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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Nut Graph's Sobering Plan B

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If you’re Malaysian and spend time online, it would be very surprising if you’ve not ever heard of The Nut Graph (TNG). And if you’ve been keeping up with developments online, you’ll also probably know that TNG is ramping down operations. If you didn’t know, well, now you do.

But let’s hear it from TNG co-founder, Jacqueline Ann Surin, who was featured in the latest installment of PopTeeVee’s The Fairly Current Show.

Walski has had nothing but admiration for The Nut Graph, for their independent and daring approach to addressing current issues. But economics eventually pwns us all, one way or another, and therefore TNG has been forced to activate its Plan B.

It’s not quite a demise – and Walski certainly hopes that TNG will continue as long as it can – but with the massive scale-down, there will definitely be a dearth in meaningful and intelligent issue analysis when it comes to Malaysia-related goings on. 
(independent analysis without fear or favor, and more, in the full post)

As Jacqueline explained in The Fairly Current Show interview, without funding, TNG has become untenable to sustain. This, despite a number of people generously contributing to the online news analysis site.

In the latest installment of Shape of a Pocket, Jacqueline’s column in TNG, she explains what Plan B entails, and how it will effect The Nut Graph. Not surprisingly, the installment of the column is entitled The Nut Graph’s Plan B.

Plan B is premised on the belief that The Nut Graph can continue publishing and sustaining its presence without having a salaried team. And so, by the end of August 2010, the entire team, including I, will be retrenched. That way, I can focus fully on my role as editor and journalist without having to constantly worry about raising funds to keep the entire team fairly paid.

Plan B will be launched in September. It will see our office closed. But that won’t stop us from working from home. It will also see most, if not all of us, eventually being salaried elsewhere. But that won’t stop us from continuing to write for The Nut Graph.

Plan B will also see us slowing down the frequency of our publication from five days a week, to just once every Monday. And yes, we will be publishing fewer stories and will likely not be able to write news articles and features anymore. But that won’t stop us from still writing our columns and commentaries critically and fearlessly, and I hope, with impact. And it won’t stop us from continuing to offer our staple of Six Words, Found in Quotation and Found in Malaysia, and whenever we conduct a Found in Conversation, reports from there. We will also continue to welcome contributions from regular and guest columnists.

(source: The Nut Graph)

The Nut Graph team, image hosting by Photobucket It is difficult to not admire TNG’s team of journalists who have given us many an in-depth view of issues plaguing the nation. Even more admirable is their desire to continue to write, for no other reasons than conviction and passion, in light of the site needing to activate its Plan B.

Is there anything that you can do?

Well, short of finding someone, or several someones, to pump in funding, probably not a whole heck of a lot. The key thing that’s important to Jacqueline, and the rest of the TNG team, however, is that their independence is maintained. That condition is something most political-based, or even corporate-based funding, will find hard to live with.

Particularly when the modus operandi of TNG has been to tackle issues head on, something the more thin-skinned among us find disdainful.

Independence in the news and analysis world, as it turns out, comes with a price. And quite simply, that price is economic sustainability. Not from any threats from nay-sayers or political entities uncomfortable with the way the site has reported, but rather the ringgit and sen required to sustain operations.

Walski sincerely hopes that The Nut Graph can, and will, continue the good work they’ve done thus far. Plan B, or otherwise, let’s hope that TNG will be around for some time to come…