Dear OptersOut,

I hope everyone was able to have a good Native American Heritage Day weekend! I have finally returned to New York from the North Carolina mountains, where I saw my family for the first time in 18 months. I’m grateful for them and for my health, and I know so many people in the U.S. are struggling, whether financially, emotionally, physically, or because they’ve lost loved ones to our largely avoidable and uniquely American health crisis, the result of a broken, for-profit health system and a psychopathic president.

On Thursday, I was particularly moved by the Shinnecock Nation, which concluded a month-long protest in the heart of the Hamptons for their sacred land and their economic rights that day. OptOut co-founder Walker Bragman and Gilded Age co-host Mark Colangelo wrote a great piece about their struggle for The Daily Poster that I suggest everyone read. The Shinnecock Nation has a COVID-19 relief fund that I hope you’ll consider donating to.

The largest gravesite desecration happened in 1891 with the construction of the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club — the same Club that hosted the 2018 U.S. Open, an event from which the Shinnecock did not benefit financially except for being allowed to charge visitors for parking on their land. Untold numbers of gravesites were excavated during construction of the course. As there were no protocols for dealing with ancient remains, Genia explained, many of the bones ended up in trash cans, in people’s attics, or were swept into the golf course’s bunkers.

“These billionaires build their mansions on stolen land,” Genia said, “and play golf on our cemeteries.”

Help Us Opt Out of the Corporate Media

Independent media produced that important story. And while I can’t think of a better use of one’s money than supporting our Indigenous sisters and brothers, I do have another ask.

A handful of powerful mega-corporations own the majority of our news media, and this is a problem. We’re inundated with corporate narratives that jump through hoops to create false equivalences, whitewash reality, and present stenography as journalism. The major news apps bombard us with corporate news sources, and social media companies rake in profits by promoting outrageous, often conspiratorial or hate-based content while stealing revenue from news outlets.

We need a place we can go to get our news that’s completely free of corporate media and corporate greed. That’s what we’re building at OptOut. We’re on schedule to release the beta app in March, and we need your help to make that happen and to maintain it.

So far, we’re completely volunteer. Our strategy team and the great folks at the Progressive Coders Network have put in countless hours without a budget because we believe the world needs OptOut. But as we approach our launch, we need to be able to hire editors and developers to run and improve the app. That’s where you come in.

If you’re not already a paid subscriber to this newsletter, please consider upgrading by contributing $5 per month or $55 per year. Paid subscribers have already helped us cover incorporation, hosting, and other initial fees. By joining the paying supporters, you’ll help us raise money for a real OptOut staff that will keep this project going and improving. Plus, you’ll be first in line to access the beta release, and you’ll get a number of months of premium features at no cost.

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OptOut will be a nonprofit, and we’re waiting to hear from the IRS about our 501(c)(3) application. So if you’re interested in making a larger, tax-deductible donation, stay tuned.

If you’re unable to contribute financially, you can still help us enormously by expanding our reach. Can you send this post to five people you know who might be interested in our project? Can you share this on social media?

Sincerely, thank you for your support in whatever form it may come. That’s enough from me; here’s what some of our media partners, advisers, and volunteers have to say about OptOut!

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“OptOut is one of the few new projects providing a meaningful alternative to existing journalism models. It's led by great journalists doing great, challenging work. Please support them!”

—Maria Bustillos, founder of Popula and the Brick House cooperative and OptOut adviser

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“The technology that OptOut is developing is focused on getting quality original journalism and critical opinions in front of lots of people in ways that will help grow the independent media ecosystem. The 80+ projects that have signed on as partners are a testament that OptOut’s principles are aligned with its varied contributors. Sludge is proud to be a founding member, and we’re excited to read and discover more of our colleagues’ work on the app!”

—David Moore, co-founder of Sludge

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“Our major access point to the world around us is the news. I support OptOut because I don’t want to see that big, beautiful, struggling-to-change world through corporate media-tinted glasses. Independent news is news you can truly trust.”

—Kristen Ablamsky, strategist, innovation designer, and OptOut volunteer

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"It's more important than ever to support independent media, and OptOut has been instrumental in elevating our voices when large platforms suppress our content in favor of mainstream news outlets."

—Mike Figueredo, host of The Humanist Report

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“At a time when monopolies are eating up media competition and manipulating algorithms, it’s vital that grassroots, independent media that fights for working people join in solidarity. As always, this is our greatest strength, and OptOut brilliantly unites and highlights some of the most vital independent media work when we need it most. Please consider joining this collective so we can strengthen independent media while working people and their platforms are under attack.”

—Nomiki Konst, host of The Nomiki Show and OptOut adviser

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“You know what's missing from the news media? Trust and journalistic integrity. Good thing that OptOut is here: the corporate-free news source I trust to uphold that integrity.”

—Sema Hernandez, ProgCode staff member, environmental activist, and community organizer

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