The not-for-profit organisation, which provides in-depth analysis and coverage of issues and events that are under-reported in the mainstream media, needs a total of £250,000 in order to continue.
"Most of our contributors don't get paid, they donate their time and expertise," editor-in-chief Magnus Nome told Journalism.co.uk. "So, in the sense of publishing 53 articles a week, mostly very high quality and in-depth, we're probably the most efficient publisher out there.
Since its inception in 2000 openDemocracy has featured articles by Kofi Annan, George Soros, Shirin Ebadi and David Blunkett, among others, and is regularly funded by philanthropic foundations and organisations. The £200,000 pledged by such organisations for this year's budget will only be released upon the site raising a further £50,000 through its own fundraising efforts, which includes the fundraising page on the website.
"We want to be accessible to people across the world, we're read in every country in the world," continued Nome. "And while many of our readers could pay if they had the inclination, there are quite a lot who couldn't. We don't want to draw a line between those two groups."
The novelist and multi-award winning investigative journalist Clare Sambrook, who won the Paul Foot Award and Bevins Prize in 2010 for her work on the detention of asylum seekers' children, has been involved with openDemocracy since 2009. She described the site as "like a home for the public intellectual" in a way that other, larger media outlets have failed to maintain.
The site is "a home for lively intellectual debate and a platform for public intellectuals to communicate with the rest of us", she told Journalism.co.uk.
In her work as co-editor of the UK-focused section OurKingdom, she collaborates with citizen journalists and researchers on UK-centric issues such as the immigration detention of children and the effects of outsourcing public services. However, she said that this is only a small part of the important work of openDemocracy and highlighted how important the website's international readership is, including how well regarded it is in Russia for its analysis of issues in the region.
"All of this is happening under one umbrella," she said. "For example, my deep, narrow investigative journalism is happening in the same arena as more academic pieces about the nature of society and aspects of democracy. You can find all that within openDemocracy and it's educating itself."
Public intellectuals, prominent journalists and leading public figures have been sounding their support for openDemocracy and its work.
Former children's commissioner for England, Sir Al Aynsley-Green said: "OurKingdom’s relentless 'citizen-led' advocacy contributed substantially in forcing government to end its policy of detention before deportation. There is an incontrovertible need for OurKingdom continuing to champion the most vulnerable in society by exposing the reality of their lives and the failure and often duplicity of government and officials.”
Paul Lewis, special projects editor at the Guardian, said of openDemocracy: "When some newspapers are hacking away at budgets for investigative reporting, the likes of OurKingdom is critical to a functioning democracy. It would be disingenuous to say Clare Sambrook's work on detention, to take just one example, influenced the mainstream media — it led the pack."
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