From Editor Robert Parry: When I founded the Consortiumnews Web site in 1995, I had the rather naïve notion that Americans cared enough about truly independent journalism on important topics that we could raise adequate money for at least a low-budget investigative project based on the then-newfangled Internet.
Yes, I did know that the mid-1990s were a time of mostly brain-dead media, when Ronald Reagan was hailed as one of the greatest presidents and the press corps obsessed over exaggerated “Clinton scandals” – except when cable news went 24/7 over some pretty American blonde woman gone missing.
I also should have paid heed when I encountered resistance from some wealthy individuals who I thought might help. They searched for excuses not to, possibly fearing that our reporting would prove uncomfortable or inconvenient. Some expressed worries about costs, as if journalists weren’t the most reliable people to handle money, especially regarding journalism projects.
Still, I thought the growing triviality of the mainstream press must have left some space in the media marketplace for serious truth-telling, historical context and old-fashioned investigative journalism. So, I pressed ahead, cashing out my Newsweek retirement account (and even paying a penalty to the IRS for the early withdrawal) to raise the money to get the project off the ground.
What we showed then – and have continued to demonstrate for more than 16 years – is that our original vision could work, at least journalistically. We have produced not only quality investigative journalism on a shoestring, but we have generated stories that change how people understand the world, both historically and currently.
Just recently, for instance, I was able to glean from declassified records at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, insights into why the Vietnam peace talks failed in 1968, what then-President Lyndon Johnson knew about Richard Nixon’s “treason,” and who might even have profited from inside knowledge of Nixon’s peace-talk sabotage.
I was able to keep the cost of the entire trip at less than $1,000 – by using my own frequent flyer mileage and traveling on a tight budget. (And there are still more stories to come from the trip.)
Sadly, however, we still struggle to pay the bills at Consortiumnews.com. Despite our careful spending – and our site’s expanding content – our future remains in doubt. While I am proud of how many small donors chip in what they can, I still encounter resistance from many wealthier individuals who have other priorities.
There remains this idea among some potential donors that “the truth will out,” even if there are not honest and determined people fighting to get it out. Yet that is even a more naïve notion than my own early belief that it wouldn’t be that hard to build a “consortium” of people who understood the need to finance courageous journalism.
So, if you can help, please contribute to our spring fund drive, which has set a modest goal of $25,000, but remains more than $23,000 short.
You can make a donation by credit card at the Consortiumnews.com Web site or by check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ); 2200 Wilson Blvd.; Suite 102-231; Arlington VA 22201. Or you can use PayPal (our account is named after our e-mail address “firstname.lastname@example.org”).
Since we are a 501-c-3 non-profit, your donation may be tax-deductible.
You also can choose whether you want your entire donation to go to support our work – or if you’d like one of our thank-you gifts, which we are now offering to anyone who donates at least $50 or who signs up for a monthly donation.
Those gifts include an autographed copy of one of my last three books: Lost History, Secrecy & Privilege or Neck Deep.
Or a DVD of the 1991 PBS “Frontline” documentary “The Election Held Hostage,” which I co-wrote. It explores Republican skullduggery with Iran prior to the pivotal 1980 election.
We also have a few copies left of the late Gary Webb’s book, The Killing Game, and a few DVDs of war correspondent Don’s North’s documentary on the lives of former Salvadoran guerrillas, entitled “Yesterday’s Enemies.” (So, those gifts must be “while supplies last.”)
If you want one of the thank-you gifts, just follow-up your donation with an e-mail to email@example.com. Otherwise, we’ll put your entire donation toward keeping Consortiumnews.com going.
As always, thanks for your support.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 as the Internet’s first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media.