ImportantCool is a worker-owned journalism collective that will radically change the way the news is gathered, presented, and consumed.
We will give readers, not editors, control over stories. Patrons will vote on which projects get funded and which get dropped. We are even giving readers the chance to vote on which stories and pictures are included in our dead tree digest, “Paper Fetish”, and it’s biannual photo-special insert, “Radical Transparencies”. At ImportantCool, you will control the news.
In line with our core philosophy of radical transparency, ImportantCool will feature the Artefacts Cave, containing transcripts of interviews, documents, audio recordings, and any additional original source material behind our journalism.
Finally, we do not believe that paywalls or other subscription-for-access news sites really do justice to the democratizing power of the Internet. Because we believe in your right to know, at ImportantCool our articles, films, cartoons, podcasts, and photo-essays will always be free to access for everyone. Those who go the extra mile and support us will enjoy access and influence even beyond this unprecedented level.
At ImportantCool we believe in radical transparency: that we have to open up the news-production process to the end consumer, be they paying patrons or the casual reader. Our Artefacts Cave will provide all original source material to every story featured on the site.
The general public will be able to access, from any finished story or blog on the front page, the artefacts relevant to the work in question. For instance, for each quote in an article, contributors will include a link to the transcript and recording of the entire conversation so you can check and ensure that we are not taking them out of context or twisting their meaning.
Patrons of the site will have even greater access to our working materials than this, being able to search, tag, and download the artefacts as they are uploaded, including source materials being compiled for articles not yet published.
We will also be including “Writelines”: maps of the work a reporter does on each story, tracking their progress from the pitch through to the finished article; as well as any surrounding artefacts, blog posts, or editorial votes. That way you can see what research and evidence went into the story and decide for yourself how seriously to take it.
We will not cloak ourselves in the same secrecy we seek to strip from governments and concentrations of private power. At ImportantCool, you will know the providence of everything we do.
The Funding of Stories
When you become a patron of ImportantCool, in addition to gaining unfettered access to our Artefacts Cave you’ll also be handed the key to our Engine Room, where you get to decide which story makes the cut and which ones do not.
We figured that since our journalism is for you – and not for the men in suits of the mainstream media – we are going to have our journalists pitch directly to our patrons. They then get to decide which story is produced by voting and/or allocating funding to individual pitches.
The final products – including video pieces, stories, podcasts, ect. – will always be free for anyone to access. We believe putting concise, informative, and professionally finished content behind a paywall, thereby destroying its shareability, lessens its value to the conscientious news junkie. Media giants believe the news business is only viable by using paywalls and creating a false scarcity effect.
The Role of the Editor
In ancient Rome, the “editor” was the person, often the emperor or another senior general or dignitary, whose thumbs up or down would decide the life or death of a defeated gladiator in the coliseum. Like today’s newspaper moguls, the editors of Rome wielded immense power. Unlike the hacks in charge today (but like ImportantCool), Rome’s editors also took their lead from the people, roaring in the stands.
At ImportantCool we believe editors play a vital role in the smooth flow of stories and in ensuring all reporting is fair, accurate, and properly sourced. But, for us, they have no place in deciding which stories our journalists get funded to cover (at ImportantCool that’s your job).
Apart from these commissioned articles, our journalists will also produce commentary and blogs (the kind of things you’d have to pay us not to write), more or less at will. These pieces, written without the prior endorsement of patrons, will be compensated differently, on the basis of the traffic they drive.
For both spontaneous blog posts and serious commissioned articles, our editors will play a vital role in checking facts, grammar, and legal issues, but they won’t have the power to overrule what people want to read or watch, or what our journalists want to say.
Journalists and editors will seek to find consensus when there is a disagreement about what the final products should look like, and if that is impossible the discussion will be extended to the broader IC community, including our patrons.
Taking up the challenge of what WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange terms “scientific journalism” and in line with our core philosophy of media transparency, ImportantCool will feature an online database of interview transcripts, documents, audio recordings, and other original source material that gets used in making the news.
We keep source materials created by our journalists for all our stories in the Artefacts Cave, allowing you see the first-hand evidence that goes on to make the news, free from spin or agenda. We also capture the web content that we link to in full and store it in our archive, knowing that links can be fragile and subject to censorship.
All documents and files featuring in our Artefacts Cave will be open source; you will be able to download and share, visualize, or do what you will with the evidence provided. The news cycle has never been clearer.
For those who love the feel of pressed pulp, our dead tree digest will feature all of ImportantCool’s most engaging stories, stunning photo collections, original drawings, design work, and supplementary material, selected from the website by our patrons. Printed in limited runs on recycled paper with non-toxic inks, your edition of “Paper Fetish” will be an object of envy and desire.