Trump vows to shutter Humanosphere for not making America first

A mostly serious appeal for support from the publisher


Did you know? Humanosphere is the only independent, non-profit news site in the U.S. that is solely focused on worldwide efforts to reduce extreme poverty and inequity.

Now, more than ever, we need your help. Donate Now

Sure, that headline is a joke, so far anyway. What’s not a joke is that we are in danger. Sorry to be blunt, but we need money if we are going to keep on doing what you want us to do. It’s Giving Tuesday so it seems like a good time to ask for your support.

Here at Humanosphere, we believe in doing the kind of reporting that breaks down walls and creates understanding. In this increasingly interconnected yet often fragmented world, what we need are more bridges between communities and between countries. These days, our mission has never seemed more important.

We’ve already achieved great things. Humanosphere, launched as a one-person NPR pilot project in 2010, is now an independent, influential news site with diverse content and a full-time editorial staff. Traffic has grown substantially. Our reporting on international aid and development frequently leads the mainstream media. We break stories and bring attention to neglected issues. We’re making a difference.

But we now face two serious existential crises.

The first is the media itself: As an industry, it is struggling – imploding at its core – for lack of a viable business model. Newspaper jobs have been almost cut in half since the 1990s due to financial losses. Fake news often makes more money per word than real news. The Oxford English Dictionary folks have named ‘post-truth’ the word of the year.

The second existential threat is the rise of isolationism, jingoism and xenophobia. All kinds of walls are going up. The U.S. election is, unfortunately, hardly an outlier. Put simply, and oxymoronically, extreme nationalism and isolationism are trending globally.

What we need is more journalism focused on the world as community.

So, yeah, we are biased: We think global poverty and inequity is bad, for everyone. There are some good economic, political and moral arguments that can be made to persuade you that reducing poverty and inequity benefits everyone, but I can’t do that now. I’m too busy trying to find the folks with money who already know this is true.

Our fund-raising goal for next year is a mere $200,000. We are looking for donors who will support our brand of unique, independent journalism. We want to build on our success by expanding staff, diversifying content, reaching even more readers and knocking down more walls!

We are a non-profit organization that depends on donors for support. Humanosphere has been lucky to find support from a handful of generous foundations and donors. But this has been a challenging year.

Imagine what it’s like asking philanthropists and foundations for money to support a news operation that exists, in part anyway, to hold them more accountable and sometimes critique their work. It can be a hard sell and, well, it has been.

I see plenty of stories and media organizations cheerleading for good causes, which we also do when deserved. And that’s great! We need champions for humanitarian causes and success stories. But what’s often missing are stories that dig a bit deeper beyond, say, the generous billionaire who wants to give back, the personal and anecdotal ‘triumph over adversity’ tale or the latest white-coated project targeting the disease du jour.

Here at Humanosphere, we see this impoverished aid narrative as part of the problem. Fighting poverty and inequity is not about charity; it’s not an option. It should be seen as a necessary investment – in peace, stability, prosperity and our future.

But if we don’t find investment, additional support, we will have to accept that our ambitious, entrepreneurial adventure has run its course. We don’t have the money to hire a development staff; all our time and money goes into content. Yes, we’d like to invest in creating a more sustainable business model, something even big media has trouble achieving. But we already provide more bang for the buck! Just look at this site. Wow! Yay team!

So please consider donating and also help put us in touch with those who have the resources and desire to support our mission of making global poverty and inequity more newsworthy.

We even have some Humanosphere caps we’d be happy to send to easily-reached-by-mail (US-based, tomhat-3mostly) donors who can give at least $100 and/or otherwise facilitate our survival by connecting us with funders. Yeah, we know it’s a goofy pitch. But if it gets us enough money to make it through this rough patch, well okay then. Feel free to contact me directly for more info.

Sincerely, thanks for your support!

Tom Paulson, founder and publisher

info@humanosphere.org

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About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.