The Middle Ground (TMG), an independent online news platform, has announced that the site will commence the process of winding down the publication after two and half years of operation and thanked its supporters for all the support.
The statement penned by Daniel Yap, publisher of TMG wrote that it is a decision that the TMG team has been dreading for some time, and that the team wanted to let its readers know as soon as possible. Noting that the decision was a difficult one, but it was the only decision that made sense to the team.
TMG was re-launched on 15 June 2015 ahead of the General Election 2015. Prior to the launch, TMG existed as defunct Breakfast Network which closed after declining to subject itself to regulations placed upon the publication by then-Media Development Authority (now IMDA). The publication is headed by Bertha Henson, a former journalist at the Straits Times who assumed the position of consulting editor and Daniel Yap as the publisher. The website is owned by The Middle Ground Pte Ltd, a company co-owned by Yap and Henson.
TMG pointed out that though it has $3,000 each month via 200 patrons on Patreon, an online funding platform for creators but the "choices" made by the publication resulted in it being unattractive for ad campaigns. Citing overheads for a solid news editorial team as in the figure of the tens of thousands, the statement states that TMG was not an operation that could be sustained long term, without departing from the core values that the team hold dear.
Supporters of the publication were disheartened to hear about the closure and wrote comments on the Facebook page to praise and to share their disappointment in response to the news.
Kim Foong Foo wrote, "Very sad to learn of this. It's hard to sustain passion in this country without a steady stream of income. I wish you well but remain hopeful that someday you and your passionate writers will rise again. We need an objective voice in our MSM, not that bias crap we are cornered to read."
Jamie Menon wrote, "Sad day. You guys are a great example of quality reporting and writing; thought provoking, objective and intelligent. Qualities amiss in many media. Hope to see you in another permutation!
"The Online Citizen understands that TMG was bankrolled by an angel investor. When asked in a session at Singapore Digital Publishers Summit 2015, regarding who the investor was, Henson said that the team had intention to disclose who the investor was but the investor was "shy". Till date, no information of the investor was ever released.
Yap, in his statement wrote that the process of winding down TMG will take between one and three months, because of some of the obligations the publication have to its clients and suppliers. He also notes that he and Henson will be going back to blogging for now.
Yap wrote, "I hope one day that there will be a way to publish the news in Singapore that puts readers first. The news needs to find a new model. This would mean that readers should pay for what they need and what they want to read. We hope that what we have done at TMG will be an inspiration to those that come after us." TMG's campaign on Patreon will be ceased on 15 Nov 2017.
Editor's note - In comparison to TMG, TOC has USD$895 contribution each month on Patreon and around SGD$135 from subscribers. There has been no angel investor to fully fund the salaries of staff. The site has $1000 monthly overheads from administrative and server cost.