It won’t last, the young founders of New Internationalist were told 500 issues ago.
‘The main problem was that no-one really believed that a magazine on international development was viable,’ recalls Peter Adamson, one of those young founders. ‘We worked on a leap of faith that there was a large enough potential readership for a magazine like the NI.’
Well, 44 years on, New Internationalist is still here and tackling the themes of global justice that are as relevant today as they were in 1973.
It hasn’t been a smooth ride. There were many periods when it looked as if New Internationalist wasn’t going to make it. At one such point two staff members re-mortgaged their home to keep the presses rolling. But then, at another, worldwide circulation hit more than 80,000.
Apart from an unusually strong focus on marketing and financial planning, what kept the magazine alive was its mission – to report on ‘the people, the ideas, the action for global justice’. Plus, the fundamental belief that change is possible.
If there is one quality that sparks change, it’s courage. It seems fitting, therefore, that for this 500th issue we are focusing on ‘the brave’: courageous individuals who are risking life and limb to make a difference. You may not have heard of them – we have purposely sought people who are not all over the mainstream.
New Internationalist is not a mainstream organization. Its news values are not those of the herd-driven corporate media. We often tackle topics ignored by others. We are not owned by any proprietor, pulling the strings behind the scenes. We only accept advertising that passes certain ethical criteria. Our books are informed by the same editorial principles as the magazine. And our mailorder operation – the Ethical Shop – sources products that are ecological and fairly traded.
Above all we owe our continued existence to you – our readers, supporters and contributors. Which is why we are reaching out to you now at this critical time.
It’s no secret that many magazines and newspapers are in a state of crisis. The internet has transformed the media landscape. On the good side, we are read by many more people now, with our website getting around two million visits a year.
But a business model based on readers buying printed magazines delivers little in an era of free content. In the past few months we have stabilized subscription numbers and seen a slight increase. But it’s not enough for survival.
Which is why we are going public – but in a special way. We are launching a Community Share Offer that will enable people like you to invest in New Internationalist, to own it. It’s a new way of funding independent media which has been successfully trialled by some small publications and is catching on.
The media is too important to be in the hands of a few press barons, which is the current state of play. A democracy needs media plurality and to make this possible it needs diverse ownership models too.
You can now be part of the change, part of the media you want to see. Together we can stand up to the Rupert Murdochs of this world. With Donald Trump in the White House and rightwing nationalism spreading across the globe, we need ‘new internationalism’ now more than ever.
Together we can be part of the chorus that says: Yes, a better world and a better media are possible. We’ll buy into that.
It’s a critical time to build media that brings people together – not drives them apart. That means journalism that creates an inclusive global community, and emphasizes that the struggles of people are often in opposition to the same elite-driven globalization and share the same aspiration to a global, common good.
At New Internationalist, we have never had a rich benefactor or a media tycoon bankrolling what we do. So it makes sense for us to turn to our readers to help shape the kind of journalism that makes the case for something better.
On 1 March, we are launching an ambitious Community Share Offer, opening up ownership of New Internationalist to ordinary people all over the world. If you are interested in joining us, visit factsandheart.org.