The Online Citizen (TOC) is running yet another fund raising campaign for its operation, in light of the recent development in Singapore and also the impending General Election.
Through various happenings in the past years, Singaporeans are getting more aware of the effects that bad policies have on their life but still find it hard to get to terms with the reality because of the conflicting information presented by the mainstream media and the government.
What we see today is a deluge of “information” from the government, mainstream media and pseudo-independent media which are funded using public monies (advertising using ministries’ fund), and independent media such as TOC is funded solely by advertising money via readership and donations from the general public.
Advertising funding unsustainable, nor provide room for expansion
In 2015, TOC raised $60,000 which helped to fund the site to cover the cost of staffing and rental for the year. However, that fund has since been used up. Since the start of 2016, TOC has been operated by a single editor but supported by a number of contributors.
80% of the website’s traffic is generated via Facebook referrals and with the recent change in FB algorithm, the advertising revenue will likely drop in time to come.
The majority of websites in Singapore do not survive through advertising, but through advertorials and sponsored posts. TOC don’t expect to be paid by those whom it assist in its operation, whether the story is published. As what Terry said in 2015 during a forum, the problem that TOC face in its sustainability is the question of who pays for coverage of injustice and social issues? And for investigative journalism, time and manpower have to be dedicated into the story and no advertising revenue can support that expenditure.
TOC is not backed by any political party and has no angel investor which dumps money with no apparent commercial interest, a foundation that provides seemingly unlimited seed money or a govt entity that pays a six-figure sum for a project which could be paid with four. (Yes, they are real-life examples)
TOC has always been supported by citizens, citizens who wish for an alternative voice for the population on issues that matter. We hope citizens who wish for change in the country and an independent press to keep companies and authorities in check will step forth to support our work. At this point, it is a futile attempt to overcome the sheer amount of disinformation from the government and we need your help to fund our efforts to dispute the half-truths put out to citizens.
The Online Citizen has registered with the Info-communications Media Development Authority that under the Class Licence Act in response to the agency’s demand.
What it means for the website is that it will be subjected to a higher scrutiny of income as compared to the previous requirements set in place under the Political Donation Act. TOC will have to declare all source of income to IMDA, regardless whether it is a $1 donation or advertising revenue. TOC will also not be allowed to receive any payment for advertising or services rendered for a foreign entity that is non-commercial in nature, such as the WWF, Doctors without Borders and etc.
For those who are asking TOC to move overseas to operate, it is not possible. Few reasons being, TOC site will not be allowed to be accessed in Singapore; it cannot appear physically in events for coverage such as live streaming; any contributors to the site might be seen as committing an offence, and Facebook might even comply with Singapore govt’s request to remove TOC’s Facebook page.
Moving forward, TOC would push for in-depth coverage on things that matters to citizens, such as employment issues, healthcare cost, education, opposition parties and Singapore’s little but yet growing civil society. Currently, we just skim the surface of the issues, but this is what we can manage with the resources on hand while still trying to be sustainable.
TOC has created its Chinese website this year and looking to expand to Malay and other languages if demand exists.
The next General Election will likely be coming this coming year, at end 2019. For the current TOC, coverage of an event that magnitude is pretty impossible. In order for the site to be prepared for GE coverage, preparation such as staffing and training, has to be made earlier beforehand.
If you think TOC has been doing a good job, imagine what it can do with resources on hand to hire full-time staff and create more in-depth stories on issues that matter.
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For one-off subscription and donation of other amounts, visit the Patreon link here. (Note that the amount is in USD, and if you want to donate only once, just cancel the subscription once payment is made.)
To make a donation via bank or cheque:
- Bank transfer to The Online Citizen Pte Ltd, Maybank Account, bank code 7302, account number 04011108619; or
- Cheque, made payable to “The Online Citizen Pte Ltd” (Many cheques to TOC have been bounced because people did not write “Pte Ltd” or put “TOC Pte Ltd”, please take note)
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For more information on advertising, write to us as [email protected]