OptOut is ending the summer season with big news! We will soon be doing a full launch of a our own reporting outfit. Important Context, OptOut co-founder Walker Bragman's newsletter, will serve as the foundation for this new venture, which we hope to expand later.
The transition, which will take place in the near future, is a natural one given that Important Context and OptOut frequently cross-publish anyway.
Together, we have done critical reporting on disinformation and money in politics, especially on stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, our work has exposed astroturf groups like Moms For Liberty and Parents Defending Education, which arose amid amid a national fight over COVID safety in schools and quickly became central players in the culture wars. Not only did our reports provide readers with a window into the kind of money fueling the so-called "parents' rights movement," we have been able to identify where some of that funding is coming from.
Similarly, we published a report on the inner workings of the political influence network of exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, which was later cited in Mother Jones. We revealed how the Guo's operatives were planting favorable stories about him in conservative media outlets.
The work Important Context does fits within OptOut's mission to inform and engage our readers by distributing stories that are often overlooked or misrepresented in the traditional news business. A recent report, for example, revealed the funding behind major right-wing media outlets–and the overlap between the work they do and the funders' economic interests.
Currently, our plan is to fold OptOut Originals, where our reported work is published, into Important Context. The main OptOut newsletter, meanwhile, will continue to serve as a roundup, but all original reporting will go through our new outlet. More details will follow in the coming weeks!