FSRN in crisis
Starting Tuesday, December 7, FSRN had to pare down its newscast to a bare bones staff. FSRN's generous supporters have kept FSRN alive through the end of January, but we still need your support to continue producing the newscast further into the new year.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2010:
FSRN is alive! Thanks to your incredible generosity, FSRN has raised more than $75,000 since our funding crisis began earlier this month. That means FSRN can continue producing our newscast at least through the end of January.
But life goes on past January. Important world events and community-rooted stories beg to be reported in February and beyond.
As the year comes to an end, there are only a couple more days to make a charitable contribution that can be deducted from your 2010 taxes. FSRN is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
If you haven't given to FSRN yet, or if you want to take a bigger tax deduction, make a credit card donation here by 11:59pm PST on December 31. Or mail a check postmarked December 31 or earlier to:
Free Speech Radio News
P.O. Box 60000
San Francisco, CA 94160
FSRN is dedicated to bringing you independent coverage of the news of our world, and I am really excited about our hopes and plans to survive and thrive in the new year. I can't wait to tell you all about it. For now, though, I'll just wish you a Happy New Year and thank you so very much for your generosity!
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2010:
We're just hours away from the Christmas holiday weekend, and I continue to be impressed by and infinitely thankful for FSRN's tremendous supporters!
Just two and a half weeks ago, FSRN was in the deepest financial hole it has ever been in. We owed far more money to our reporters, staff, and creditors than we had in the bank. Our major funder wasn't able to pay us what we needed. FSRN's Board had taken the financially responsible but very depressing vote to lay everyone off in two weeks.
But FSRN listeners came through - loud and clear! You all showed incredible generosity with your donations and incredible passion for independent news. In just 17 days, we have raised more than $72,000!
But we need at least $75,000 to make it to the end of January. Your donation can be the one that puts us over the line! We are furiously working to develop a sustainability plan beyond January, and your support is critical to getting us there.
Remember: FSRN is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and your donations before December 31st are tax deductible on your United States tax returns.
As we approach this holiday weekend, FSRN takes a break from our usual newscast to air some touching, compelling documentaries. This Christmas Eve, we air Shannon Heffernan's piece, "Time on the Outside: Incarceration and Families." The US Justice Department report that 63% of federal prisoners have a child under 18 years old. And for every child with an incarcerated parent, there is a caregiver who picks up the job of raising the children while the parent is away. Shannon spent time with these families, and documents their emotional, physical and financial challenges as a result of their loved ones' imprisonment. As we explore this period of mass incarceration, we must explore it as a familial and communal experience. Listen to this documentary anytime here at our website or on December 24th or 31st on your local affiliate station.
As always, your generosity to FSRN is so very appreciated. CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO FSRN!
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2010:
Every day, I come to work at FSRN, log into my email, and smile when I discover the new donations that have come in overnight. You all have proven that you really care about FSRN and about the platform for independent voices and perspectives that we provide! As of this morning, we are just shy of $66,000 raised since our financial crisis began two weeks ago.
But as you can see from the thermometer at the right, that's not quite enough. We need to hit the $75,000 mark to make it through January. We are working on a plan for sustainability and major funding, but we need at least the month of Januay to execute this plan. Please help us get there -- donate to FSRN today!
If you're in a position to make a large donation to FSRN at this time, we would be thrilled to set you up with dinner with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. That's our thanks to you if you can donate $2000 or more. Scroll down to hear Amy's appeal to you and FSRN supporters.
Finally, I want to remind you that FSRN is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All your donations to FSRN are tax-deductible for your U.S. taxes. And as we approach the end of 2010, now is the perfect time to make sure you have contributed generously to non-profits like FSRN.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2010:
As you know, FSRN has been teetering on the edge of the abyss for the last two weeks. I am thrilled to report that your incredible generosity just helped us take two steps back toward solid ground! Your donations have ensured FSRN's newscast will continue through at least December 31!
But this is a slippery and precarious cliff we're on. We haven't really found our footing yet, and we're still too close to the edge. We have raised $57,000 so far, but we need to hit $75,000 to continue to January 31. We need your continued support to continue our newscast into the new year.
We are already hard at work on developing a sustainability plan for FSRN moving forward in the new year. But it takes more than a day or a week to make this happen. We need the month of January to get things in order. Your donation to FSRN is an investment in the future of independent media. CLICK HERE TO MAKE THAT INVESTMENT AND DONATE TO FSRN!
I also want to share with you some moving testimonials from friends and supporters of FSRN. The most recent comes from Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman:
We have also spoken with Robert McChesney, professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, co-founder of the policy group Free Press, and an FSRN board member. Earlier this year, he co-wrote The Death and Life of American Journalism.
In Thursday's newscast, we talked with Jeremy Scahill, correspondent for The Nation magazine and Democracy Now! and author of the book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. "I wouldn't be doing what I am doing today had I not had the experience of working with and for Free Speech Radio News," said Scahill. "I'm very proud to be associated with it."
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2010:
We are getting closer and closer!
As of this morning, we have raised more than $47,000 to keep independent media alive! That's just shy of our $55,000 need to continue operations through December 31. I am so impressed with the generosity of FSRN's amazing donors! I just can't say thank you enough.
The fundraising thermometer at right shows our funds raised through Wednesday, December 15, 9:00am EST.
As you can see, we still have to raise several thousand dollars to survive to the end of the month. Help ensure that FSRN's decade-long project of producing tremendous on-the-ground journalism from around the world can continue! DONATE HERE.
I can also report that Pacifica Radio, through its Pacifica Affiliates Program, has established a dedicated fund to raise money to pay FSRN. During the past week, FSRN has been working with the Pacifica Affiliates Program to find funding to keep FSRN's newscast on the air, while also developing ideas for long-term sustainability.
Indeed, I have gotten a few emails from listeners and potential donors asking, "What happens if I donate and then you close next week?" It's a fair question. And I can answer thus:
I am confident that we will raise the funds to carry on through December 31 -- with your help! And I am hopeful that we will raise the funds to continue through January 31. If we can keep the doors open that long, we can find new ways of doing things to keep the boat afloat. In fact, we are already headlong into developing ideas for financial sustainability and media partnerships that will strengthen our organization and newscast.
We appreciate our generous donors SO MUCH! Your commitment to independent media is truly inspiring. And we have every intention of carrying on with our mission, and serving as the nation's premeire independent radio news program.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2010:
I am excited to report that FSRN raised $35,000 last week from more than 350 generous individuals. This is a tremendous response to our emergency plea for operating funds.
We have crunched out the numbers of what we need to carry on our operations. To make it to December 31, we must raise $55,000. To keep producing a newscast through January 31, we must raise $75,000. [Note: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that we needed $60,000 to continue to Dec 31.]
While these numbers may seem daunting, we're actually well on our way! With your support, we can reach - and even exceed! - our goal. DONATE HERE.
(The fundraising thermometer shows our funds raised through Monday, December 13, 11:00am EST.)
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2010:
On Tuesday, we came to you with an urgent appeal for funds. Many of you responded and donated to keep FSRN alive! I can't tell you how much I appreciate your generosity and your commitment to independent media.
But we're not out of the woods yet. FSRN Board member and Free Press co-founder Robert McChesney sends this urgent appeal:
"FSRN is an incredible news organization that produces more quality per dollar spent than any news medium I know of in the world. I have been so impressed by the professionalism and quality of FSRN that I agreed to serve on its board. I dread to think where we would be without FSRN.
"Your support of FSRN has made all this possible for the last ten years. Thank you so much. But, right now, FSRN needs your support more than ever. As we academics like to put it, FSRN is at a 'critical juncture.' We need cash right now to cover outstanding bills, and if we get that funding, we are in a position to make dramatic advances. The public response to our work has been heartening."
We need to raise at least $4,000 every day for the next week to get FSRN to the next phase of its life. You can help by donating generously today.
And here's another way you can help: Tell your friends about FSRN's amazing work and urge them to donate. This will only work if we all pitch in for independent media. You can send them to this page (fsrn.org/crisis), or send them to an interview explaining FSRN's crisis and the importance of keeping it alive.
Thank you SO VERY MUCH for your support!
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2010:
This is the situation: The majority of FSRN's income comes from the Pacifica network, and Pacifica has been facing financial difficulties for several years. For the past 15 months, Pacifica has frequently fallen behind on their monthly payments to FSRN, but has always caught up when its Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds arrived. When payments have been late, FSRN has taken out bridge loans to make do until the next payment.
Unfortunately, this time around Pacifica has not been able to catch up with its debt to FSRN. It currently owes FSRN about $230,000, but has paid us only $70,000 of that total. Meanwhile, FSRN has accrued more than $80,000 in debt to our reporters, staff, creditors, and a bridge loan to keep us afloat. Pacifica has promised us future funds, but the situation is so serious that it is not entirely clear how much or when these will arrive, if ever.
Thus, we cannot in good conscience continue to commission new stories from our freelance reporters. Neither can we continue to keep the same number of people on payroll. We are simply not confident we could cover these liabilities.
So beginning Tuesday, December 7, 2010, we have reduced staffing to a skeleton crew to keep producing the newscast. This will consist of primarily 2-way interviews, cut-and-copy segments, readers, and content from partner media organizations like UN Radio, Workers Independent News, the Real News Network, and others. We will make it the best newscast we can, given the immensely difficult financial situation we are in.
FSRN will continue to distribute daily newscasts through and including Monday, December 20th. Beyond that our very existence is in doubt. If, by Friday, December 17th, we are not able to raise enough money to pay our past due bills and to fund our scaled back newscast through the end of December, we will SUSPEND PRODUCTION beginning Tuesday, December 21st.
We will stay in close contact with you all about the status of our programming.
IMMEDIATE WAYS YOU CAN HELP:
#1 -- DONATIONS. I know we have asked for "emergency donations" before, and many of you have generously responded. But this is about as bad as things have been at FSRN. We need to raise about $40,000 to pay our past due obligations to reporters and think about continuing our newscast in the new year.
If we are able to continue our newscast, your donation of $3600 would cover our scaled back newscast for about a week, although we cannot guarantee that we will be able to raise enough to keep producing the newscast after December 20th.
#2 -- Letters. Some people have already asked me if they can write to Pacifica management about this situation. We do not want to work against our primary funder, and we know that withholding funds from Pacifica would make it even more difficult for them to pay us what they owe us. However, individuals that wish to write to Pacifica management in support of FSRN could be helpful.
Thank you so very much for your support during this difficult period!