I keep getting asked whether or not I’m going to Podcast and New Media Expo in Ontario California. I guess its time to let the cat out of the bag. Alive in Baghdad and Alive in Mexico, the two entities which are part of Small World News, have been on life support since the end of July, when Next New Networks decided three months was enough time to see if Alive in Baghdad: Uncut could sink or swim. Apparently it couldn’t. We understand that NextNew might not be the best place for AiB, and that the news doesn’t make money, but we’ve been hoping we could find some killer deal that would keep us going.
Really we’ve been on life support longer than that. Although we had a huge windfall when we licensed some of our content to SkyNews, BBC Newsnight, and CurrentTV, we’ve not been able to repeat those deals or bring in anything similar.
We’ve been consistently told that our content is some of the most serious and respectable work being done in web video. We’ve also been consistently told that no one wants to sponsor it or advertise against it, because its too much of a downer, among other reasons. We had one sponsorship, from PNN.com, who wasn’t afraid to be associated with hard journalism in the fun and geeky web video world. This lasted 3 months, and was brought to us with much appreciation from blip.tv.
So we’ve initiated a program of voluntary paid subscriptions, where our viewers can choose to give us 5, 10, or 25 dollars per month, because they felt our work was important, necessary, and worth paying for. Particularly we expected it might be worth paying for in an age where the consumer doesn’t have to pay for the news, because it is already bought and paid for, by advertisers, corporations, and others.
Now its September 25th, and when our bills come due on October 1st, we’ll be out of money. We’ve been paying ourselves a meager salary to get by because we do this full-time, while also paying a fluctuating staff of 5-8 overseas in Iraq and Mexico, between our translator, Baghdad bureau chief, and correspondents. It seems our big failure is that we are ahead of our time. Less flatteringly, neither did we have enough business sense to have a model for making money before we tried to change the quality of video journalism available online. There may be media democracy for the wealthy and privileged of the first world, but they appear unwilling to pay a few dollars to support that democracy in the developing world.
We’re still hoping that our viewers will come through and provide monthly support to us on a voluntary basis. Our correspondents want to keep producing their videos, providing the world a window into life in Baghdad. Without a monthly salary however, it will become very difficult for the sons, brothers, and fathers, who bring you Alive in Baghdad each week to continue their work.
Ask yourself, do you want to know what’s going on in Iraq? Do you want to have a way to see inside life in Baghdad? Do you think its important to hear about the war from the civilians affected in Iraq? If you answered yes to any of these, can you afford to skip a beer each month, or a few gallons of gas, or a movie? If you still answered yes, then sign up here for a voluntary subscription donation to Alive in Baghdad. If you can’t do that, in the near future you may need to find another Iraq video blog to subscribe to.