By Kayla Canne
City Hub has survived two long decades but in light of recent rising costs and decreasing revenues, the paper now needs your help. This week City Hub announced our first crowdfunding campaign,hoping to gather community support in fundraising $50,000 to help ensure the future of our paper. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/don-t-make-your-news-limited
Community funding isn’t a new phenomenon, but in the past 10 years it has certainly become easier with new crowdfunding platforms such as Pozible, Kickstarter and Indiegogo: platforms for entrepreneurs to find financial support from their communities and a place where you can donate to the organisations you find worthy.
As new media enterprises cannibalise old media revenues, many small and independent news organisations have turned to these campaigns to help fund individual stories and projects, kickstart new independent media, and reinvigorate and revive long-standing newspapers facing high publication costs and debt.
2014 was a big year for crowdfunding. Sydney’s Star Observer managed to raise over $100,000 to fund the restructuring of the paper after 35 years as a not-for-profit publication. Another alternative paper, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, also worked to collect enough money to fund both an extensive archive system and one last issue exploring the history of the paper after it was shut down.
Each of these scenarios relate in three ways: locals in these communities appreciated this independent voice within media, and realised that to keep that voice, they would have to chip in and provide support. Because of that, each of these campaigns were successful.
After two decades as a paper developed for the locals, City Hub hopes to see the same results throughout our next six week campaign.
“As a result of diminished local news coverage, Sydney has suffered,” publisher Lawrence Gibbons said. “As the government prepares to privatise publicly owned utilities, as more and more publicly owned land is sold off to developers, as more and more dwellings are crammed into our already densely populated inner city neighbourhoods without the infrastructure to support them, as the state government prepares to merge small and accountable local councils into massive, soulless urban bureaucracies, the need for fearless, independent news coverage is more vital than ever. There are countless stories begging to be told. And so we turn to you the community we serve and ask you to fund the stories you want.”
The first issue of City Hub was distributed on August 24, 1995 with the promise to “print the news and raise hell,” offering a free-of-charge alternative to Australia’s media conglomerates for over half a million residents across inner Sydney.
Over the next 10 years the paper expanded to adopt three new breakouts — City News, Inner West Independent and the Bondi View — each covering localised news in their area.
Throughout its 20 year reign, City Hub has remained a pioneer in free speech and freedom of the press, providing both a voice for the community and the news they deserve to hear.
City Hub established its reputation as the paper not afraid to ask the tough questions in the first issue, when we uncovered the government manipulation leading to Rupert Murdoch’s empire taking over the Showgrounds. Since then, the paper has been known for thoroughly investigating the actions of high-profile figures such as the Lord Mayor Clover Moore, reporting our findings even in the face of lawsuits in order to deliver honest news to the community.
Sydney has been sold off to developers block by block and City Hub has consistently reported on the behind-the-scenes deals that plague our community, providing a forum for local opposition that would otherwise go unheard. The paper produced substantial coverage on the controversial development of Barangaroo and the sell off of Millers Point, all while letting locals know how they could get involved.
The paper has twice been featured on ABC’s MediaWatch for marks of excellent journalism. In 1999, the paper exposed the corrupt politics behind the famous Chiquita Banana corporation and its sponsorship of Bananas in Pyjamas. Just a few years later, City Hub spent time further investigating Rupert Murdoch’s reports of the improper disposal of heroin needles behind a safe injecting site in Kings Cross, only to find the needles belonged to a nearby resident who used them to medicate her diabetic cat.
In their 10th anniversary issue, the paper spoke out against government censorship and called for an Australian bill of rights to protect the free speech of Australian citizens.
Since the beginning of publication, City Hub became a paper not afraid to stand up against the big guys while still valuing the stories and concerns of its neighbors. City Hub was published as an independent city newspaper that always kept the locals in mind, and so it has remained.
In July of 2014, the organisation was forced to revert back to one publication, City Hub, as a result of increasing production costs. However, the paper continues to cover and distribute news “from Bondi to Balmain”, keeping the interest of our readers at heart even amidst tough publishing decisions.
Now the paper is facing a loss of income. Any money raised throughout the crowdfunding campaign will help the paper stabilise debt and increase the longevity of the City Hub.
As a truly local paper, City Hub is also providing local rewards to contributors who show their support. The paper has worked to collect over 100 different giveaways as a way to thank their advocates. To see what;s on offer, to share the campaign with your friends and to contribute visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/don-t-make-your-news-limited