A Message From Jason Leopold

A Message From Jason Leopold

Editor’s note: Please see below for an update from Carolyn Eisenberg, legislative director of United For Peace and Justice, regarding the group’s status.

Dear Truthout Readers,

That I am personally appealing to you here underscores the financial hardship that has seriously impacted Truthout and the independent media landscape at large.

I want to share with you an experience I found to be incredibly disturbing; it’s something I think you should be concerned about as well.

In the days after Barack Obama was sworn into office, I had several conversations with colleagues, friends and activists who told me that the election of a Democrat, and one as charismatic as Barack Obama, totally removed the urgency of supporting independent media. These people believed that simply by having a Democrat in the White House, as well as Democrats controlling both Houses of Congress, we no longer needed to fret about all the issues that had concerned us for the past eight years. I think they believed, naively, Democrats were going to swiftly end the wars, close down Guantanamo, repeal the Patriot Act and provide us with the real health care reform we were promised. In other words, we were now going to be taken care of because “our side” was in control.

I found this to be laughable – I thought it was a joke. However, David Swanson, a progressive activist whom I admire and respect, drove the point home for me during a recent interview. He said the election led to the disbanding of several progressive groups, such as United for Peace and Justice, because funding completely dried up. [Please see update below.]

This tidal wave of indifference has affected Truthout’s bottom line, threatening our ability to bring you, our readers, the information you need. We all know an independent press is essential to democracy, now I’m asking you to help us fund it. We cannot do this without you.

I don’t need to tell you wars are still being waged, Guantanamo is still open and we’re a long way from universal health care. If there was ever a time when it was crucial to fund and empower a progressive, independent media outlet, that time is now. For one, the right-wing media landscape is getting larger and becoming louder, and that is due in no small part to the deep-pocketed donors who fund the lies and propaganda they disseminate. Secondly, the Democrats you helped elect – and that includes President Obama – have, with a few exceptions, left in place many of the Bush administration’s most abusive policies. That’s a fact. A month ago, Congress quietly reauthorized the Patriot Act for another year, failing to address the sections of the law that trample on civil liberties. Next month, Congress is scheduled to hold hearings on war funding, and you can bet lawmakers will continue to ignore their oversight powers and won’t use the power of the purse to put an end to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The media is required to hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire, no matter if there is a Democrat or Republican in the White House, and regardless of which party has the majority of seats in the House or Senate.

That’s what makes Truthout a truly independent news source. And that’s the type of reporting I have undertaken over the past year. I have reported critically on Democrats’ constant capitulation to Republicans, and the president’s continuous refusals to hold the past administration accountable. And I continue to take Republicans to task for their obstructionism.

I have worked at Truthout as an editor and investigative reporter for nearly five years. I truly believe we have done an outstanding job, given our limited financial resources – and the proof can be found in our extensive archives.

But here’s the cold, hard truth: we can’t continue to do this – and I can’t continue to do this – without your financial support. During the presidential campaign, which took place at the height of the economic crisis, I saw first hand how the grassroots movement, through small donations of $5 and more, united to help the Obama campaign spread its message of Hope and Change. I’m confident we can duplicate that trend.

Please consider joining us in our effort for accountability by making a donation today. We’re committed to this cause; now we need your commitment. Truthout has been thriving for nearly a decade. I hope you will invest in our future and ensure we will continue to thrive for decades to come.

Jason Leopold

UPDATE: United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is continuing as a functioning, vibrant network of member groups and individuals from across the country. Financial pressures during the past year, have necessitated a transition from a national coalition with staff to an all-volunteer organization. Its Working Groups (Afghanistan, Legislative and Nuclear Disarmament), help to link local and national peace groups that are working to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, oppose the appalling $708 billion military budget and redirect resources to urgently needed domestic programs. For more information: [email protected]

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