Tortoise Media, the journalism venture from former Times editor and BBC News director James Harding, has launched a Kickstarter campaign looking to raise Â£75,000 in one month.
In its pitch for money, the team behind Tortoise promises what it calls â€œopen journalismâ€� and a â€œdifferent kind of newsroomâ€�.
Digital editions, running on a dedicated app and website, are planned to go live in January next year ahead of a public launch next spring.
Tortoise Media says its motto is: â€œSlow down, wise up.â€�
â€œWe don’t do breaking news, but whatâ€™s driving the news,â€� it claims on the fundraising page. â€œNot the news as it happens, but when itâ€™s ready.â€�
Under the heading: â€œWe have a problem: news has become noiseâ€�, the Kickstarter page reads: â€œWe are overwhelmed by information. The problem isnâ€™t just fake news or junk news, because thereâ€™s a lot thatâ€™s good â€“ itâ€™s just that thereâ€™s so much of it, and so much of it is the same.
â€œMost of it is in a hurry. A lot is partial and confusing. Too many people chasing the news, but missing the story. Itâ€™s made people anxious and distrustful. Itâ€™s not nearly fun or funny enough.
â€œNo wonder weâ€™ve all been feeling bewildered and, frankly, exhausted. Drowned out and locked out of power.â€�
The new media brand’s co-founders are: Harding, also its editor, former Dow Jones president Katie Vanneck-Smith, also its publisher, former US ambassador to Sweden Matthew Barzun, also its chairman, and Ceci Kurzman, also its independent director.
The team says they will not cover every story and will not attend press conferences, but will â€œtake time to see the fuller picture, to make sense of the forces shaping our future, to investigate whatâ€™s unseenâ€�.
It also tells potential donors and members: “Donâ€™t be surprised if you find a moral at the end. We donâ€™t just report on stories; we take an interest in them. We care what happens next.”
In a promotional video for Tortoise Media, Vanneck-Smith said: “We want to be a new choice for people, who are looking for something a little more thoughtful, a little less overwhelming.”
Tortoise says it is focused on five key areas: technology, natural resources, identity, finance and longevity.
Central to what Tortoise Media is offering readers is a series of evening â€œopen news conferencesâ€� called The Thinkin, which will run every evening Monday to Thursdays at its London newsroom and are open to members.
â€œItâ€™s modelled on what we call a leader conference in the UK, an editorial board in the US,â€� the page explains.
â€œItâ€™s a forum for civilised disagreement. A place to sift through what we know to come to a clear, concise point of view. Weâ€™re opening it up to youâ€¦
â€œTune in or come in. We want to hear what you think, drawn from your experience, energy and expertise.Â Donâ€™t worry if you think you donâ€™t know enough to comment â€“ we all feel that way.â€�
The team will prepare a set of â€œTortoise Notesâ€� for every Thinkin, which will offer a guide on the topic being discussed â€“ â€œwhether itâ€™s cryptocurrencies or the Marvel movie franchisesâ€� â€“ and will offer a â€œTortoise Takeâ€� at the end â€“ an opinion informed by whatâ€™s been said.
Vanneck-Smith said the Thinkin was a “system for us to listen to different voices, but to inform and have a better point of view”. It will go on tour twice a month, she said, visiting “churches, retirement homes, prisons, refugee camps” and other places.
Harding said: “If we get that right [it] should lead us to a different kind of journalism, and one that I hope that people will feel they can not just get a handle on the world from but also feel they can be a part of.”
The team also promises a â€œslow newsfeedâ€� called the Tortoise Daily which will appear on a dedicated app, website and in email inboxes once a day. It will run to â€œno more than five concise pieces, each tackling one subject or story in depthâ€�, according to the fundraising page.
A â€œsmall book of big readsâ€� called the Tortoise quarterly also promises â€œmodern fables, true tales, old stories re-examined, new ones revealedâ€�.
On the Kickstarter page, supporters can donate from Â£1 while memberships to Tortoise Media are available at various pricing levels, from Â£10 for a â€œstarter memberâ€� under 30-years-old, to Â£150 for a â€œfounding memberâ€�.
A â€œfriendâ€� option charges Â£500 for a five-year membership, which includes a Tortoise-branded book bag and a “slow down, wise up” digital poster and unlimited access to Thinkins.
Individual membership will cost Â£250 a year when Tortoise launches officially, the page says.
Tortoise promises to be independent, not party political, and without a commercial agenda. It says it does notÂ have a single owner, but a â€œmix of minority investorsâ€� and will not carry adverts â€œor amass eyeballs to sell your cookiesâ€�.
The company claims the money pledged by supporters and members will pay the reportersâ€™ salaries, go towards the Tortoise Media platform, design, live Thinkins and pay for the brand to go on tour to â€œplaces of worship, retirement homes, prisons, schools all over the world, to the places where different voices are heardâ€�.
The fundraising campaign, which went live today, closes on 15 November. It has already reached more than Â£40,000 at the time of writing.
In a promotional video for Tortoise, Vanneck-Smith said: “We want to be a new choice for people, who are looking for something a little more thoughtful, a little less overwhelming.”
Source: Digital Journalism