We here at NM HQ would like to extend our very warm thanks to everyone who has contacted us in the last fortnight offering to subscribe or to donate to help keep us afloat. Your support has been overwhelming. It’s fantastic to know that our work is so appreciated by our community of readers — and that there are so many people who share our conviction that independent media outlets like newmatilda.com are vital to the health of a working civil society.
As we count down the days to 25 June, the date when we stop publishing, we thought it was time we gave you an update on our situation, and specifically, an explanation as to why we haven’t jumped to take you up on your generous pledges.
We’ve been bombarded with offers from readers keen to subscribe to a new newmatilda.com, via the comments on the editorial announcing our demise, via email, and via Twitter. We’re certainly not closed to the idea of opening up a subscription model, but after much consideration, the NM staff have decided that we can’t go down that path without an immediate injection of funds from a like-minded investor.
Why? Subscriptions and donations are by nature uncertain revenue sources and we just can’t be sure that they will cover our significant running costs in either the short term or the long term — which, on top of the wages for five staff, include contributor fees, rent, defamation insurance and upgrades to the website, plus incidentals such as hosting fees and office supplies. These things all add up.
We are reluctant to take money from readers for something we may not be able to deliver. If we don’t get enough paid readers quickly, the money we do receive might keep us going for a few more months — but it won’t guarantee our long-term survival. That means that in six months time we could well be in the awkward situation of having to hand money back. Without a cushion of financial backing, our situation is too precarious for us to be able to accept subscriptions in good faith.
And of course, we also need to consider our own job security. It’s been suggested by some that we could cut costs by paying our writers less or by transforming the site into a group blog. It’s also been suggested we recruit a team of volunteer editors or work for nothing ourselves. These are not options we are prepared to entertain.
NM writers are already paid below industry rates and it’s very unlikely that we could attract the quality of content that we do if were to pay nothing at all. We’d like to be able to pay our writers more, not less, for the work that they do researching, writing, and rewriting articles for us.
We have nothing against group blogs but newmatilda.com has never operated on such a decentralised editorial model — and to turn the website into a group blog would fundamentally change its identity. We are a professional outfit and the editorial staff play a vital role in keeping standards high and filling in the gaps. Nothing appears on the site without thorough discussion here in the office and it’s very rare for articles not to pass through a couple of stages of revision. We check facts, we jiggle apostrophes, we make sure no one gets sued. Our writers appreciate this attention and we know that readers would notice immediately if unedited content was posted on the site.
Finally, if we were to convert to a subscription model site, we’d also need to consider putting some of our content behind a paywall. This would mean that regular readers who do not subscribe would simply miss out on some of what we have to offer. Restricting access to content isn’t out of the question but it would entail another realignment of newmatilda.com‘s core identity.
The good news out of all of this is that if an investor were to come on board they wouldn’t necessarily be stumping up large sums of money in the long term — but rather, acting as a buffer while we get back on our feet and work out the answers to some of the questions above.
Over the past fortnight we’ve been contacted by a number of individuals and organisations who are interested in acquiring the newmatilda.com brand and website. However, thus far none of them have made a concrete offer. We are still open to serious inquiries, but time is running out.
In these last two weeks, make sure you get in contact if you think you know someone who can help keep newmatilda.com publishing.
Thanks again for all of your support — and enjoy it while you can!
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