TL;DR: Support our net neutrality coverage
and double your impact right now! »
As I'm sure you remember, a few years ago, the biggest story in the technology world was the fight to protect the internet from dangerous copyright legislation in Congress called SOPA/PIPA. Here at Techdirt, we covered that story top to bottom -- even walking the halls of Congress on January 18th, 2012, the day of the big internet blackout. A study done by Harvard
following that fight, found that Techdirt became "the single most important professional media site over the entire period, overshadowing the more established media."
We've already highlighted how the ongoing fight over net neutrality has some similarities
, in that the threat to the future of the internet may be made by folks in Washington DC who don't fully understand what they're doing. And we'd like to do the same level of blanket coverage we gave to the SOPA/PIPA fight.
But we need your help to do it. And we need it now. Today we've teamed up with BeaconReader, a startup that is leading the way in crowdfunding journalism, to launch a crowdfunding campaign for Techdirt to cover "The Net Neutrality Battle."
You can help by supporting our coverage right now »
Here's the exciting part that is different from most crowdfunding campaigns. Beacon has helped bring together additional donors who have promised to match the first $30,000 in funds (with potentially more on the way -- so stay tuned), so if you support our coverage now you'll double your impact.
Net neutrality is obviously a big story -- but it's one that simply isn't getting that much coverage. A recent Pew study found that earlier this year, even as the debate heated up, it was all but absent from national television news and most major newspapers
. While there was a brief breakthrough moment when John Oliver discussed net neutrality
, even that was somewhat limited (HBO), and not the most nuanced of reports. As Oliver himself noted, the reason that this debate is so dangerous is because often it's been designed to seem boring to the average person
so that they have no idea
what it means and how it will impact them.
We aim to change that as much as possible. We want to be able to take the time and break down every angle of this story: including cutting through much of the rhetoric being spewed about what's happening and what it means. Things like Title II, Section 706 and "forbearance" are confusing and very
deep in the weeds, but actually understanding these things and how they'll impact you
are important. There are many vested interests who know that keeping you bored and confused works to their advantage -- and we're hoping to better educate you, so that you can take part in this debate in an informed manner, calling out bogus claims when you see them, and being able to help others understand the issues as well.
Back that Harvard study, which highlighted just how central Techdirt was to that story, noting that there were more in-links to Techdirt than any other source
concerning SOPA and PIPA:
But here's the part that hasn't been discussed before: covering truly important issues like this, which mostly focus on incumbents trying to stifle upstarts and innovation, is really
bad for paying the bills. Our coverage of SOPA/PIPA cost us dearly. While we had some critics insist the only reason we were covering the story was because of the revenue it brought in, the truth is that we lost a very big advertising deal in large part because of our coverage. In the midst of the fight, we actually had an ad partner contact us to ask if we would "tone down" such "political stuff" on the site. That's not how we work, obviously. We cover what we think is important because we think it's important, and not based on what will attract the most advertising dollars. But, there's a big cost to that. In our case, advertising, which almost always comes from large incumbents, dried up significantly, despite the fact that our traffic basically doubled.
Thankfully, we have the research and consulting side of our business, which helps fund this site, but the site increasingly runs at a loss if you just view it in terms of advertising and sponsorship. We took another hit on that front last month, when we (basically alone among media sites) agreed to go 100% SSL
, to protect your privacy -- which forced us to cut loose a number of ad partners who simply don't want to bother supporting SSL.
For years, though, we've reported on crowdfunding campaigns -- and we've had some success with our own Insider Shop
, but it's not nearly enough for the kind of coverage we'd like to bring to these and other important issues. So that's where this crowdfunding campaign comes in. Beacon is a fascinating startup that is working hard to combine the best concepts of crowdfunding, but with a 100% focus on making it work for journalism
, leading to some unique opportunities. With this campaign, our net neutrality coverage will appear on both Techdirt and Beacon, and supporters will get some specific perks from Beacon as well.
Like all crowdfunding campaigns, this is something of an experiment -- meaning that it's also an opportunity for you to tell us
how important you think net neutrality is as well. We'll obviously cover the unfolding story no matter what, but if we can meet our goal with this campaign, we'll be able to dedicate a lot more resources to making sure that we can truly cover every angle, including following the story to wherever it leads us: whether that's Washington, DC or elsewhere, and adding more voices and more in-depth coverage on what's really
happening and what it really means for you and the future of the internet. The fact that any money pledged now gets immediately doubled by matching donors makes it easy for you to have even more impact right now
We've mentioned ways to supports us in the past, but we've never before made a direct plea to help us out. Today, however, I'm asking if you'll step up and contribute
and enable us to bring you more thorough reporting on the net neutrality fight. The fact that BeaconReader will match your dollars, doubling the impact of every dollar you give, will act as added incentive. Thanks for any possible support you can give.
Once again: Support our net neutrality coverage
and double your impact right now! »