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  • Writer's pictureAlexis Morillo

The Need for Independent, Feminist Media

Updated: Oct 8, 2018

Assessing the ethics behind Bitch Media's extensive fundraising campaign

If you’re subscribed to Bitch Media’s email newsletter, your inbox was just as flooded as mine this past weekend. And if you aren’t, then you may not know about the extensive fundraising campaign Bitch launched all last week.

Bitch is an independent, feminist media outlet that critiques popular culture and prides itself on having a “fresh, revitalizing voice in contemporary feminism, one that welcomes complex arguments and refuses to ignore the contradictory and often uncomfortable realities of life in an unequivocally gendered world,” according to their mission statement. In my opinion, independent, feminist media is more important now that ever before, which is why this fundraising campaign can be interesting to analyze.

Being a non-profit, independent outlet makes it necessary for Bitch media to do their own fundraising since they aren’t backed by any big companies or tech kingpins (I’m looking at you, Washington Post). In their 2016 audience survey press release, they outlined the feedback their readers gave them about what they could be doing better. In response to a critique on how often they send out fundraising related emails, Bitch explained that this sort of outside funding is what allows Bitch to maintain its integrity. They wrote:

“Bitch Media is built on the idea that feminist media must be independently funded in order to maintain its integrity. We’re not selling you crap disguised as a feminist must-have, and you’ll never be confused as to whether or not you’re reading a “sponsored” post. But the tradeoff for that level of certainty—if we want to keep our independent, nonprofit status intact—is that we quite literally don’t have a choice but to send fundraising emails.”

They’re basically saying that in order to create the best and most truthful content they can they survive off of outside sources. Bitch doesn’t want to get their funding from unethical advertisements or companies unrelated to their brand’s values. They depend on some source of audience economic assistance and in turn provide the audience with the best possible content.

Due to the fact that independent media tends to struggle with funds, When I received multiple emails in a row regarding donations I wasn’t surprised. These emails aren’t all that uncommon, especially from Bitch. Their September fundraising campaign was pushed heavily onto their email subscribers throughout the last week of the month as they urged readers to donate in anyway they can. Options like joining their membership program “The Rage” at different monthly rates, subscribing to receive Bitch Media’s print magazine counterpart, and traditional donating whatever amount they could.

Screenshot by Alexis Morillo
Only two of the nine emails in this screenshot are unrelated to the September fundraising campaign.

Bitch had a total goal of $35,000 raised and didn’t make that goal by their original deadline. So what did they do? They extended the fundraising campaign for 12 additional hours with $7,479 left to raise. “While we would normally just call it and hustle a little bit extra in the next few weeks, the September campaign happens at a critical point in Bitch’s financial calendar. And not making this goal? Well, it just isn’t an option,” they wrote in their follow up email, the fourth in a 48 hour span that was sent out relating to the campaign.

In the first five hours after their campaign’s 12 hour extension, they reached their goal.

Although sifting through my inbox at the end of the weekend was a daunting task, through a feminist, journalistic lens this fundraising campaign should be eye-opening. Rather than a desperate plea, it was a call to action. In a world where media outlet biases and economic ties to big companies play a hand in the work that gets published, independent media is filling up that gap with transparency and passion. And sometimes all they need is some monetary support to really get the job done, and done well.

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