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Peter Oborne's HBSC/Telegraph revelations expose a fundamental threat to press freedoms. Contribute to openDemocracy today, so we can keep bringing you the stories others won't.

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Mary Fitzgerald
20 February 2015

Dear readers,

This week openDemocracy broke a story which casts a shadow over our democracy. Peter Oborne’s allegation that Britain’s Daily Telegraph has suppressed embarrassing stories about big corporations like HSBC rather than risk advertising revenues cannot be ignored. If journalism doesn’t hold power to account, democracy doesn't work.

Today, we're launching a funding appeal so we can keep bringing you the stories that others won't. Join us here.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by the Telegraph/HSBC scandal. As we have stopped paying for news, papers have become increasingly dependent on advertisers. That leaves us with a stark reality. Either we find a way to fund journalism into the future, or democracy itself is in peril.

On openDemocracy, we don’t shy away from fearless reporting. We’ve taken on G4S, governments and vast banks. Because we’re a not-for-profit, there are no corporate owners or shareholders expecting dividends. But it also means we need your support to continue.

It’s normal, when fundraising, to promise specific outcomes. To break it down into neat packages of “£2 pays for a coffee, £100 pays for an article”. But in all honesty, you know it’s not that simple.

The truth is that the best journalism comes when reporters follow whatever scent they find to wherever it takes them. That is what we are asking you to help pay for.

We can't allow truth to be caged by a dependence on advertisers. Contribute today, and help set journalism free.

Thank you, in advance,

Mary Fitzgerald, Editor-in-Chief

PS: In his resignation statement on openDemocracy, Peter Oborne wrote:

“A free press is essential to a healthy democracy. There is a purpose to journalism, and it is not just to entertain. It is not to pander to political power, big corporations and rich men. Newspapers have what amounts in the end to a constitutional duty to tell their readers the truth.

“It is not only the Telegraph that is at fault here. The past few years have seen the rise of shadowy executives who determine what truths can and what truths can’t be conveyed across the mainstream media.”


This worrying trend is why openDemocracy exists. Our model depends on a simple belief: that you are willing to pay for what we do. Please keep this hope alive and contribute here.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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