Independent Media is Dead?

There’s a nasty rumor going around: Have you heard it?

Independent media is dead.

The death certificate was signed about a year ago, around the time that Ira Glass of This American Life fame ditched independence in style. We have to quote him, because no paraphrase does it justice:

“My hope is that we can move away from a model of asking listeners for money and join the free market… [Public radio is] ready for capitalism, which made this country so great.”

The thing is, it wasn’t totally surprising to hear one of public radio’s foremost voices throw in his lot with big media. Ira’s feelings weren’t one-sided. Oh no, no, no.

For the last few years, we’ve watched in awe as corporations and venture capitalists lined up with piles of cash, ready to “invest in” media to solve the “problem” of reader-supported outlets.

And we’ve got to be honest: While outlets like Buzzfeed and Vox popped up around us with gorgeous sites and skyrocketing traffic, we wondered if continuing to fly the flag of independent media made sense.

The waterfall of well-funded media startups swept through upstart feminist projects, too: When the Hearst Corporation bought Lena Dunham’s decidedly feminist Lenny Letter, and when Vice Media reached out to let us know they’d be starting a new feminist vertical, Broadly, we started sweating.

How would we ever keep up? What would happen to Bitch?

Sure, we’ve been here for 20 years, but could we really expect to stick around when we were up against shiny new outlets sitting on mountains of cash? How many times could we be the site that wasn’t featuring an exclusive interview with a presidential candidate or a personal essay from an A-list feminist celebrity before we were left in the dust completely?

In all of the uncertainty, we only knew one thing for sure: We would rather stop publishing altogether than follow Ira Glass into his brave not-so-new world of corporate funded media. Because you know what? In the fast-shifting media landscape, one thing hasn’t changed for a second: Capitalism isn’t about equality. It isn’t about social progress. It’s about profits.

The bottom line is that simple.

At their core, corporations, brands, and venture capitalists are not our friends. They’re not in the social-movement business. They’re not in the feminism-can-change-the-world-business. They’re in the moneymaking business.

And at Bitch Media, our feminism is not for sale.

Though we have always had to keep a very close eye on our day-to-day finances, for 20 years, our bottom line has been measured by one thing: Are we fulfilling our mission to provide an uncompromising feminist response to mainstream media and pop culture?

So where are we now? Well, since independent media is dead and all—and we decided to stay the independent course—this might come as the real shocker:

Our monthly membership program is thriving. We mail more magazines to print subscribers than we have in years, and the 20th anniversary issue of Bitch magazine just sold out. Eight thousand listeners tune into our podcasts each week. Readers are spending more time paging through features on our site than ever before. And our Bitch on Campus program is in demand around the world.

The Bitch community has never been more engaged than it is today!

We’re not moving away from our reader-supported model because we’re not interested in reporting profit margins back to venture capitalists or answering to corporations that want to run ads that lean on empowertisment in their messaging. We're interested in making award-winning feminist media.

But that also means that when it’s crunch time, there’s nowhere else to turn but our readers.

This month, we have to raise $50,000 in reader support in order to continue on our independent path.

We're sending a special “My Feminism Is Not For Sale” sticker, pictured below, along with every single donation, new membership, or subscription. So if you’re with us—if you think keeping Bitch independent is essential to the media we create—please do one of the following today:

1. Become a member of the B-Hive at Bitch! Membership starts at just $5 a month and includes a subscription to Bitch magazine in print and digital along with other benefits like our Bitch crest mug!

2. Subscribe to Bitch magazine or renew a subscription for 20 percent off. Our award-winning print quarterly offers 80 pages of feminist analysis on pop culture and hard-to find reviews!

3. Make a tax-deductible donation today! Can you pitch in $25? A contribution of any size will help us reach our goal!

We’re not turning a profit. But by all indicators that matter to a nonprofit, independent feminist media outlet, we are changing the world.

There’s no nuance to this: For Bitch, $50,000 is a make-or-break amount of money. Today and every day through May 31 has to be big or we’ll miss our goal.

Please help us kick off this crucial campaign with the momentum we need to succeed: Become a member at Bitch and get your free My Feminism Is Not For Sale sticker today!

In solidarity,

Andi Zeisler, Cofounder              Julie Falk, Executive Director

PS: Here's the free sticker: We can't wait to see where you post it! Plus, you get other really snazzy Bitch Media merch and a subscription to Bitch magazine when you become a member, too. 

by Andi Zeisler
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Andi Zeisler is the cofounder of Bitch Media and the author of We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. You can find her on Twitter.

by Julie Falk
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Julie Falk has been the Executive Director of Bitch Media since 2009.

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