The Value of News That Is Paid for by Readers

An editorial by The Wire

Ever since the news broke that Jay Shah, son of BJP president Amit Shah, would be suing The Wire and its editors for criminal and civil defamation for the story we ran on his businesses, we have been flooded with messages of good wishes, encouragement and solidarity.

Not just readers and fellow journalists but citizens from far and wide have written in to express their willingness to help in any way possible.

And they really mean it. Donations have come flooding in to support The Wire and its journalism. It is really heartwarming that people have stepped forward and showed their generosity to a cause they believe is so important – freedom of expression, and the need for a free and fearless media that is ready to ask questions of the powerful.

But some may wonder why we at The Wire want this financial support in the first place. Why are we crowdsourcing our expenses?

The Wire was set up as a not-for-profit venture. It was a radical idea, till then virtually unknown and untried in India. For the first few months after it was launched in May 2015, it ran without any funds in the kitty at all except for the modest investments of its founders. At the time too, our writers showed tremendous generosity by writing for free. Then the funds came, from well-meaning high net-worth individuals and from foundations who saw value in an independent media platform that would not be beholden to any special interests – investors, politicians or businessmen with an agenda.

We are grateful to the large donors, but their contributions do not cover our operating expenses. Donations from readers who like our journalism and want to support it is the only way for us to fill the gap. We see in their willingness to contribute whatever they can, an endorsement of The Wire’s core values – a total commitment to the idea of good journalism of the kind that India needs and deserves. These donations, big and small, have kept us going over the past two years or so and will no doubt help us grow further and expand to further enhance our journalism.

The threat of suits and prosecution will not cow us down. It will only further increase our resolve to speak truth to power, more so at a time when a large section of the media has abdicated its role and responsibilities.

In these challenging times, our appeal for funds is not for litigation as such but to keep The Wire going as a project, in which all have a stake if they believe in  fearless journalism. Your support therefore is invaluable and we thank you for it.