This is the newsletter of OptOut, a free news aggregation app for exclusively independent media that's available for Apple and Android devices. Find out more about the app at optout.news.
Trustworthy news needs your support.
This month we turned two, and we're proud of what we've built—a sophisticated, hand-curated news app downloaded on 10,000 devices, a network of over 150 reliable, independent news outlets, a newsletter we sent to you over 100 times.
But we want to do a lot more—and soon. Next steps include creating a much-needed new set of standards to evaluate the reliability of news, expanding our new climate change program, adding more issue-focused programs, and making big updates to the app. In order to fund these worthy plans for next year, we need to raise $50,000 in individual donations by the end of 2022.
Please consider donating $20, $100, $1,000, or whatever you can here!
For People, Not Profit
In 2020, Walker Bragman and I decided to build a news app totally differently than anyone else was doing it. Yes, we'd find top developers to make a sophisticated product. But that's about all we'd have in common with Apple News, Google News, and the host of other for-profit ventures.
As working journalists, not tech moguls, we understand the pitfalls of a top-down, corporate-sponsored media environment. We want to change the media industry for the better, not make money for ourselves and our investors by running ads and selling user data.
So we went the nonprofit route. For two years now, we've been a nonprofit charity based in New York. And we're beholden to no one; we have no investors expecting returns, no corporate owner to impose bias and growth targets, and no ad model to incentivize shallow content.
Because we did things differently, we're at a financial disadvantage. Every cent we've raised comes from tax-deductible donations. We're not getting ad revenue or venture capital backing, and we haven't even gotten much from foundation grants. We rely almost entirely on you: individuals who believe in what we do and want to help fortify independent media.
Please join our mission to boost independent media, challenge the dominant corporate and legacy outlets, and move things forward towards a stronger democracy, a healthier planet, and a more equitable society.
You can give through this newsletter, PayPal, Venmo, ActBlue Charities, GuideStar, a donor matching service at your employer, or, heck, via check and snail mail. Any amount, any way, we are grateful for your contributions.
Why Should I Support OptOut?
If you subscribe to this newsletter, you already understand that trustworthy, financially independent media are essential for a healthy democracy and positive change. You know that corporate and legacy media fail us all too often by siding with powerful interests, promoting false equivalence, and even creating fossil fuel propaganda:
To make matters worse, for-profit ratings companies such as NewsGuard use faulty methodologies to evaluate the reliability of news outlets, resulting in positive credibility ratings for the Fox News website and even the Tucker Carlson-founded Daily Caller.
We founded the OptOut Media Foundation to address these problems head-on. By putting together a network of hundreds of the best financially independent and trustworthy news organizations and developing a free app and newsletters to distribute their content, we think we can truly change the national narratives that are currently driven by the corporations that own and fund the vast majority of our media today. We want to see a stronger democracy, real action on climate change, equal rights for all people, and an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy. Media—the fourth estate—are an essential part of making any progress on these and many other vital issues.
To move forward with our mission, we need to raise $50,000 over the next few months. We're asking for your help.
Want to join our efforts to strengthen our democracy and advance social justice through ethical media? Then please send your generous, tax-deductible donations our way today.
We're making progress, bit by bit, but we need to jumpstart our work. With an additional $50,000 for next year, we'll be able to ramp up all of our operations and, thus, aid the great news outlets we work with and chip away at the corporate media's dominance.
OptOut began as an entirely volunteer operation. Two years in, we still depend on key volunteers in tech development, management, and editorial, and we're paying others as part-time contractors. This dynamic may need to persist for a while longer, but in the meantime, we need your help to sustain our existing programs and expand our work and impact in 2023.
What our small budget funds today.
- Our talented tech developers, who made the OptOut app and continue to maintain it, add features, and fix bugs.
- Essential digital services such as web hosting, an email client, and app-building tools that make all of this possible.
- Five news curators, who highlight important news items in the app three or more times per day.
- Administrative, strategy, and social media contractors.
- Digital advertising on the Apple App Store, Google platforms, and social media.
- Video ad production.
- A climate editor, who writes a biweekly newsletter and leads our nascent climate program.
- Setting up and maintaining a merch store.
What an addition of $50,000 will allow us to do.
- Pay for more hours of tech development and hire additional contractors as needed so we can develop new app features (news categories and locations, accessibility features, dark mode, and lots more) and fix bugs more quickly. We launched the app as a minimum viable product—a functional app we're proud of, but not nearly what we envision in the end. Some of the features I just listed have been in the works from the beginning, but we need more resources to make them a reality.
- Hire more news curators to expand our diverse team of working journalists who guide your news experience.
- Expand the OptOut network into more U.S. states and cities, more countries, and Spanish-language publications.
- Pay for administrative and communications assistance.
- Hire a talented marketing strategist to grow our brand, work with a professional ad firm to boost our reach big-time, and increase our advertising budget.
- Give our social media staff more time to create content and manage our social communities.
- Expand our climate program by making the climate newsletter more frequent; researching, evaluating, and recruiting more climate-focused outlets for the OptOut network; managing a forum for climate journalists around the world to connect, collaborate, and study the most effective ways to motivate the public on climate issues; and producing original reporting on climate and energy.Fully staff our outlet review committee, which evaluates our current and prospective news organizations for financial independence, accuracy, and other important qualifications. Work on a new framework for assessing the reliability of news producers, as current for-profit companies are failing to do this effectively.
We cannot thank you enough. Onward!
The OptOut Media Foundation (EIN: 85-2348079) is a nonprofit charity with a mission to educate the public about current events and help sustain a diverse media ecosystem by promoting and assisting independent news outlets and, in doing so, advance democracy and social justice.