Independent Journalism Innovation -- @BeaconReader

Outlets that can be trusted implicitly seem to be all but extinct. Most of us attempt to follow our favorite, trusted writers around wherever they can get printed or limit our reading lists to publications we’ve found to be typically reliable. Let’s face it: that’s exhausting and none of us are very good at it.

It’s also pretty unsatisfying. We read a lot of the same stuff everywhere and mainly wind up just skimming in an effort to stay current because almost no one will publish in depth, investigative pieces anyway. Enter Beacon Reader — a new concept so needed it’s already catching fire.

From their website, "Beacon is for people who tell great stories and uncover important information." Run by a staff of writers, social media gurus and tech specialists, Beacon is reader-friendly. That means more than just an ad-free space; it’s easy to scroll, browse and consume information in a visually appealing format. They’re pushing back on every aspect of what they describe as the market’s affect on publishing.

From their post on the Reader-Writer relationship:

"Market economics in publishing can’t support a lot of the stories that deserve to be told. When everything’s crammed into an ad-supported model, plenty of amazing articles, commentary and reporting get left behind. We firmly believe any solution to this problem rests on three core things: reader, writer, story.”

Independent journalists are squeezed out of the medium by an inability to pursue important stories by more than just the unfortunately accepted lack-of-money issue. When you don’t have a publication standing behind you, landing interviews, raising money for travel or equipment and relationship building with sources is nearly impossible. With Beacon, writers can guarantee the article will get published. And if a major outlet wants to pay to pick it up, the writer — not Beacon — retains the publishing rights and can sell their work.

Featuring in-depth reporting projects on topics shunned and shortened by main stream and corporate media, Beacon gives readers the chance to decide which work gets funded. You can share and highlight the pieces you like and the top writers get rewarded with a bonus, kind of like a reporting co-op.

Recently, the team from Beacon’s Ferguson coverage — the first breaking news published by the site — got some notice nationally. They’ve also picked up their first Pulitzer prize winning writer. Other successful projects have included “The Genetics of Climate Change,” “The Net Neutrality Battle,” and “The Legacy of Mass Incarceration.” Beacon is easy to browse by topic with articles on everything from travel to art to law to fracking to national security.

As accurately stated on Beacon’s info page, you likely pay to subscribe to Netflix and/or Spotify — both around $10/month. The comparable model in journalism was previously $35 for “basic" New York Times access and $77 for The Washington Post, Wall St Journal, or unlimited New York Times. And, honestly, who wants to read them anyway? For $5/month at Beacon, you get access to all the content, curate your own subscription list and can choose to toss in once or as a sustaining donor for projects you’re especially excited about.

Visit Beacon, poke around, and see if you’re moved to support the work being done there. Also, if you’re a writer or are friends with one or two, let them know that the process to apply for space at Beacon is super easy. Share the idea and give them a follow on Facebook and Twitter. We’re never going back to the print journalism model; so here’s to the innovators looking to create sustainable platforms in the new landscape.


Subscribe or sign up to write at: Beacon Reader

Follow Beacon on Twitter and Facebook

Sources/further reading:

This is what old media stalwarts suggested a couple years ago. Seriously: "Save The New York Times” via HuffPo

"How to Survive the Death of Print Media” via Forbes

"Why The Death Of Print Publications Should Have Us All A Bit Worried” via Business Insider

"Who says print is dead?” via The Guardian (Spoiler alert: everyone)

"Lazy Journalists Aren't to Blame for Death of Print” via Bloomgberg

Hear the segment in context:

Episode #865 "Structural failures that lead us to war (Media)"

Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

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