Quarterly Fundraiser Day 4: Why I Need Your Money ($2000/£1600) to Keep Me Working as a Reader-Funded Guantánamo Journalist

14.9.17

Andy Worthington calls on Donald Trump to close Guantanamo outside the Supreme Court on January 11, 2017, the 15th anniversary of the opening of the prison (Photo: Justin Norman).Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation towards the $2000 (£1600) I’m trying to raise to support my work on Guantánamo for the next three months!

 

Dear friends, supporters, and any interested passers-by,

I need your help, and I won’t beat around the bush. I’m a reader-funded journalist, activist and creator, and I can’t continue to do what I do without your help. I’m trying to raise $2000 (£1600) to support my work for the next three months, and any amount — $15, $25, $50, $100 or more —will be very gratefully received. Click on the ‘Donate’ button above to make a donation, via Paypal.

So what do I do, and why do I need your money?

Well, since 2006, I’ve been researching and writing about the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay and working to get it closed down, because it’s a legal, moral and ethical abomination, and because outrageous lies have been told about the significance of the men held here (the “worst of the worst,” we were told, although most, as I have demonstrated repeatedly, were no such thing).

First — unpaid — I wrote a book, The Guantánamo Files, telling the stories of the prisoners, which took me 14 months, and then I began publishing articles here, on my website, on a daily basis, as I could find no one at the time prepared to pay me to write about everything I had learned through 14 months of research and writing.

In the intervening years, I have sometimes been paid by mainstream media outlets, but I also value the independence of my website, and my ability to write without any outside interference, and that remains crucial in many ways, as I deliberately blur the false standards the so-called liberal media sets itself, which involve “objectivity” — reporting news stories giving equal weight to both sides of any story, and saving opinions for op-eds.

In contrast, I have always reported news stories about Guantánamo (and about other topics I write about) with an editorial voice, to show my disgust at what has been taking place, and I regard the failure to do so in the mainstream media as a failure to challenge the dark forces shaping our lives and ruining our world. I’d also like it to be noted that the right-wing media, in contrast, has no pretence to “objectivity.”

An example of this false adherence to “objectivity” came in 2008, when I worked with Carlotta Gall on a front-page New York Times story about a prisoner at Guantánamo, Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, who had been a ferocious opponent of the Taliban, but had been mistakenly sent to Guantánamo, where the authorities persistently ignored his efforts to clear his name, and, adding insult to injury, slandered him after his death. Within hours of the article being published, someone in the Bush administration had called the Times to tell them that I shouldn’t have been given a byline, and the editors duly capitulated, printing an Editors’ Note apologizing for giving me a byline because I “had a point of view.”

As the Editors’ Note put it:

Mr. Worthington has written a book, “The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison,” in which he takes the position that Guantánamo is part of what he describes as a cruel and misguided response by the Bush administration to the Sept. 11 attacks. He has also expressed strong criticism of Guantánamo in articles published elsewhere.

The editors were not aware of Mr. Worthington’s outspoken position on Guantánamo. They should have described his contribution to the reporting instead of listing him as co-author, and noted that he had a point of view.

Overlooked in all this was that I “had a point of view” because I had studied Guantánamo for 14 months, and had reached the understandable and accurate conclusion that factual research only established that it was an unforgivable place that should never have been opened, and that should be closed as swiftly as possible.

My independence, therefore, is partly though necessity — to allow me to say what needs saying without being prevented, or having what needs to be said watered down.

But there is, of course, a price to pay for this independence, and this is that, once you step outside of the mainstream media, with, for the most part, its funding through advertising, and, for the print media, through paper sales, there is no money to pay writers. The internet, and the blogging revolution that I got involved in quite early on (as a full-time blogger from May 2007), allows anyone a platform, and I can say, I believe, after ten years, that if you have a clear focus and some talent, you will get noticed, but getting paid is a different matter, and it’s on this point that I return to where I began — and ask you to support me if you can because the kind of writer, activist and creator I am is not corporate-backed, or funded through advertising, but one supported by you.

This applies to my Guantánamo work, for which I am best-known, and which involves not just this website, but also the Close Guantánamo campaign, associated social media, and the costs of running the various sites, but it also applies to all the other work I undertake — my work on social justice issues, mainly, but not exclusively related to British politics, my photography (both my protest photos and my recently launched project ‘The State of London’), and my music, with my band The Four Fathers.

This is probably not the place to start a major discussion about the difficulties of funding all creative endeavors at this point in time, but I think that we collectively face a problem whose scale is not fully acknowledged: essentially, that, since the internet became central to so many of our lives, a huge amount of creative work has become unpaid, and the relatively recent growth of social media, apps and tech companies continues to shift the balance away from creators to a handful of people essentially in charge of the technology, who have become almost incomprehensibly rich at everyone else’s expense.

To some extent, everyone is being ripped off — every time we share our photos, our writing, our thoughts, our creations, on social media and through apps, we are making money for those who own the platforms, whose extraordinary wealth is only possible because we have all been persuaded to provide everything we do for free. For people with paid jobs elsewhere, this is perhaps not so much of a problem, but for creative people it often makes for a profoundly challenging, precarious existence financially, on more or less a full-time basis. For me, these particular obstacles permeate the worlds I’m involved in — writing, photography and music — and, as a result, I really do rely on your support.

To make a donation, please click on the “Donate” button above to make a payment via PayPal. You can also make a recurring payment on a monthly basis by ticking the box marked, “Make This Recurring (Monthly),” and if you are able to do so, it would be very much appreciated.

Thanks for listening, and I hope the thoughts I’ve outlined above have some resonance for you.

With thanks, as ever, for your support.

Andy Worthington
London
September 14, 2017

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign.

3 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    It’s Day 4 of my quarterly fundraiser, and I’m still trying to raise $2000 (£1600) to support my work on Guantanamo and related issues (and, for that matter, my social justice work, photography and music) for the next three months. In this post I explain how and why people like me – a reader-funded writer, activist and creator – have ended up being funded by my readers and supporters and not working for the mainstream media, how precarious the freedom of being independent is, and how the technological advances we’re all caught up in – and rarely stop to think about – continue to strip creators of money, and tend to only make money for those running the tech companies.
    If you can help out at all, it will be very greatly appreciated. $25 is just $2 a week for the next there months – not much, I hope, for all that I do – and if you can spare more I won’t discourage you! Thanks for your support!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    When my friend Diana Murtaugh Coleman shared this, she wrote:

    There are many reasons to support Andy’s ongoing independent work on Guantanamo and other issues of social justice.
    A) Andy is a committed, honest, and decent journalist and human being
    B) We are in strange and dangerous times, and a trustworthy voice with some distance is a very good thing
    C) The current U.S. president believes (not thinks) that “Guantanamo Bay does serve a very, very healthy purpose in our National Security” per Sean Spicer (remember him?)
    D) We have 1550 troops and 200 civilians to manage 41 detainees, 26 of who are being held without charge or trial.
    E) Our government is filled with officials chomping at the bit to profit on more weapons, more war, more prisons, more prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere.
    If you are not a fan of that happening, support the work of those who shine some light! Rock on and write, Andy Worthington!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks very much for your wonderfully supportive comments, Diana!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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