From December 2015 when I began as The Young Turks first-ever reporter in the field to two and a half years later, I was fortunate enough to grow an audience by showing the stories of the downtrodden: the struggling, the poor, the poisoned, and frankly, the screwed by an ever-expanding 'United Corporations of America.'
In all of my travels across the country reporting for TYT— which included many trips to Flint, and Standing Rock, East Chicago, and beyond — the thought never crossed my mind to network or get contact information from wealthy folks for a later date.
From Reporting to Spreadsheets
It didn’t have to because 99 percent of the people I interviewed were what we now call the working poor or formerly middle class.
Fast forward to May 2018, and I find myself staring wearily at a double-edged sword. On one side, it was the aforementioned reporting on the stories corporate media wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot-pole that put me in a position to even dream of launching my own media network, much less do it.
On the other, more challenging end, I’d focused endlessly on speaking to poor and struggling people by choice, so when I found myself in the position of launching my own media network, I didn’t exactly have an extensive Rolodex of wealthy progressives on speed dial to call for investment or connections.
It’s this friction between who I am and what I’m passionate about covering and the resources needed to launch a new, reporting-in-the-field-centric media company that has consumed the last few months.
Straight up: I’m a reporter.
I’m good at identifying a story that is ignored, finding out who the players are, learning what’s really going on from those sources — SHOCKER, real people on the ground teach a reporter more about a story than “experts” or pundits — and then reporting on it.
But, I’ve had to step way outside of my element to tackle things I’m not naturally familiar with: launching a business and all the not so happy tidings that come with it.
First Things First
First, I spent hours and hours with my business partner working on a professional business plan — executive summaries, and budgets, and net income projections. My head was spinning 10 minutes into it.
Once that was finished, we had to finalize a name for the network and initiate the trademarking process with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Why was it that every damn name I wanted was snagged six months prior to me filing!?
Hell, I even went down to one lawyer’s office to try and muscle away from his client a name that he wasn’t yet using. No dice!
Next was finding an attorney to incorporate the business, which came with its own set of learning challenges like the differences between a C-Corp, an LLC, an S-Corp, and more.
For this, I had to boost my knowledge of business taxes, accounting, and insurance needs quickly. That same old head-spinning returned 10 minutes into a phone call with the attorney.
We then pivoted to finding someone to design a logo on the CHEAP, which also wasn’t as easy as I expected.
While doing all of this, I was also trying to do actual daily reporting on my new YouTube channel. I'm using it as an on-ramp leading to the launch of the actual network, which I envision as a team of independent journalists descending all over the country covering the stories no one else will (I’m going to cover the Virginia tree protests this coming week.)
While doing daily YouTube live streams from my apartment — complete with all the crappy lighting, video buffering, and spotty visuals that go with it — I’ve also produced media on Patreon, an online membership platform.
On Patreon alone I have created 1-2 podcasts a week, along with special behind-the-scenes video diaries, and once or twice per month video calls with Patrons, my paid subscribers.
Growing that paid subscriber base is vital for any new media company; the days of depending on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter for growth and advertising revenue are rapidly approaching an end as suppression of non-corporate, independent outlets grows.
I’m greatly encouraged to have gained over 750 paid Patrons between my two channels since my return to reporting on a daily basis at the end of February. Let me also add: This has been done with no funding or budget to advertise or get out in the field.
Growing The Content, Growing The Cash
As I grow the channels with a greater emphasis on nurturing the daily reporting on Patreon, I have had to tackle yet another thing totally outside of my natural wheelhouse: reaching out to individuals across ideological lines with money to invest in quality field reporting on The Disappearing Middle Class, environmental genocide, rampant government corruption nationally and on the state level, police and economic brutality aimed at minorities, and the endless war machine funneling funds to oligarchs at the expense of the United States.
I'd like to spend my time looking for facts rather than for funding, but alas, real reporting on a large scale costs money. It's precisely why corporate outlets shower you with the Trump-Russia-Stormy-Daniels-Industrial-Complex 24/7 instead of getting out in the field to cover real news.
The real news is what I’m working to do 24/7. Oh, what’s the name of our soon-to-be-launched network you might ask? Status Coup!
After all, it’s long overdue for a journalistic coup d'etat of the corporate-media-industrial-complex’s status quo. I hope you’ll be there when the revolution begins.