’s website was 206,000. (For context, the CJ reported 1.8 million such visits in February 2018.) Total revenue: $1.7 million. Total expenses: $1.9 million. Total revenue from just the eight listed contributors: $1 million. Largest individual donor: David A. Jones Jr. and Mary Gwen Wheeler: $300,000. No. 2: Joshua L. Rosenthal, $150,000. A tie for third: Matt Thornton and Paul and Viki Diaz, $25,000. Largest grant: James Graham Brown Foundation, $500,000. Second largest grant: The Gheens Foundation, $20,000. Executive compensation: $129,600, Pyles; and $75,000, Cottingham. Average hours per week Cottingham worked: One. (That is what it says!) No salaries were listed for McKiernan and remaining execs, Chief Community Officer Brian Eichenberger and Chief Content Officer Mickey Meece. Other salaries and wages: $1 million, including $357,374 for fundraising expenses. Content contributors: $147,706. Number of employees: 15. Occupancy: $114,015. Can IL survive? We sincerely hope so. More journalism is better, even if it is not from the “primary unbiased source of local news …”

Thorn: Yet Another Horse Death

Churchill Downs has had another fatality — Will Call, a 5-year-old that was about to be retired. Before dying, apparently of a heart attack, Will Call had won six of 17 career starts and earned $354,911, the CJ reported.  “It’s not about the money to me,” the owner said.  “It’s about the love of the animal.” The newspaper reported that there had been two race-related fatalities at Churchill during this meet through June 25.