The other day someone donated 1000 euro for a blog-book that I am writing. I am blogging (mostly in Dutch) at a new website (www.nieuwspost.nl) where I am collecting ‘crowdfunding’ for my research for this book. The ‘manager’ of that website wanted to find out who was behind this big anonymous donation. If a third or more of my project is financed by one ‘shareholder’ this can influence my ‘independence’ as a journalist, he argued.
In essence he made exactly the point that I am trying to make with this research project: for media content it must make a difference who owns large shares in the organisation that produces it.
Let’s say for example that the 1000 euro for my project was donated by an idealistic foundation, government or ngo. How would that influence my research? Would I – consciously or unconsciously – take the wishes and demands of these organisation into consideration? I can not guarantee I wouldn’t. But I doubt that any non-for-profit-organisation will donate here, simply because they are too bureaucratic for crowd funding.
So what if the 1000 euro was ‘donated’ by a hedge fund that was my last saviour? Imagine I so much needed the money that I would let them take a majority share. In return the hedge fund would not want my beautiful book, but the payment of dividends (25 %) and high interest rates (15%). I would have to earn so much to pay the hedge fund back, that I would have to get a job on the side. That way I would have no time left for the research itself. Unless – as might be possible – I got myself a research-job-on-the-side.
Anyway, I must now get down to it. I must do the same thing I have asked of the eight Dutch media companies that I’m examining. I must make the identity of my owners and shareholders public. Not easy, because it concerns a family member that does not want to be named and shamed. Fortunately he’s not interested in the return on investment of my blog-book-project. But next time this family-and-friend-owned-business must make sure all big donations are chopped into smaller bits and pieces. (;
After reading the above, do feel free to buy small shares in my (media) corpocracy research project -> http://nieuwspost.nl/projecten/wie-bezit-het-nieuws-deel-2/