openDemocracy: The price of principles

Julian Sayarer's post at thisisnotforcharity.com in support of openDemocracy

An article is a formula. Fabricating a good article from words is the same as fabricating a good table from wood, you take your time, you follow rules, it will stand. In order to do this, you start writing with a certain style, ease towards the subject that you mean to broach, something gentle, easy to read, so that before your reader realises it they're interested in your article and might as well carry on reading. This is what I'm doing right now, following a formula. I'm about to stop doing it.

openDemocracy is set to close. openDemocracy is set to close unless they can raise the last £26,000 of a £250,000 needed to clear the foundation's debts. I'm abandoning journalistic protocol and the subtleties of a good article because... well... frankly, this is important, and whilst hijacked oil tankers and horse meat and bankers' bonuses are also important, openDemocracy is more important because it is a media by which we can discuss problems in a way that seeks to address them, rather than merely to create real life cinema or high-brow gossip.

I've contributed around a half dozen articles to openDemocracy in the last two years... I've received £0 in return for my work. Over the years I've been paid to write for magazines and journals, and of all the work I've produced, it's that which appears on openDemocracy that means most to me, I'm most proud of, and is most important to the world. oD does not abandon an issue after the 48 hour window in which newspapers seek to profit from it, oD is committed to ideas that mean something to how we live, rather than only the quick titillation of a headline scandal. oD does not play to the lowest common denominator, and it believes humans are on this world to do more than just buy stuff... it is for these reasons that writers contribute their work for free, and it is for these reasons that oD does not make profit.

If you care about the world you live in, and are not a regular reader of openDemocracy, then start reading. If you want to go on reading openDemocracy, if you have enjoyed the articles I've written for them, then pay a little money for it. Our mainstream media resides in the gutter, it assumes the worst in people, tells them the worst about one another, and operates more as a bullshit carousel than as an integral component in a functioning democracy. You cannot have a high standard of democracy without a high standard of media, and if the mainstream media is to be removed from the gutter, or held to account for its promotion of organised ignorance, we need sources like openDemocracy. As much as anything else, that's the issue here... there is no other source like openDemocracy.

The current funding shortfall is the result of growth, but not growth for only the sake of growth, or growth for the sake of greed. Ten years after its foundation, with readership rising internationally, oD restructured with new sections, campaigns, and editors to manage the new interest and adapt to a changing world. It is evidence of just how oD pre-empts politics and news that growth has been greatest in such politically significant regions as India and north Africa. The organisation's finances have since been returned to a sustainable footing, with expenses balanced against revenues, but the debts of restructuring must be cleared in order for oD to continue. The world is constantly changing, and this crisis is the price of oD's willingness to take bold steps in order to stay relevant. Our media is funded by advertising revenues from supermarkets, banks, oil corporations, automobile manufacturers and purveyors of consumer goods; news intended to challenge a flawed world is intermingled with promotions by companies that will sacrifice all principles and human values in return for profit. Through our consumerism we pay for this to happen, and it does not need saying that the world will become a steadily darker place if the production of news is paid for by corporations. The cost of principled media, free for all to read, is a donation to openDemocracy. The £216,000 of donations raised so far shows how many people believe in this cause, and how strongly they believe in it.

You will not save a child from hunger, you will not take a rough sleeper off the streets, provide a blanket for an elderly person or stop a rainforest being felled. You will be paying for the ideas, and the promotion of the ideas, that can help us all deal with these problems before they become problems. You will be paying for media that is not worn-down by cynicism or distracted by hysterics, openDemocracy is written and edited by people who care deeply about the world, and who still have the courage to believe that world can be made better. You cannot put a price on these ideals, but they have to survive.

First published in (this is not for charity)

 

About the author

Julian Sayarer writes at (this is not for charity). The site and blog arose from his 2009 world record for a circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle, a protest against the corporatisation of sport and human endeavour. He is currently writing a book about the experience and is a cycle courier by day.

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