Fund update and independent journalism

money.jpgGreetings all. Just a quick fund update. The Back to Iraq fund now stands at almost $1,700, which is fantastic ($1,683.71, to be exact.) Thanks everyone for your donations.
Also, two reporters interviewed me today about being “the blogosphere’s first international war correspondent.” I don’t know about that, since I’m not there yet, but I think if I am, then I’m just going to be the first part of a wave of independent journalists using their blogs not merely as a personal site or a parallel to their professional life, but the main distribution channel for their work, with funds raised from readers such as yourselves. Andrew Sullivan and Greg Palast are already feeling out the way, using their sites as a major component of their career if not the main component (I don’t know how much of Sullivan’s income comes from his site, but he has a private email list that you get for a year if you give $20. He also has ads on his site. Palast doesn’t seem to take ads or donations on his site at all, so I guess his site is more promotional than commercial.)
Another question I was asked was, “Why don’t you take ads?” and “Would you still be independent if someone gave you a few thousand dollars?” Both good questions. And the first one is easiest to answer. The people who have donated did so because they believe in the concept of an indpendent journalist who, like Caesar’s wife, is above even the appearance of reproach — or the influence of advertisers. For that reason, because you have placed your faith in my reporting with cold, hard cash, there will be no ads on this Back to Iraq. Ever.
As for the second question — the situation where a wealthy donor comes in and drops $10,000 or whatever on me — all I can say is “I wish.” OK. I can be flip because I know it’s highly unlikely that will ever happen. Someone donating that much to me would be doing so because they approve of the idea of an independent journalist. If some rich liberal, who maybe hates America, wanted to donate a lot of money — or hell, fund this venture entirely — because he liked the idea of a scrappy journalist going where the big boys go and presenting a different set of stories, then hell yes, I’d take his money. But if that same donor gave money with the caveat that I had to go and “find all those atrocities that the U.S. troops are going to commit. Find me some American war criminals!” I’d have to say “no.” I’m perfectly willing to check out rumors of a My Lai-type massacre, but Yankee dollars won’t buy facts that don’t exist, nor will they pay for facts to go away that do.
Anyway, end of speech. Just wanted to get that off my chest.
Please remember that if you donate via Amazon, be sure and tell me that you did. (There’s a little box to the right after you’ve compeleted the transaction that says “Tell the person you donated” or something like that.) Amazon doesn’t provide me with any contact information, so I can’t add you to the mailing list, which is one of the main benefits of donating.
Alternately, you can drop me an email and let me know. Be sure and include your name, email and amount. Also, if you’d like to be listed on the “Angel Investors” list on the right, let me know. Otherwise I’ll assume you prefer anonymity.
Again thanks to everyone who donated. The plans are looking better and better, and I’m thinking my original goal of $8,000 to $10,000 might not be necessary for a six week trip. Instead, $6,000 to $7,000 (with half from me, half from donations) might be more in line, especially if I can get some equipment donated. Speaking of my savings, with my savings, the total amount is almost $3,200. Again, thanks to everyone for their support.