The following is a letter sent by Michael Albert to the ZNet Update list…
The folks at The NewStandard need our help.
I have spent years working to get people thinking about alternative economics, and especially the vision of parecon. A high point of this type work occurs whenever people not only begin to relate to the ideas of participatory economics, but put some of the principles into practice. But this is no easy task.
It runs up against our prior expectations and training. It runs up against all that we see around us about how to work in a business. It runs up against our family’s expectations, our friends, and even our own, for how we live our lives. It runs up against the pressures of banks, granters, and competitive exchange. It is anti-greed amidst greediness. It is anti-elitist amidst elitism. It is bottom up amidst top down. It fosters enriched democracy amidst authoritarianism.
Imagine trying to build sustainability and stewardship amidst polluted priorities. Imagine trying to create justice amidst criminality. Imagine trying to foster feminism amidst patriarchy. Imagine trying to establish multi-culturalism amidst Jim Crow racism.
The NewStandard (TNS), an online, hard news publication, does all that.
We live in a class-divided, class-ruled economy – and yet the folks at TNS are incredibly busy creating a classless project. It is not easy to exist in a sea of venality. We all know that. To create a flourishing island of liberation in that sea, that promotes liberation for self and others, as well, is a very difficult undertaking.
TNS’s radical priorities contest markets, management structures, and ownership relations. For TNS’s members to build their pareconish institution has been hard and I am writing to ask you to please turn your eyes to The NewStandard and to the folks there who have already created a progressive online newspaper, and who have already formed one of the most promising pareconish models I am aware of, but who need help to continue.
TNS was started by two members of the Z family, Brian Dominick and Jessica Azulay, who have been, and remain, instructors at the Z Media Institute. These folks are friends of mine. I admit, and that probably affects my view of them, raising my impression from thinking they are outstanding to thinking they are beyond superlative. But there is no subjectivity in my noticing and letting you know that they are incredibly hard working and devoted students, teachers, and exemplars of not only the best of alternative media, but also the best of creating seeds of the future in the present. And there is no subjectivity in my hearing and conveying on to you that they are confronting deadly financial woes. And there is no subjectivity, either, in wondering, can we help them? It is a material issue. It is an issue of our will and our means.
Over the past three years, the collective behind TNS has expanded from two to six members. They have maintained balanced job complexes. They have received the same pay for comparable effort regardless of seniority, age, race, and gender. They have practiced self management.
And TNS now faces a turning point. Are they going to preserve and enlarge their achievements, building their media project further, or are they going to pass into history, an exemplar that didn’t get enough support to become a permanent part of left creativity?
Even setting aside that TNS is a unique journalistic venture that attempts to challenge mainstream news outlets at their own game of providing hard, primary-source news as compared to the commentary/analysis featured by most leftist sites, and that it deserves help on those grounds, TNS also deserves our help because its staff is putting into practice a model that challenges the very structure of mainstream businesses.
Like Z, TNS rejects advertising and refuses to sell its readership to the highest bidder. TNS doesn’t accept foundation grants, because they want to remain free of the strings foundations typically attach to such offers. Truly independent media like TNS is very rare, not least because it is so hard to sustain financially. There is no bank that TNS can go to for millions upon millions of dollars to grow to become bigger than the Associated Press. It has to do that the hard way, against all the odds.
The NewStandard’s funding model is similar to ZNet’s Sustainer Program – TNS asks for people to join and donate on a recurring basis. This provides TNS the stability they need to plan ahead.
Why I am writing to you today, and what I am asking of you today, is that you please consider becoming a member of TNS.
Please consider putting your support behind TNS’s dual mission of providing daily news from a people’s point of view and running an organization in pursuit of the better world we’re all trying to create.
You can find TNS at: http://newstandardnews.net
You can pledge to donate at: http://newstandardnews.net/pledge
Together, we can keep them online.