My 3 Years of Being a Fully Crowdfunded Journalist!! How’s that Possible? How’s it Been? What Next?

In 2014 while covering Donbass, for the first part I worked with the channel RT – submitting my video material to them. In this time, I had full freedom to film, and upload whatever I saw, to you YouTube channel, which I did, and even in 2014, my priority was to develop this, my own portal. In the later months of 2014, and start of 2015, I did some work for the Russian channel Zvezda, but ended this associated at the start of 2015. And since then? Well, since February 2015, I’ve been a completely crowdfunded correspondent. 

In 2015, I decided to give crowdfunding – still a relatively new concept then – a go while considering all options (earlier, crowdfunding just hadn’t seemed viable). So it was, I worked on in 2015 using a combination of my savings, and some crowdfunding. And I made a few realisations. That crowdfunding is not that easy – everyone has bills to pay, etc, and it’s hard to get people to make their own financial commitment to journalism, when journalism is everywhere, and free. Yet I also realised – it’s do-able. If I live modestly, keep costs down, it’s do-able.

And more, having worked for channels before, and the inevitable constraints that brings, then experiencing the freedom of being completely independent which crowdfunding brings, it became not ‘a’ way to continue my work, but the only way. No one tells you what to do, say, or where to go, all the decisions are your own. Complete freedom, independence. So it was, at the start of 2016, I released this video declaring my future as a fully crowdfunded correspondent – 

Now of course, with this freedom, and possibility, come responsibilities, and challenges. Anyone who makes a donation to my work expects me to fulfil my side of the commitment – to make interesting, original, unique reportage which reach a wide audience, make a difference, make their contribution count. So, I have to always think about how to do this, where to go, and what to film for challenging reportage which couldn’t, or wouldn’t be done by anyone else.

That means monitoring comments, viewing figures on my YouTube channel, and more. Making sure there is always fresh content, from at times unexpected places, but always actual, relevant. I don’t always get it right, at times in these three years I’ve missed the mark. But, I’ve learned from these times, and when it’s hit home, it’s hit home – my reportage from Crimea, in English, undisputed number 1 on YouTube in 2017, for example.

3 years on, almost 3000 videos on my YouTube channel, over 60 million views, references in media all over the world. Reportage on everything from Brexit to immigration in Germany (that, over 1 million hits). the jungle in Calais, places as diverse as Daugavpils in LatviaBelval in Luxembourg. Of course, Donbass, Crimea, and mainland Russia. And more – recently, South Ossetia – 

Special reportage, films, more, for 3 years, all completely independent. Not supported by any company, organisation, or corporation. Supported by people like you, reading this, who want to keep independent journalism alive. From my side? Well, crowdfunding does not bring riches, have a look for yourself, and that’s the point, it’s not about money at all. It’s about truthful journalism, reportage of things as they are, showing things as they are, exposing propaganda for what it is.

And it’s not about being on the mainstream channels either – they’d never have it. It’s about putting truthful reports out there in the public domain easily findable, so anyone who wants to find them, can!

And thanks to you, in the 3 years, I’ve raised enough to finance my work.  The 3 years have brought success, world-watched, world changing reportage. But the best is still to come – better reportage, better films, bigger projects. And all thanks to those people who want to make their own contribution, of whatever size, to helping truth win, in the world of information war we live in.

To support my work, simply click here. 

Why Would Street Reportage from Denmark Get 100,000 Views?

I’ve made thousands of videos of reportage, and yet each time one is released, it can’t quite be predicted how it will fare out in the unforgiving world of YouTube, where cats on skateboards, make-up tutorials and reactions to Lady Gaga videos score millions of hits, but reportage can just disappear into the ether…

As a benchmark for reportage on YouTube, 10,000 views is a decent one. Look at this, a typical BBC propaganda piece from Crimea, 3 years ago, and for a pretty big revelation, 26 thousand views.

This report of mine, from Denmark, June 2016, about what people there think of Brexit, if they wanted a ‘Dexit’, and the Denmark-EU border, is soon to pass 100,000 views: 

What’s the story behind it? I was travelling around Europe doing reportage on a Brexit theme, and had just come from Latvia –

The trip hadn’t exactly gone to plan, with my car smashed into in France, so driving thousands of miles around Europe with a taped over window, not exactly conducive to an unfrayed state of mind, but anyway, the show really did have to go on. Stopping briefly to make the montage, from Latvia it was a 1600km drive, to Denmark, and to the town of Sonderberg, where this was filmed – the first sizeable town near the Danish border, population around 28,000.

What happened next? I made the edit swiftly after filming, and released. And then, nothing much at all. After a few days, it sat at 1000 views, making it hard to think it hadn’t been a lot of effort for nothing much at all. But then, out of nowhere – without it ever featuring in media as far as I know, it began to climb and climb.

Why the popularity? Firstly, the excellent level of English has clearly enthralled many, if you look at comments. Otherwise, the general geniality, openness of the Danish people. There also isn’t that much competition, as in there’s not much reportage from Denmark, which may have implied a lack of audience for it, but here, clearly not the case.

It was also on theme at that time, with everyone wondering what would come next, after Brexit, which has continued to be a talking point. As you can see from this video, while there was some sympathy from the Danish streets, there was no real sign of a movement there mounting for the next Brexit. Although, another point, the presence of a border did catch attention.

As it prepares to pass 100,000, it joins only a few of my reportages to make that milestone. Of course I’m pleased with that achievement, very grateful to all who have viewed, liked, left comments. Of course, when I look at it now, a year and a half on, I think ‘gosh if I did it again, would do this better, that better‘, I’ve got a year-and-a-half more experience of video editing to call on. Or, I may just do it completely unedited, But, generally, I’m fairly pleased with the piece.

I’d imagined it may get around 10,000 views, so to say it’s overperformed is an understatement. YouTube may be random in a lot of ways, but clearly this report has caught the imagination, and made its contribution to delivering information, just as it was, to a wide audience. Due to monetisation, I’ve earned $35.33 from this video, however due to a simple bit of lunch for myself and colleague Michael Spekkers, who helped me film this, coming to around 30 Euros, you could hardly say I’m raking in the financial rewards 🙂 But of course, none of what I do is for that anyway.

It certainly gives some appetite to return to do more in Denmark, perhaps more ambitious reportage even, knowing there’s an audience for it. Although perhaps if you’re reading this the word is already out and other news crews will be headed to Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg and more, for a slice of the hot Danish pie!

I’d like to say thanks to all the kind, friendly people of Denmark who gave interviews for this, and a gentleman called Viktor from Denmark, who for many years has been a supporter of my work from Donbass, and more! 

Graham Phillips: How to Support My Work

graham-phillips-journalist-1Graham Phillips

My work is 100% crowdfunded. To be involved, you can either make a contribution here: 

https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

From my side, if you support my work, I’ll be in contact with you, send you unique souvenirs, give you special mentions in my work, do as much as I can to show my gratitude for your support, which keeps my independent journalism alive.

Huge thanks for being involved in my work! Graham