It’s hard to believe it’s already been six months since I joined the team here at Firedoglake as an online organizer. In that time we’ve launched the Occupy Supply program, stopped the Super Committee from making savage cuts to the social safety net, helped paved the way for major drug policy reform in 2012, and so much more. While I’m definitely proud of these accomplishments, I can’t say I’m surprised. It was Firedoglake’s signature brand of independent, ground-up news and activism that drew me to it the first place.
In the sometimes-unnavigable sea of media, activism and political organizations Firedoglake is truly unique. It’s not just rare. It’s not just different. It’s unique – meaning one-of-a-kind. I can’t think of any other organization that combines fiercely independent reporting and audience-driven activism in the way that FDL does. And right at the center of this special model lies the FDL Membership program.
Not only do our members help provide the financial support necessary to sustain our small staff and operations (something Brian Sonenstein has already touched on) – our members shape the vision of our entire organization. Take Occupy Supply as an example. It began as a small idea – but the massive, widely-praised operation it has become is the direct result of the input and dedication of our member-liaisons. Without our membership program, Occupy Supply might have been limited to Jane and Ryan running a couple jackets and propane tanks to Occupy DC once a week. Instead, it’s a nationwide campaign that has helped build critical connections between the occupations, while sustaining them through the winter — and it’s all thanks to our members.
Our Occupy Supply webinar topics come from ideas we get from members. The occupy dispatches you see on the blog come from our members. The growth in Firedoglake you’ve seen this past year is due, in large part, to our members.
The point here is that this isn’t some tote-bag membership (although you will get some excellent swag for signing up). By becoming a member you are taking part ownership of Firedoglake. You can donate $45 to public radio, but they aren’t gonna let you help decide who Terry Gross interviews. $45 will get you a New York Times subscription for 1 month – and I can promise you they won’t ask you to write a dispatch from your local occupation (I know, because I do subscribe, and they haven’t called me yet).
But as an FDL member you will be part of the core of our organization. You will help decide what kind of activism we take. You’ll help carry out that activism. You’ll make sure we report on topics that our community cares about. This is what I mean when I say FDL is unique.
I previously described FDL as fiercely independent. This is technically untrue. We’re fiercely dependent — on you, our readers and activists. We are beholden to nobody else – no corporations, no politicians, no big donors. We want to keep it that way, and the membership program helps us do that.