Most people who read this blog know I produce content for Newsbud, a news operation founded by whistleblower and activist Sibel Edmonds. Newsbud’s content is exclusive to subscribers. Because of this, it does not depend on advertising and foundation grants. It is not controlled by outsiders who may influence content or withhold funding in the event they disagree with a certain political stance.
But there is a problem with this business model.
Many people who use the internet are accustomed to getting their content for free. Of course, this isn’t true because hosting a website costs money, so the “free” sites are forced to glut their pages with increasingly obnoxious advertising, much of it offensive and pandering to sex, celebrity gossip, and sensationalism in order to pay the bills.
Since most people don’t like obnoxious advertising, they install ad blocking software which creates problems for websites depending on this sort of advertising. Many sites have reacted to this by refusing to allow access unless users agree to be whitelisted, that is to say they agree to allow advertising.
The “news for free”—which is not free—business model is doomed to failure. It cannot be sustained unless we want to endure increasingly aggressive and obnoxious advertising fighting for our attention and distracting us from news and information.
The subscriber model is the only logical and practical model out there. If we want alternative media free of foundations and large transnational corporations that shape political output, we will have to pay for it.
But there is a far larger and more ominous threat to alternative media—the move by the establishment to close us down altogether.
Since the election, alternative media has been increasingly targeted as Russian propaganda, hate speech, racist, xenophobic, and extremist. Social media has faced intense pressure from the government to eliminate “fake news”—that is to say, alternative news at variance with the establishment narrative. A number of popular social media personalities, primarily from the conservative side of the political spectrum, have had their Facebook and Twitter accounts closed down or have faced total banishment from social media platforms.
Youtube channels have disappeared because producers made politically incorrect remarks or entertained conspiracy theories. For instance, “crisis actors” allegedly involved in mass shooting incidents.
Larger alternative media websites are facing defamation lawsuits—a primary example, Infowars is facing lawsuits initiated by the families of Sandy Hook victims. Alternately, conservative talk radio is facing a number of advertiser boycotts that threaten the medium’s livelihood.
If the Democrats take control of the government later this year, this campaign of censure and persecution will intensify. The DNC recently filed an outrageous lawsuit against Russia, Trump, WikiLeaks and a number of individuals claiming they conspired to get Trump elected. This lawsuit, of course, is absurd and will likely be thrown out, but its propaganda value is priceless.
Make no mistake—alternative media is under attack. If we don’t step up and support our most valued news organizations, they will likely perish due to financial unsustainability or direct attack from the government and political enemies. It should be taken as a given alternative media outlets will be excluded from social media, thus drastically reducing visibility to a larger audience. We should also support those who are establishing alternative social media platforms.
The only alternative is to support and finance the news and information websites we consider valuable. Short of that, we can expect Newsbud and other sites to fail, leaving in place a corporate propaganda media that reads from government scripts.