FSRN Fall Fund Drive: a message from FSRN Board member Jonathan Lapin


Hello everyone. My name is Jonathan Lapin, and I’m the newest member of the FSRN board.

I’m asking you to give me three minutes of your time.

FSRN still needs your help. As many of you know, a major source of our funding stopped paying us, and we’ve been in recovery mode since then. After a successful fundraising campaign at the end of 2013, we came back to life in February with a great new website, daily audio reports, a weekly edition and photo essays.

And it is time to call our listeners and supporters back into action. Without more listeners and more funds, we may not be able to keep going. I am asking you to take three actions. Indeed, I am challenging you to come through for us. In doing so, you will come through for one of the unsung gems of independent news.   

I am asking you to:

  • grow our listener base,
  • give what you can and solicit donations from people in your networks,
  • suggest foundations, independent radio stations, podcasters, and even major donors that might otherwise be unaware of our work; or even contact them yourself.

Last winter, I realized how important FSRN was to me and how important it is to the world. I evaluated my charitable giving.

Most of my donations were to large organizations. My contributions did not make or break those large organizations.And since I am struggling with the challenges of a disability in a broken health care system,I decided to shift my donations toward FSRN, rather than to try to give more.

My donations (and yours, and the support and attention of your networks) might be the difference between recovery and silence for FSRN.

If you take on my challenge, you can change the world. That isn’t hyperbole. I’m an engineer by trade. Sometimes small perturbations can have a huge influence on the outcome. It is time to perturb; and your actions can be the difference.

In the years before FSRN’s hiatus last fall, the FSRN daily podcast was a part of my daily news diet. In the months after FSRN had to stop production, I went on a very disappointing search for a substitute. I found shows that carefully avoided topics that their corporate owners didn’t like. I found shows that mimicked 1970s radio programs; some even had giggling sidekicks or sound effects. I found independent broadcasts that were too often agenda-driven, or that covered far less of the news. Some of these shows regularly cut off guests mid-sentence or relied on live links that failed mid-broadcast.

I realized how rare and important FSRN was to me, and to the world. Although FSRN reports were carried on Pacifica and independent news outlets, most listeners didn’t know much about FSRN.

Here are a few things that I learned last year: FSRN produces its content with almost no infrastructure. There is no building, or even a studio. FSRN’s staff produces the content from their homes, which are spread throughout the world. Our board is separated by a 13,000 mile path from Mexico to Canada to Kenya. Our reporters are freelance, independent journalists. They live in or near the countries from which they report. They sell individual stories to us, and have to produce content that is compelling enough to compete with other stories from around the world.

Our staff insists on high journalistic ethics and processes, in the traditions of journalism that have long rejected propaganda and rumor. Stories are vetted. Audio and text are reviewed by skilled editors. There is a strong firewall between the editorial decisions and the financial ones. And our product is news; not infotainment. In a world of blogs and social media, with people who often call themselves citizen journalists but fail to vet the rumors they repeat, FSRN is a refreshing dose of hard news, produced by a highly skilled cadre.

At this point in a fundraising letter, the writer asks “can I count on your support“? The time to ask has passed. I am counting on you for your support. Accept my challenge. Expand our listener base. Give more by re-aligning what you give. Introduce us to foundations, independent stations, podcasts and major donors. If you don’t think you’ve got the networks to help, it is time to stretch your comfort zone.

YOU can change the world.

Thank you for your time,

Jonathan Lapin

PS: If you’d like to give feedback or suggestions, you can write to me at Jonathan.FSRN@9ox.net. I plan to read every one. I can’t promise I’ll write back to everyone, but I’ll at least report how many I’ve gotten through.