Thank you for visiting the home of my #SupportJournalism project.
A Short History
I pretty much stumbled into this without really meaning to. It all started after yet another wildly inappropriate attack on our free press by a petulant president with no regard whatsoever for the office he holds.
As a form of personal protest, I asked the good people of Twitter to help me send him a message that we’re not okay with his attacks on our most fundamental freedoms, and they came through with flying colors. Inspired by this, I offered to pay for ten free subscriptions to the Washington Post to those who needed them, and almost immediately others matched my contribution.
And that’s really how this project came to be. Over the next week, in a rather frantic and disorganized manner, we had managed to give access to nearly fifty different individuals. It might have ended there, but the need was quite great and an anonymous benefactor took notice, offering a rather large contribution to help me give the project a firm footing in which to start on.
A Bright Future
It is my hope this project will continue to grow in both scope and purpose. I’ve come to see how this project can help counter the impact of fake news. Without access to reputable journalism, some individuals are more susceptible to gaslighting and tend to follow accounts engaging in it. So this project serves a dual mission: adding to the revenue of publications providing meaningful coverage and providing access to the individuals who can benefit most from it.
I’m very proud of what we’ve started here and this is only the beginning. I had hoped to re-launch this project as a recognized charity, but the costs and legal requirements are challenging during such an early stage: for now, I think it makes sense to just focus on helping those we can and hope that the project will continue to grow organically. Once that happens, we’ll move beyond the generic name of #SupportJournalism and onto much greater heights.
I’m also working on a counterpart to this project that I’m extremely excited to share with everyone: I’ll be making an announcement very soon!
A Place in the Present
I am only able to offer this service because of the heartfelt contributions of others. And that requires a fair amount of trust, and so I operate this project as transparently as I can. There are a number of ways I accomplish this.
On the donation side, I publicly record all of the payments I receive on this page of this site. I do not share any personal information. Donors often want to be completely anonymous, but in some cases, they’ll allow me to share their Twitter handle so I can personally acknowledge their kind act. Either way, I make a point of saying thanks to them on this thread at Twitter.
On the recipient side, I have a similar process, but I don’t allow anyone to be anonymous. It’s vital donors know their money is being spent on real people; without that, I doubt this program could last for very long. As a result, I ask that all recipients make their requests publicly in one of these sub-threads on Twitter and provide confirmation after they’ve received their digital subscription. I can’t always guarantee the latter, but the vast majority of recipients do. There’s also a complete list of recipients on this page of this site.
The Fine Print
To be clear, in the case of both donors and recipients, no personal information is shared publicly beyond a Twitter username (and in the case of donors, this can be suppressed). In the case of recipients, I often don’t need very much personal information anyway: most of the time I can provide a gift code that is entered directly on the publication’s website.
There’s no catch. I’ve made this process as straightforward as I possibly can, because it benefits all parties, including myself. When I first started this, the process was laborious and time-consuming beyond belief. I’ve had to work hard to streamline the process as much as possible. Any additional information you need to know as a donor or recipient can be found on the other pages of this site.
And finally, as a matter of complete transparency, 85% of donations go directly to paying for digital subscriptions. I use the other 15% to pay for costs on my end, the biggest of which are the taxes I have to pay for accepting these donations. Whatever is left of that 15% may help to cover some of my time, but it is a very small drop in the bucket and I hope that the community will understand the need for this.
I’m completely transparent about that as well: it is noted as a line item of each donation. Once the fiscal year is over, I will have a much better sense of my tax liability and I will share that here as well. And in the future, hopefully we can turn this into a real charity, at which point donations would be both tax-deductible and I will not have any personal tax liability to manage this project.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me via tweet or direct message on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rswfire.