Keep openDemocracy open!

By Alice

25 February 2013

OpenDemocracy, the digital commons that's been providng news and opinion articles since 2001, have announced that they need to raise £250k by March 31st, or they’ll close. They’ve raised much of this already, but are asking those of their readers who can to help them raise the crucial last £30,000.

As their Editor-in-Chief Magnus Nome put it in a post last week:

We know you want fresh investigation, strong ideas and good writing to address the extraordinary events of our time.  We also know you don’t want to pay for it. We don’t either. We like our web free.

Web publishing is increasingly dominated by giant corporations and lone bloggers. To keep open and independent spaces like openDemocracy alive with a richness of content and a variety of voices, we need the help of those of you that can pitch in.

We whole-heartedly agree with this. We’d also be devastated to lose oD from the growing cadre of not-for-profit, independent, public interest web publishing groups which offer something more than mainstream media or individual bloggers can alone.

Where else could you have seen pieces like their painstaking report on the level to which the BBC failed to properly inform the public of the nature of the coalition NHS bill? And considering this failure of the mainstream media, where else would have provide the sort of coverage of the NHS we’ve seen at the oD’s “Our NHS” series?

Discussing the issue over the weekend, the NLP editors remembered a lot of other bits of oD’s content we’ve been grateful for recently. Other things that came to mind include their thoughtful discussion of the role and future of the BBC in British public, OurBeeb, which the report on NHS reform coverage came out of, and a great series on networked activism mostly produced in heat of the political upsurge of 2011. Also, Paul Rogers writings and Vron Ware’s column, the Uneconomics series, Arab Awakening and the recent one on republican economics. We also really like the way oD can bring liberals and leftists together. It’s not just about radical views for radical readers.

Those were just the first things that came to our minds though. There are loads more. The threat of closure is a good excuse to spend some time on the site, looking at the rich work they produce, reminding yourself of your favourite pieces or series, discovering more and thinking about how much you’d miss if it went.

You can donate here and let people know on twitter with the hashtag #keepoDopen.

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4 Comments on "Keep openDemocracy open!"

By Anthony Barnett, on 27 February 2013 - 21:13 |

Hey, guys at NLP, thanks for this. I’m hoping we’ll republish oD’s debate over the Iraq invasion led by John le Carré‘s short, excoriating polemic and keep the flag flying for another decade in the face of corporate venalism.

By Jim, on 01 March 2013 - 19:23 |

As sombody who reads the Open Democracy blog every day I am a little more sceptical than the above contribution. There is much that is good on the blog, a small amount that is very informative - like other left blogs. However much of the material particularly on the EU - No I’m not a UKIP supporter, they are a loathsome group of rightists - is written from a mandarin Centre- Right perspective where there is scant interest in either democracy at European level or in any form of welfare state. Blogs referring to ‘the uneducated’ - a recent Dutch blog or to ‘populists ie Syriza or other groupings who argue for welfare states take up far too much space on that site. Its as if Occupy, Tax uncut, Los indignados and such groupings had never existed for many commentators. There is far too much libdeminism mandarism on the site and too little evidence that contributors ever take part in defence of welfare states or democracy from below.

By Neil, on 02 March 2013 - 13:19 |

I wish Open Democracy no harm - in fact the opposite – but I must unfortunately concur with Jim’s comments.  Although there is much that is good on oD, in my opinion its editorial policy is too broad, non-critical and non-radical for it to work successfully as – purportedly - a pro-democratic and progressive web forum. Its fundamental problem in my opinion is that it tries to be inclusive of writing that presents - or is premised on – both elitist top-down liberal/ conservative (‘mandarin’) conceptions of democracy and political economy as well as radical bottom-up and anti-capitalist views, with the former being quantitatively the more predominant I would say. 

Alhough oD content includes both the above conceptions of democracy for some reason/s I can’t completely fathom (funding model and sources perhaps?) it seems to have an editorial bias towards elitism and capitalist reform and an inconsistent attitude towards mass public mobilisation. Maybe the best way of trying to understand oD is to see it as a ‘liberal’ media and political project caught in the contradictions of liberalism’s two faces and finding itself squeezed into a rapidly shrinking ideological space. In my opinion oD needs to decide which agency and model of change – top-down or bottom up – it wishes to side with and shape its identity and editorial policy accordingly. I’m not sure it works to try have it both ways.

By Geoff Chambers, on 03 March 2013 - 18:44 |

I only discovered openDemocracy recently and like it. But why on earth do they need a quarter of a million to run a website? Beppe Grillo does it for nothing, (and so do I come to that).And what’s wrong with an internet dominated by lone bloggers? No doubt we’ll coalesce in time, and it won’t cost anything.

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