A British news agency boss has today unveiled what he claims is a model for sustainable, independent journalism, free from advertising and PR.
The project, NewsX, is a Community Interest Company registered in the UK, which means its purpose is not profit, its purpose is the community. The company has this basic principle – where its revenue pays for journalism – enshrined in its articles of association.
With its unveiling, NewsX has entered a struggling media marketplace determined to build a much-needed global network of reporting teams that will provide content to publishers free from advertising, PR and marketing.
NewsX as a news organisation serving communities plans to either create communities where coverage is needed or work with existing communities. Every community is based around a virtual newsroom with qualified professionals working with people in the community to generate content, and share it in the NewsX Exchange.
The company pledges that partners providing content in exchange for following these values can use the news exchange to monetise it, and 100% of any sales for the usage will paid to the contributor.
Founder Mike Leidig said: “We are not seeking to become something new to replace what already exists. What we want to do is recreate the network of local publications and specialist media that once provided the vast majority of the content that populated the media landscape, but has been lost over the past few decades.
“But our virtual newsrooms are not going to create echo chambers or run fan clubs for the communities they represent. The job is to challenge and question and include both sides in every story.
“Increasingly one-sided journalism is a major part of the extreme polarisation in society. Content that we accept from our community newsrooms needs to be balanced and offer alternate opinions, and all content that comes into the NewsX network will be checked for balance before being shared.
“As a student of history, I know that it is all too often a strong opposition or challenge that allow us to grow strong, and at NewsX, we embrace opposites on all levels of our reporting.
“But at the same time for all of our opposites, we have a shared value in journalism which binds us together.”
He added that he regarded it as one of the strengths of NewsX that it does not not want to be pigeonholed into left or right, tabloid or quality, local or international, broadcast or print or any of the other extremes that can currently be applied to most media organisations.
He said: “Only by being all sides and not a lukewarm middle of the road that pleases nobody agency can we service all media, and once we open the door to what content publishers do want, they will also see content they usually don’t want, and may well find to their surprise that this also does well with their followers in their echo chambers.”
But he said a willingness to write good things about for example Donald Trump when merited does not win you plus points with bodies awarding grants, and likewise, a refusal to accept advertising or PR-funded content was a turnoff for investors.
But the plus side is that having come into being without any investors, there are no dividends to be paid to siphon the money away from the journalists that earned it, and there is also no grant body to demand worthy journalism to justify the funds to continue.
Leidig said: “NewsX is there to challenge and take on the biggest bully in the playground. We want to have an almost infinite number of contributors, whose only chance of working with us depends on continuing to provide accurate and balanced reporting. And on the other side, we want to build an infinite network of publishers to ensure our news can never be controlled.
“In the process, we don’t care who we offend, because to quote Oscar Wilde, it isn’t journalism if it is not offending someone.
“Our strength is that somewhere there will always be one among the many accredited contributors that want to tell the story, and there will always be one among the many media partners that want to publish it.”