For some time now, we've had an "Iraq in Crisis" section that was the most we could scrape together in terms of Middle East coverage. As good as it has been, we've long wanted to expand, so today we take our first major step -- a leap of faith, really -- in that direction since well over a year ago. We are now covering the conflict in Israel/Palestine with on-the-ground reporting and investigative journalism.
In order to make this work, however, we are going to need a whole lot of fresh support from people who value truly independent media (as in, no ads, no investors, no foundations, no strings).
As you can see from the byline on our main story today, Canadian photojournalist Jon Elmer is in Israel and Palestine writing exclusively for TNS. Jon is already putting the finishing touches on a second story from the West Bank, and his plate if full for many more, while we try our best to convince the Israeli government to accredit Jon and give him access to Gaza and other "closed military zones." (More on that soon.)
We also hope to still have some surprise coverage from the ground in Baghdad. Although the danger and expense involved in operating openly there has rendered the work highly prohibitive to our journalists, we did manage to gather a significant amount of face-to-face interviews we hope to put into two original stories this month. So we will do our best, but reportage from Iraq will continue to be sparse as long as the security situation is so completely out of hand.
In any case, we are taking a big risk by re-launching our Middle East coverage with reinvigorated Iraq reporting and now coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict. We cannot sustain the increased work -- which means more editing time and more professional journalists -- unless we receive a substantial influx of new donations from new members. If you have been reading TNS for a while, or if you're just running into our Middle East coverage and think you'd like to see more of it -- please don't assume someone else is picking up the tab. This kind of reporting can only be done by a noncommercial news organization, and that means we need YOUR generous support.
We need about 250 new members this month to keep this coverage alive, and we will only meet that goal with your help. If you are already donating, we need you to spread the word about TNS to your friends and encourage them to join. Remember, when you refer members to us, we give you credits to spend on independent media on our e-store.
If you wish, you can make a one-time donation to give us a boost at this crucial juncture. But what we would prefer is that Basic Members or non-members become Premium Members and start contributing an affordable amount on a monthly basis. (The average monthly donation from our current members is just $10. Please take a moment to think about whether supporting a collective, nonprofit, and truly independent media outlet is worth about the cost of a pizza to you.)
The challenge fund started by Noam Chomsky is still in effect, thanks to generous support from him and others who want to see TNS grow and flourish. This means all new members will see their first month's donation TRIPLED by matching funds if they pledge to donate for a year! You can also receive e-store credits to spend on books, magazine subscriptions and other premiums.
In 18 months of publishing, we have produced nearly 2,000 original hard news stories, often covering underreported issues and usually focusing on viewpoints you won't find anywhere in the mainstream media -- all in a format that is palatable and digestible to people who are not accustomed to reading alternative media or who are sick of being shouted at and told what to think.
If you aren't already helping us make ends meet, please know that we need you to, and that now is a terrific time to start contributing.