Ben Sayler

is creating Blue Swan News and Media

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My name is Ben Sayler and I am the founder and chief editor of Blue Swan.

At the end of his book Heat, journalist George Monbiot gives a sage bit of advice on taking action:

"...if this book has no encouraged you to want to do something, then I urge you to return it to the shop and demand your money back, for it has proved to be useless.

But do what? On the next pages is a list of names addresses of the organizations already campaigning against climate change and the activities which cause it. I want you to join them. I want you to set up your own group only if they turn out to be going nowhere: I have seen plenty of movements disintegrate through proliferation. I want you to find out how you can be most useful to them. But above all, I want you to make an imaginative leap seldom demanded of you by governments or advertisers or newspapers or teachers."

Heat was a formative book in my development as an activist and this quote has been a guiding principle in how I've spent my time and energy in the years since. 

Blue Swan is the culmination of years of organizing, research, and activist work being harnessed to build something new because what I needed didn't exist. 

At the time this project began, and to this day, there does not exist another online platform focused on covering politics and social issues in the context of climate upheaval that would allow for the range of direct reporting, long-form writing, activist training, and science journalism that I believe in writing. Moreover, I wanted a platform that would do all of this in a way that actively combated the overwhelm and exhaustion that's become synonymous with keeping up with the news.

Now more than ever people are being left with a choice between trying to stay informed without having a panic attack and disengaging from the news and social media completely. While the site will grow and change over time in response to reader feedback and political circumstances, there are a few core principles that independent ownership affords that will remain unchanging:

  • The news will always be delivered with facts and analysis clearly and explicitly separated. There will be no editorializing in the reporting of the raw data of the story.
  • The news will always be reported from only the most reliable and vetted of sources. Primary sources, respected scientific journals, and only the most careful and impartial news platforms will be referred to in reporting of the news.
  • The analysis portion of any news story will be done in line with principles of global justice, climate sustainability, global economic equity, and social progressivism. This position will remain non-negotiable and uncompromising in all content published on this site.
  • There will be no advertising revenue of any kind. There will be no ads displayed on the site. There will be no business partnerships or organizational partnerships of any kind involving money or endorsement.
  • There will be total transparency of operations. All operational costs will be posted on a bi-annual basis. All personal income (including gifts) of any and all authors on this site will be posted on an annual basis. All conflicts of interest will be disclosed without exception.
  • Any corrections we discover or are made aware of will be published as soon as possible, regardless of when they are discovered relative to the story's original publishing date.
  • All content published on this site will remain free to access in perpetuity
As far as funding is concerned, this site will rely exclusively on donations and subscriptions from individuals who want to support the site. No big sponsorship deals, no advertising, no licensing of content, just direct support straight from readers.

This is where you come in.

Running a site like this is a full-time job and in order to maintain independence from outside influence, and to remain accountable to the people this site is meant for, the only source of funding for Blue Swan will be Patreon.

No grants, no sponsorships, no ads EVER. Blue Swan will continue to exist only as long as there are enough subscribers to support it. I believe this funding model to be essential for ensuring ongoing accountability, transparency, and trust between myself (and any others who may join the site) and the readers. 

As different funding goals are met I will be able to expand the functionality and content provided by Blue Swan. This could mean additional types of content like Podcasts or a video series, to bringing on new writers and tech support. All of these decisions - how Blue Swan grows and what changes get prioritized - will be directed by feedback from Patreon supporters.

What this site becomes, and what needs it serves, is to up to you. My commitment to every reader and supporter going forward is that Blue Swan will prioritize accountability, transparency, and journalistic integrity above all else. Your support will mean that this site can exist and grow in a way that does justice to the mission of bringing a more productive, more responsible, and more adaptive news platform to the political landscape. 

In solidarity and service,
Ben Sayler


Why's it called Blue Swan?

The name Blue Swan is adapted from the theory of Black Swan events put forth by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The theory says that many of the pivotal moments throughout modern history were high-impact events that prior history couldn't predict and that were later rationalized as explainable and predictable. Climate change would seem to be just such an event, only of a scale and impact unlike anything humans have faced before.

Because the scope of climate change encompasses all news and human affairs, and because of the ecological nature of this crisis, I have chosen the name Blue Swan.

What if I just want to donate a single amount?

I may allow for one-time donations at some point in the future, but for now there are a couple reasons I've chosen to only allow for support exclusively through Patreon. 

For one, the Blue Swan's expenses will be relatively consistent from month to month. There's no physical product being sold and there's never any shortage of news to cover. The budgetary demands of the site are tied directly to my living expenses and the costs of maintaining the necessary website subscriptions and maintenance services.

Having a consistent, reliable source of monthly donations helps me to determine how much money I'll need to earn from outside work. By relying exclusively on recurring donations I can plan further in advance and budget for site maintenance.

The other reason I'm not allowing for one-time donations at this time is that funding the site entirely through Patreon makes financial transparency simple and clean. At any time, any reader can visit this page and see exactly how much money the site is generating. While there are certainly other ways of providing this information, having Blue Swan's financial support happen entirely through Patreon makes keeping things transparent a breeze.

If at some point down the line this policy changes it will be reflected on this page.

This is a lot of work for just one person, how are you going to keep up?

It's true that running the technical side of Blue Swan while also editing and producing all of the content will be a lot of work. At the same time, this project has been in development for a while and I've had plenty of opportunities to hone my process for keeping it up and running. 

In fact, the initial idea for Blue Swan came about a little over three years ago. Since then it's gone through many unpublished iterations as I honed in on what I wanted the site to become and how I would approach writing for it. Throughout Blue Swan's development, I have received, and continue to receive, a great deal of support and assistance from friends and colleagues who have donated their time and skills as editors, coding experts, and artistic consultants.

This launch is a culmination of all those years of effort and countless generous contributions. 

Putting out content on this site five days a week will be a full-time 40-50 hour (or more) a week job, but at this point, the process behind that work is a well-oiled machine. I'm fully prepared to maintain Blue Swan at that level for the foreseeable future while also continuing to expand the site with new and exciting features!
$69 of $1,000 per month
Once this goal is met I will be able to post news coverage three days a week - Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 
This will be enough to cover committing to Blue Swan as a part-time job and will ensure regular updates are possible. 

Upon meeting the goal, all supporters will receive a Thank You note and Blue Swan logo sticker in the mail!
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By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 4 exclusive posts
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 4 exclusive posts

Recent posts by Ben Sayler

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