Some of our charter members are still with us, but many of our current readers might not remember CounterPunch’s humble beginning as an ambitious six-page xeroxed bi-weekly newsletter. That was nearly a 25 years ago. Obviously, media has changed tremendously in the last quarter century. Printing has gone digital, postage prices have skyrocketed, and now we’re the biggest website of the radical left with around 2 million unique visitors reading our site every month.
You might think that means we’re rolling in it. But nothing could be further from the truth. While we’ve made it through some rough seas, our tiny ship cannot survive without the support and generosity of our readers. Unfortunately, only .05% of those readers donate. Most media outlets have staff just for grant farming – not CounterPunch. We refuse to take money from foundations funded by the 1% and big corporations that want to tell us how to operate. That’s why we need our readers to kick in once a year.
With our readership as large as it is, we could be funding our efforts with interest-based advertising, and every time you visit the CounterPunch site, you’d be stalked by creepy advertisements selling products you’ve only thought about ordering. Hopefully it won’t come to that. We prefer to use our “white space” to let you know about the books we’ve published and those by the writers that are featured on our site every week.
But the harsh reality is, the cost of putting a website has increased 5,000 times since the CounterPunch homepage first went online in 1997 – no that’s not a typo! We first purchased our URL (counterpunch.org) for $9.99 and that was the cost of putting up the site. Now, to make the user experience on our website accommodating, we have to purchase endless new plug-ins, pay monthly fees for memberships and annual fees for every little bell and whistle. Take for example the new and improved search engine or author’s pages – each of these features represents hours and hours of labor, maintenance and unbelievable hidden costs.
This is the time of the year that we put out our begging bowl and ask everybody to contribute what they can, in the form of the box at the top of our home page: what some readers have called “rude, ugly, obtrusive, lame, f*d up.” We can’t take it down until we’ve raised the funds to cover another year of operations. Please chip in fast and hopefully we’ll all be back to business as usual very soon.
CounterPunch survives on a lean budget with a small, intensely dedicated staff. We don’t have retirement plans or paid vacations or six figure salaries. Jeff and Josh work tirelessly to put up the vast array of articles you read everyday. Josh puts together our free CounterPunch News Updates, where you get a quick view of what’s new on our site a few times a week. Nat disseminates our stories across social media, informing a new generation of readers that CounterPunch is where they can turn to read what the mainstream media won’t print. Andrew is our website tech, sorting out technical aspects behind the scenes that I won’t even attempt to explain.
Here in the business office, Deva, Nichole and I are making sure your orders are fulfilled, your receipts mailed, the bills are paid and the bureaucracies are dealt with. We want to continue to produce the magazine and publish new books that few other publishers will even consider printing for those of you that still read paper. We want to continue publishing dozens of original articles daily on our website to millions around the globe for another year, but unless we reach our fundraising goals we simply won’t be able to stay afloat.
CounterPunch Business Manager