The OptOut Media Foundation will use the funds to jumpstart its news aggregation app and other services to aid uncompromising independent media outlets and educate the public with articles, podcasts, and videos that news consumers can count on.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 5, 2022
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Brooklyn, N.Y. — The OptOut Media Foundation, a new nonprofit charity and tech startup, has received a three-year, $150,000 commitment from donor Scott Satterwhite that will jumpstart its mission to educate the public by promoting financially independent, trustworthy news content.
Founded by reporters Alex Kotch and Walker Bragman in August 2020, OptOut worked with the Progressive Coders Network to develop a sophisticated news aggregation app that distributes articles, podcasts, and videos from a network of over 120 independent media outlets. The app is now available for iOS devices, and as of Monday afternoon, it ranked 19th in the Magazines & Newspapers category on the Apple App Store, ahead of USA Today, The New Yorker, and The Guardian. It will soon be available for Android devices.
"Scott’s donation is a game changer," said OptOut Media Foundation Executive Director Alex Kotch, an investigative reporter whose work has been published by dozens of outlets including The Guardian, The Nation, and Vice. "We needed someone to put their faith in us and make a major commitment to get our operations into high gear. That’s what Scott did," he said.
"This money will allow us to expand our budget as we transition from a volunteer organization into a sustainable nonprofit," continued Kotch. "That means enhanced administration, communications, and research, more tech development and data analysis, a bigger marketing budget, new themed newsletters, and a committee that will review our network outlets annually for compliance with our rigorous standards."
Participating outlets are selected for the app based on financial independence, editorial focus, and other factors. The newsrooms range from small Substack newsletters to independent media pillars such as The American Prospect, In These Times, and Jacobin, podcasts including Citations Needed and Means Morning News, and video channels such as Democracy at Work, The Humanist Report, and Tim Black TV. The OptOut Media Foundation is focused on ethical media that report on the issues that truly matter in people’s lives, with a special emphasis on outlets led by people from traditionally marginalized communities.
Satterwhite recently retired from a long career in the investment management industry to focus on social justice through philanthropy, politics, and impact investing.
"The internet revolution that began in the early nineties materially disrupted media business models, putting significant financial strain on the industry," said Satterwhite. "The result over time has been that America’s 'fourth estate' has come to be controlled by fewer and fewer organizations that serve interests that don’t always align with a strong democracy.
"Underneath this wave, however, has been a growing movement of high quality, independent journalism that is telling the stories of communities that have been left out by the mainstream trends in the industry," Satterwhite said. "These new efforts must be lifted up and supported financially, operationally, and by wider, scalable distribution so that more people can be informed. OptOut News has been created to address this need for wider distribution.
"In providing this needed infrastructure for independent media, it simultaneously offers people a wider, more genuine, and often more truthful exposure to the stories of communities they may never encounter in their daily lives. This is a wonderfully elegant solution to growing blind spots in the American experience. I’m an avid supporter."
In addition to Satterwhite’s commitment, OptOut has benefited from individual donations by newsletter subscribers, and it received a grant from The Puffin Foundation last year to hire news curators for the app.
"It’s difficult for independent news outlets to cut through the corporate media narratives that dominate our discourse," said Kotch. "But together, with our many outlets and growing audience, we will impact the national conversation."
Kotch and the OptOut team are available for interviews.
Watch a short feature on OptOut from network outlet The Rational National.
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.
Progressive Coders Network is a 501(c)(3) community of activists who build open source tools to empower the grassroots, get money out of politics, and dismantle systems of oppression.