In 2016 we inherited a site from the founders of Byline.com which – by this point – was the only major surviving crowdfunded news site left. The market leaders, Contributoria and Beacon Reader, were closing with massive losses.
The new directors of Byline, Stephen Colegrave and Peter Jukes, were quick to identify that crowdfunding alone would not support independent journalism.
The successes – such as Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder or James Patrick’s ground breaking ‘Alternative War’ exploration of Russian intervention – were hard to predict. Meanwhile, many other worthy projects and journalists were going underfunded.
That’s why we launched Byline Festivalalong with dozens of others of live events in 2017. In partnership with the Frontline Club, has been a big hit with 5,000 attending the world’s only festival of free speech and independent journalism in its second year, to hear hundreds of journalists speak about their work, as well as comedy from John Cleese and Alexei Sayle, and music from Pussy Riot and Badly Drawn Boy.Now into its third year Byline Festival is a sustainable venture and we can look to expand the Byline brand.
Though the funding of individual journalistic projects is vital, the advent of Trump and Brexit has made us acutely aware of the dangers of misinformation, and the importance of accurate, accessible news and the underfunding of investigative journalism.
Byline.com is a crowdfunded platform on which the writers are commissioned and paid for by the readers. There is no editorial control of the output – because that would defy the point of that direct relationship. But it’s hard to crowdfund a top secret investigation – for obvious reasons! And we acutely felt the need for a properly commissioned, fact-checked and sub-edited publication.
Hence our expansion to the Byline Times which launches in a week.
The Future for Byline.com
This site is the heart of our brand and the origin of our mission. However, we are committed never to have advertising on this site and the current bespoke software we inherited is almost impossible to modify into a proper content management system. (For any coders out there who want to help it’s written in Json).
We still think it’s important to develop a direct relationship between journalists and reader, we plan to migrate the Byline.com current site to a more up to date platform to preserve all the thousands of articles, and the payment system by which you support your individual writers.
If any can help in the migration of the current content to a more flexible platform, do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
But now we want to pay journalists direct and commission investigations. So do contact us if you have a story on email@example.com –we’re open for business