Dear fellow Daily Maverick traveller,
Re: Graduate to Maverick Insider
It is no secret the last decade has been one of huge upheaval and turmoil in the news media.
Globally, the internet is wreaking havoc in the very space it was meant to liberate – free thought and pure truth. The rise of platforms like Facebook and Google changed reader behaviours and swallowed up a majority of the ad revenues that used to sustain our newsrooms. Print newspapers are being decimated in real time, mostly because what once was their lifeblood, classifieds, have been all but wiped out by the cheap, or free, online postings.
During that same time in South Africa we saw a new President take charge, resulting in unprecedented attack on our state, economy and fundamental freedoms we’ve come to appreciate so much.
In other words, the last ten years were not exactly the best times to start an independent digital media company.
The awesome power of the Internet and global social connection was supposed to be used for good and the benefit of the human kind. We somehow forgot that the same power could be developed into a terrifying force, weaponised to ruin things we hold dear.
Truth itself is now under attack from all sides. Truth is not truth. Red is Blue. Up is Down. Good is Bad. Less is More. And facts can be alternative.
Poorly paid & barely protected, journalists are sometimes the last line in the defence of democracy, fairness, or future. We live in a time where Presidents are literally calling journalists an enemy of the people and harassment of journalists is all too common. Journalists all over the world are under attack, both verbally and physically.
And yet, we keep fighting.
These days, business leadership in South Africa means writing a strongly worded letter of disappointment when finance ministers get fired or another major corruption scandal is unearthed.
Silence and inaction yield a breeding ground for bad things to happen when good people do nothing. In the past, news media could rely on local advertising support from business to fight on behalf of the public, but these days billions in digital advertising rands leave the country into Irish tax haven companies without getting taxed and without attracting VAT, while genuine media is in a death spiral.
In South Africa, for years it was that anything with a hint of political content had the commercial equivalent of ebola – except of course the erstwhile New Age ’empire’, SABC and not-so Independent newspapers.
“Great job guys, love your work, but you’re too political for our brand to be associated with”.
“Can you imagine if we were not political?”
The truth is, we can only rely on a few brave brands for support but that just isn’t enough to sustain the work we do.
Soon Daily Maverick will be 9 years old. We’ve made it this far thanks to gracious grant funders and donors and the most understanding shareholders ever, who believed in the impact we could achieve. But for Daily Maverick to be sustainable, we must now turn to our readers for support.
So we’re launching Maverick Insider, a community for readers who care deeply about the public interest journalism we do and the way it affects our common future.
We need to do this for several reasons but first and foremost so that we can continue the work which helped expose Marikana, the SARS wars and the #GuptaLeaks, to name but a few.
We firmly believe that, should you decide to become a Maverick Insider, the biggest benefit is that your support will keep Daily Maverick, Scorpio and Zapiro free to access for everyone. Good journalism is public service – we fulfil our side of it every day. Will you be part of it?
For the last 9 months we’ve been studying various reader revenue models from around the world and we’ve settled on one that will bring greater focus and effort on engagement with you, on sharing a common purpose, and helping to shape our trajectory.
Maverick Insider is more than just asking for financial support. It’s about how we can move from serving our readers content to also creating a community, around unique experiences with you, and for you.
We truly do not believe that only those with money should have access to our daily opus. We worked long and hard to create this online daily. We watched it grow to the heights we never dared dream of. We loved our journey and we loved sharing it with an ever bigger number of readers. We strongly believe that people who can’t afford to pay should still need, and deserve, to have full access to the truth, every day.
That’s why, unlike other models of reader support, we won’t be blocking access to our articles.
If you’re convinced, becoming a member is simple: Just click on this Maverick Insider link and choose your level of monthly, or annual, support. Apart from helping us keep Daily Maverick excellent, you will also enjoy other great benefits from your membership – from ad-free browsing (coming soon) to special newsletters, from access to members-only events to being able to comment on our stories (also coming soon), from preferential tickets to The Gathering to Q&A sessions with our top journalists and editors. Some of which will be made available and announced in the coming days and weeks.
In keeping with our public service commitment, you can choose how much you can afford to become a Maverick Insider and whether to pay monthly or annually. We’re building a better community here, not the one based on checkbook access.
Never forget: South Africa is a poor country – it will become even poorer if its people are not well informed.
Sometimes our work can be a scary, lonely place. Last year really brought that home when we used to run drills expecting the Hawks to raid our offices or when a suspicious car crash happened. It takes a special kinda crazy to run towards the fire when everyone is running the other way.
We’re committed to that task. We just can’t do it alone and we don’t want to do it alone – we need you to join us for this incredible adventure called Daily Maverick. DM
Watch Pauli van Wyk’s Cat Play The Piano Here!
No, not really. But now that we have your attention, we wanted to tell you a little bit about what happened at SARS.
Tom Moyane and his cronies bequeathed South Africa with a R48-billion tax shortfall, as of February 2018. It's the only thing that grew under Moyane's tenure... the year before, the hole had been R30.7-billion. And to fund those shortfalls, you know who has to cough up? You - the South African taxpayer.
It was the sterling work of a team of investigative journalists, Scorpio’s Pauli van Wyk and Marianne Thamm along with our great friends at amaBhungane, that caused the SARS capturers to be finally flushed out of the system. Moyane, Makwakwa… the lot of them... gone.
But our job is not yet done. We need more readers to become Maverick Insiders, the friends who will help ensure that many more investigations will come. Contributions go directly towards growing our editorial team and ensuring that Daily Maverick and Scorpio have a sustainable future. We can’t rely on advertising and don't want to restrict access to only those who can afford a paywall subscription. Membership is about more than just contributing financially – it is about how we Defend Truth, together.
So, if you feel so inclined, and would like a way to support the cause, please join our community of Maverick Insiders.... you could view it as the opposite of a sin tax. And if you are already Maverick Insider, tell your mother, call a friend, whisper to your loved one, shout at your boss, write to a stranger, announce it on your social network. The battle for the future of South Africa is on, and you can be part of it.
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