Today we’re really excited to announce the opening of the Firedoglake Membership Program. It’s the culmination of months of planning and hard work on the part of the entire FDL team. It’s our attempt to address the challenge of building a sustainable, independent journalism organization in the age of the internet.
The Washington Post is supported by Kaplan. The Huffington Post was supported by venture capital, and had to sell out to AOL in order to expand their reporting capabilities. Think Progress is supported by CAP. And there are many entities that are subsidized by the political parties, and the money that tries to influence them. But the fact is that online advertising revenues provide only a small fraction of what their dead tree counterparts did, and will not sustain the same kind of staffing and resources necessary to pay people for their efforts.
It’s imperative that online entities make the leap from volunteer labor and actually pay people for their efforts. Without that, they will always be relying on the labor of those who have the personal resources to write for free. It excludes from full time participation those who are poor, who have to be paid, who need to work for a living. And it means the voices that will be heard most often are those who are not feeling the full impact of the economic problems we face.
At FDL, 75% of all our expenses go to paying the salaries of our staff, and the rest is devoted to technical and other costs that help them do what they do. Some of that revenue comes from advertising, but most comes in the form of donations. But those donations are usually tied to individual issues, and don’t provide a steady stream of predictable revenue that allows us to plan and grow.
Last year, Craig Newmark of Craigslist said he thinks that by the year 2020, NPR will be a “dominant force” in media because of their membership model.
“I have a feeling that membership models and philanthropy models will be stronger than advertising-supported organizations, because people are willing to pay for trustworthy news,” he said.
We agree. If you trust and value the reporting at FDL, from Hillman Award Winner Marcy Wheeler’s work from Scooter Libby to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to Dave Dayen’s work on mortgage foreclosure and Jon Walker’s reporting on health care, from Wikileaks and Bradley Manning to Audit the Fed and the BP oil spill, consider becoming a Founding Member of the Firedoglake membership program. Your annually renewing membership will help us do a lot more of the things we want to do, like sending Dave Dayen to report on the Wisconsin labor protests, or Michael Whitney to the Gulf to cover the BP oil spill, or the three-person team that covered the Prop 8 trial in San Francisco.
Plus, you get a very cool card with your name on it, which says “Founding Member” for those who join in the first year. You’ll also have the opportunity to work with us to build out MyFDL in ways that can help you in your local organizing efforts, and some pretty cool swag.
We’re really proud of the entire FDL team and the work they have done to put this program together, so check it out.