I was recently contacted by the editor of another well-known Libertarian media outlet regarding the financial woes almost all of us (Libertarian-anarchist writers, editors and publishers) are dealing with. He wrote:
“What you’re running into, though, I too have heard from several others who are trying to do the same things, or similar, that we are. It’s gotten me thinking, in fact, about alternatives. Individually, none of us are making it all that well (or at all). But together, if we all were on the staff of a MSM publisher, we’d make a pretty solid team. I think it might be worth considering something that brings us all together under a single umbrella. I don’t have a specific plan or proposal, beyond the impression that there might be a better way that would benefit us all. But, I’d definitely be interested in hearing your thoughts on such a possibility, because I’m pretty sure things aren’t going to improve unless we all find a way to make those improvements happen.”
He asked for my thoughts and I reprint them here for public perusal:
I think it’s a capital idea (cue Gomez Addams)… the difficulty lies in realizing it. What’s needed is capital; someone (or a group of someones) with the means to finance such a venture. To pay salaries to writers and editors.
The odious Arianna Huffington was able to become a media juggernaut, not because her writing is good (much less the thoughts behind her words) but because she has extremely deep pockets, courtesy of her divorce from Michael Huffington. If we had someone (or someones) on our side of the fence in a position to do the same basic thing… well, problem solved.
The odd (to me) thing is that even our fellow freedomistas are – for the most part – unwilling to actually support the ideas they support; or rather, to support those who are trying to popularize and spread those ideas. No doubt you’ve experienced the same thing as I. EPautos, for instance, has a very large audience – 80,000 or more visitors each month. If even 5,000 of those share our philosophy, all it would take is 1,000 of them to send in $5 or so a month and the site would be financially stable. Meaning, I could afford to live and commit to making it my full-time job. I could afford help, too. Tech support, copy editors, researchers – other writers – and so on.
But my experience has been that not even 5 percent of the readership will financially support online media. Because it’s just “there” and “free” – as they see it. It is a dynamic peculiar to online publishing. No one would expect to receive a newspaper or magazine without paying for it.
It’s a strange dilemma. On the one hand, the means now exist to circumvent the MSM. To get the anti-authoritarian message out; to get people thinking again. But those of us who have committed ourselves to this effort do so – for the most part – at great personal cost. Which often makes it untenable to continue to do so.
Thus, the MSM wins.
They have the corporate backing. The deep pockets. Goo-guhl.
The only “fix” I see is for people of means on our side of the fence to do exactly what Arianna Huffington did. This could be done via an endowment or foundation, say, that would fund liberty-minded websites or provide “stipends” or “honorariums” to journalists and authors deemed worthy of support. It could even be tax-free. A way for these philanthropists to end-run Uncle while at the same time supporting independent media. Why not? Donations to support government radio – NPR – qualify as tax-free.
But, how do we get there from here?
That is the question!
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