Supporting New Internationalist

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Supporting New Internationalist

As news media have problems with readers’ trust, there is another way forward with reader support, Chris Spannos writes:

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Commuters sit in front of an advertisement against fake news, at a train station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 28 March 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

US Senators questioned Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg before Congress on 10 April 2018. They asked how he could keep a business model in which users don't pay for services.

Calmly Zuckerberg answered, 'Senator, we run advertisements.' The way he answered and the music of his voice, which began lower on the word 'Senator' and moved higher on the word 'advertisements', showed contempt. As in: 'Senator Dinosaur, how could you possibly be so stupid as to ask that question?'

But asking how a business model can work if users don't pay for services is reasonable, even if the answer may seem so obvious. But the answer is not obvious. Zuckerberg was there to explain why his social media puts profits before user safety. This was an issue in the selling of advertisements, which sometimes sell illegal products and services, and after news that Cambridge Analytica used people’s Facebook data illegally to help US president Donald Trump win the election.

Facebook, like Google, Amazon, and the other big digital companies, is not free for users. There is a cost. As we say, if you have to ask what they're selling, you're the one they are selling. Here, the cost is user privacy and safety. The user is what they sell.

But this raises an important problem for ethical companies like our New Internationalist, which does not put profit before users.

Our idea is to produce independent journalism that looks at injustice and holds people responsible. These are people who are not usually held responsible. Our journalism is free for our users, and it doesn’t matter how rich one reader may be. We want to keep it that way, but our journalism costs money.

Producing our reports costs time and money, for example, the reports which showed poor working conditions on secret US military bases, and Bahrain’s brutal actions against opposition forces before Princess Diana’s Royal visit in 1986.

We don't sell our readers to terrible companies like Cambridge Analytica or to advertisers to cover costs. So, we ask you, our readers, to take action. This is why we ask for support on all the pages on our website.

If you believe that we produce valuable journalism, that many people should read, give us your support.

You can make a monthly contribution for as little as the price of a cup of coffee or a bus ride. It only takes a minute.

Please support us.

Thank you,

Chris Spannos, Digital Editor and Co-Director, for the New Internationalist Co-operative.

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NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2018/05/25/support-new-internationalist

(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed)