In 2013, Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, and I founded The Intercept to serve as a platform for the kind of adversarial, independent journalism we believed was missing from mainstream outlets. Central to our mission was editorial independence and journalistic freedom: empowering journalists to pursue their passions and convictions in confronting powerful factions and exposing corruption and injustice — without fealty to any politician or party.
The initial impetus for The Intercept was the need to create a journalistic environment where we could report on the Snowden archive with the fearlessness and aggressiveness those materials required. But from the start, we intended to build on that ethos and apply this style of journalism to all areas we covered. The first three years of The Intercept were devoted to this vision, and it continues to guide us as we expand.
As many of you know, The Intercept has been published and funded by First Look Media, founded by Pierre Omidyar. This support has been critical in enabling us to build our team and preserve editorial freedom for all of our writers. But we believe that diversifying our funding sources is imperative to maintaining this independence over the long term and continuing to expand our journalistic impact and reach.
On the simplest level, reader support will increase our funding and enable us to hire more great reporters, editors, designers, researchers, and others who make our journalism possible, ensuring that we continue to thrive and grow. But on a deeper level, being accountable to readers is a highly valuable attribute. Reader support transforms a journalistic outlet from a one-way conversation into a collective endeavor; it is an indispensable means of ensuring that coverage remains exclusively focused on the public interest.
Perhaps most important, reader support is key to our ability to maintain our status as a nonprofit journalistic venture, ensuring our stories are never influenced by click-bait or advertising pressures. That we are not geared toward profit has enabled us to keep our focus where it belongs: on high-impact, substantive, quality journalism.
From the time I began writing about politics on a free blogging platform back in 2005, reader support has been central to my ability to build a journalistic platform that is accountable to nobody but readers. That is the type of freedom and accountability we are determined to maintain at The Intercept, and turning to readers for support is a vital means of achieving that.
Finally, diversity of funding is a healthy model for journalism in general. We have been fortunate to have a publisher that has fully adhered to its commitment to support our journalism without any attempts to dictate or constrain what we do. But a funding model that relies on a range of supporters is inherently preferable to one that relies on a small handful or a single funder. Our new membership program is principally designed to fortify The Intercept for the long term and allow us to expand and strengthen the journalism we are doing now.