17 November 2013
About Important Cool
ImportantCool is a worker-owned journalism collective which 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 quarterly dead tree digest, Paper Fetish, and its 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 Artifacts Cave, containing transcripts of interviews, documents, audio recordings, and any additional original source material behind our journalism.
We will let users collate, arrange, and comment on all stories, blogs, and artifacts; creating a unique “RemICs” (a remix of IC content, get it?) [HTML link explainer] each time, the best of which, as determined by the community, will be featured on the site’s front page.
Finally, we do not believe that paywalls or other subscription-for-access news sites really do justice to the democratizing power of the Internet. 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 [link to support options] 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 Artifacts 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 artifacts 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 artifacts as they are uploaded, including source materials for articles which journalists are still compiling.
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 artifacts, blog posts, or editorial votes.
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 Artifacts Cave you’ll also be handed the key to our Engine Room, where you get to decide which story makes the cut and which one does 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.
We will also be operating a digital wallet system whereby any site user can pay to access the site’s numerous unique new features, such as navigating using the writelines or the interactive transcripts.
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.
Help us prove them wrong.
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). Though when it comes to blogs with no upfront costs – the kind of things you’d have to pay us not to write – then even they won’t be able to stop us.
We will, however, be rewarded for such blog work with magic “Internet Points” (which will be important in determining how we divvy up the hoochand pizza) according to how many of you view it.
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, especially even, the patrons who have shown interest in this and similar stories.
Being worker-owned, ImportantCool will give unprecedented editorial freedom to the journalists covering everything from philosophy and economics, to music and sport. We believe good journalism is a civic responsibility and in the public interest. We work for our readers, donors, and patrons and we will never lose sight of who we’re writing, shooting, and drawing for.
In addition to being our own bosses we want our readers to participate in the site. From deciding on funding for stories, to remICsing their favorite news products, to sharing open source artifact data, we want as many people to have their say on what goes on ImportantCool throughout the entire process.
We know that everyone and their mother’s blogs are saying the mainstream media model needs to adapt faster to the age of the Internet. Here at ImportantCool, we’re not tweaking or adjusting the traditional news model, we’re inverting the decision-making process completely, putting our journalistic instincts and the interests of our patrons ahead of editorial authority, without discarding the vital safety net they provide for journalists and readers.
Why Should You Care?
We are giving you the chance not only to access some of the best independent journalism from around the world but also the opportunity to be a part of every stage of the news cycle.
We want to change the way that news is produced and we need your help. Have you ever wondered why some stories don’t get covered in the world of ivory-tower journalism? Ever been annoyed by the bias displayed by some news organizations? Ever wanted to shout at your screen because of the easy rides handed out to people in power by the fence-sitters of the global media complex? We have.
Traditional media, by failing to give people the power to alter or influence its output and by refusing to divulge its processes, is keeping secrets; be they protests that go uncovered or clandestine government deals that go unexplored. Too often it fails to perform journalism’s most basic functions: to inform the public and to hold those in power truly accountable.
We believe in a fundamentally inclusive media model, where people hold sway, and where the little man or woman find their voice represented in print. This is why we believe you should care about ImportantCool.
Beyond the public interest justification for the new website, there’s also the fact that being able to interact with the journalistic process can be deeply engaging, and even a lot of fun. By exploiting the power of the Internet in ways that have never before been imagined by any news organisation, ImportantCool puts unprecedented power at the fingertips of paying users, patrons, and those who operate a digital wallet.
Using the Writelines to make associations between stories and between artifacts, making RemICses in their own time, and commenting on items published on the website, we hope that readers get the type of experience that regular, flat online stories do not deliver. We think ImportantCool will offer a mind-altering, radical, step-up experience that will keep readers coming back for more and more.
You can help change the news with ImportantCool in a number of ways:
We believe journalism is a service and that journalists should be paid for the service they provide. Philanthropy is one way that we hope to be able to deliver the quality journalism of ImportantCool to as many people as possible.
Donate to ImportantCool and you will receive full access to our Artifacts Cave and Engine Room, as well as four editions of our quarterly print digest, Paper Fetish. You’ll become part of the team deciding the editorial agenda. We all want quality journalism. This is your chance to have a say in it.
You can subscribe to ImportantCool for a small monthly contribution. This will give you full access to all of ImportantCool’s features, as well as the voting rights to stories, films, essays, and more.
Subscribe to ImportantCool and you become much more than a reader. You will be our patron, you can set the news agenda, communicate directly with journalists, and observe and influence every stage of the newsmaking process. Welcome aboard.
Get a Digital Wallet
ImportantCool’s paid-for content will also be accessible through micropayments. Want to comment and share your thoughts with a journalist? Want to remICs a story and show it to the world? Want to jump from a specific line in a transcript to the equivalent point in the recording? Or access the full catalogue of artifacts created by this journalist?
You can do all these things and more by keeping a little change in your digital wallet, paying as little as two cents at a time.
While we feel that journalists need to be paid, we do not believe in making people pay for the work journalists produce. The Internet has democratized information and we want to keep it that way, so all our news output will always be free for anyone to access.
But we want even more people talking about ImportantCool. For a limited time, you will be able to access ImportantCool’s Artifacts Cave and Engine Room with the same functionality as a paying patron simply by sharing our stories on social media. After all, we don’t want to take up all the buzz.
The Bolsheviks and The Beatles
It’s amazing what a small group of committed individuals can achieve. They can overthrow regimes and they can provide a soundtrack for a generation. They can be important and they can be cool. Sometimes they can be both. They can change the world.
The Bolsheviks and The Beatles is ImportantCool’s blog, where our associates will post articles, essays, photos, and films aimed at getting people talking. It’s our first chance to show you what we can do and your first chance to show us what you can do with it. Let the feedback loop begin.
Welcome to ImportantCool.
ImportantCool’s Engine Room is a layer of our website that puts you in control of our coverage. Think of it like a news meeting without the omnipotent editor deciding which story makes the cut.
Inside our Engine Room, patrons and donors to ImportantCool will be able to vote on pitches delivered by journalists to our readers. Each associate will provide a rough outline of the project they plan to deliver, including timeframe and estimated costings, then it’s over to you.
If you like the sound of a piece of writing or pitched photo journal, you can allocate your vote to it. If you appreciate the work of a particular journalist you can allocate funding to individual associates or individual stories. You can even suggest stories for our journalists to cover through real time interaction with associates and others in the ImportantCool community.
In honor of what WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange terms “scientific journalism” and in line with our core philosophy of radical transparency, ImportantCool will feature an online database of interview transcripts, documents, audio recordings and all the original source material that gets used in making the news.
Our Artifacts Cave will be accessible to all patrons, donors and those using our digital wallet system and will allow you see the first-hand evidence that goes on to make the news, free from spin or agenda.
All documents and files featuring in our Artifacts Cave will be open source; you can download and share, visualise or do what you will with the evidence provided. The news cycle has never been clearer.
Paper Fetish/RadICal Transparencies
Paper Fetish is ImportantCool’s quarterly dead tree digest, featuring the best of our online stories, photo essays, cartoons, and more, all chosen by you. It’s what we’re leaving behind after the power dies, the transistors fail, and the hard disk plates cease to turn. And you get to decide what makes it in.
RadICal Transparencies is the annual picture book of the masses, containing all your favorite photo essays, illustrations, cartoons, and screen grabs, accompanied by blurbs from the artists themselves. The cut, as ever, is decided upon by all of us as contributors, editors, subscribers, and patrons.
Paper Fetish and RadICal Transparencies are not your ordinary periodicals, they will be made with 100 percent recycled material, printed with vegetable-based paints. They’re everything of supreme importance and superlative “cool” that we have. No chaff. Only wheat. Attractive, timely, and no bullshit.