By Mike Small
Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures. New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it. – Jeremy Heimans
We are all on the move. It feels like a dam has been busted open and we’re all scooting along on the wave. Suddenly no-can-do has become let’s do-it-now. Scotland has changed forever. Change feels good. We’re trying to keep up with it all and reflect it back to you. Were trying to change too here at Bella and with your help [MASSIVE THANKS] we can make the transition up to the next level. I just wanted to write a quick post responding to the various questions people have raised with us about our plans.
There’s been quite a few people asking ‘Why did you change the design?’ ‘Why do you need money?’ ‘I thought it was all free anyway?’ and variants of this. The site has been redesigned professionally to improve navigation and resolve key issues about how people used the site – specifically the old design featured the one ‘top’ story so much that people would read it and only it. If you are publishing several times a day it’s then difficult for people to ‘see’ these articles in the old design. The second reason is that it will now function and be readable across all devices and platforms, and with people increasingly browsing on phones and tablets etc we needed to do this. As for the need for funds, I’ve been working on this in a voluntary capacity for eight years. It’s just become unsustainable (emotionally, psychologically & financially) to squeeze it into my life without being paid. We won’t lose our distinctive edge – but we will be on a surer footing.
Some people have said ‘Why don’t you collaborate with all the others?’ ‘Why do I have to give money to you AND such and such?’ We are serious about building closer links with key alt media partners. So we’ll be hosting monthly planning meeting with all the progressive alternative media outlets in Scotland and an annual big new media gathering with training, workshops, talks, films, skills-exchange and discussion. This annual event will also be an opportunity for Bella readers and supporters to come together and help shape the project. We’ll also build this into our events plan so we have other opportunities for people to contribute their ideas.
Breakdown of Costs
I am crowd-funding my salary, aiming for £30,000. I have three small kids and that’s what it costs to keep the show on the road. The other costs are a budget for each of our editorial teams to work and commission from, including more international coverage, arts and culture, community (with reporting from across the whole of Scotland not just the central belt), innovation, social justice and ecology. We want to allocate £9000 – which is £750 a month for freelancers. That’s £90 an article. This helps support some of the great new writing we’ve been producing for some time. Our running costs are minimal but we want to invest in marketing so we are reaching out beyond our current readership. We can do this cheaply and effectively with newspaper advert and poster campaigns, we’ve allocated £1000 to this. We have office costs of £200 a month, that’s £2,400. Other costs are: running media training events £1700, annual alt media conference £2500, short docs and films £2000, cartoons and photography £1800.
Plans for the Future
This is make or break for us, we, I, really need your support. I hope we can do it because I think we can contribute to the change process. This is new power.