A little over a month ago, I launched one of the Special Projects I’ve been working on at my new job at the Freedom of the Press Foundation. The Threatened Outlets collection at Archive-It aims to capture the archives of news sites that we deem vulnerable to “the billionaire problem,” wherein wealthy individuals or organizations can eliminate unflattering coverage through litigation or by purchasing media companies altogether. From the launch announcement:
Those efforts help individual journalists. But another important thing we can do to reduce the effectiveness of this kind of attack on press freedom is to commit ourselves to the wholesale preservation of threatened sites.
In this case, we seek to reduce the “upside” for wealthy individuals and organizations who would eliminate embarrassing or unflattering coverage by purchasing outlets outright. In other words, we hope that sites that can’t simply be made to disappear will show some immunity to the billionaire problem.
To my surprise and delight, our launch received some nice and encouraging coverage, in WIRED, TechCrunch, The Next Web, The New York Times, and others. Sometimes when you’ve got your head down on something that feels like a niche topic, it’s nice to come up for air and realize that the general public is interested, too.