'Slow news' venture Tortoise Media quick to smash fundraising target of Â£75,000 within hours of launch
The new â€œslow newsâ€� venture led by former Times editor and BBC News director James Harding was quick to smash its fundraising target of Â£75,000 last night, doing so within a matter of hours.
Tortoise Media, which is selling founding memberships ahead of its launch next year,Â has raised more than Â£131,000 from nearly 500 people at the time of writing.
The project promises “open journalism” and a “different kind of newsroom” which will be run open news conferences called “Thinkins”. A digital edition, on app and online, is set to go live in January.
It uses the motto: “slow down, wise up”, with the team saying: “We don’t do breaking news, but whatâ€™s driving the news. Not the news as it happens, but when itâ€™s ready.”
Tortoise will publish just five stories a day on its app, website or email newsletter, it has said.
The founders comprise Harding alongside former Dow Jones president Katie Vanneck-Smith, former US ambassador to Sweden Matthew Barzun and Ceci Kurzman.
They said they wanted it to be the biggest crowdfunding campaign page for a journalism project in Kickstarter history.
On the fundraising page, they said: â€œIf we do, weâ€™ll have the best possible chance to create a new type of newsroom, a new way of organised listening, and a sustainable future for journalism.
â€œThe more people that come on board, the wider the range of voices contributing, the better the chance weâ€™ll have to make this amazing.â€�
Supporters of the campaign are invited to pledge between Â£1 and Â£8,000.
Four people have already pledged Â£8,000 to become a patron, the package which the founders said would enable them to take their Tortoise on tour to prisons, hospitals, places of worship and other places to â€œhear from as many different and varied voices and views as possibleâ€�.
Patrons also receive recognition on a wall at the Tortoise office – set to be based in London – and in all its notes and Thinkins, as well as a dinner in their honour, lifetime membership, two tickets to the launch party in the spring, a handwritten thank you letter and Tortoise Quarterly.
Twenty-six other people have pledged Â£1,000 or more to become either five-year members or Â£2,500 to become lifetime members.
In a video on the Kickstarter page, 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.”
On the Thinkin concept, she said it would be a “live event where you have James or another editor host a conversation in the room to hear from everybody in the room”.
“It’s a system for us to listen to different voices, but to inform and have a better point of view.”
Harding added: “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.”
Ahead of launching the Kickstarter yesterday, Tortoise announced it had hired Newsnight policy editor Christopher Cook.
Cook said: “This coming February will mark five years for me at Newsnight. Iâ€™ve done two general elections, two referendums, had a hand in two Royal Television Society awards and suffered hundreds of late nights. Itâ€™s time for something new.
“This is a hard call for me – the programme is doing well. I do regret not spending more time working for [Newsnight editor] Esme Wren.
Itâ€™s also a delight to be able to spend your working day with friends – creative, smart and fun friends at that.
“But I’m enormously excited to be joining Tortoise. It’s not just building something from the ground up, it’s building something new. A proper adventure.”
Tortoise launched yesterday on Twitter, where it has bought the @Tortoise handle.
Tweets by the previous account holder have been deleted but can still be seen in advanced searches. They include: “I ain’t no hipster, but girl I can make your hips stir,” and: “Michael Jackson is my shit.”
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Source: Digital Journalism