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A Noble Experiment: Journalism for the Marginalized Majority

Two years ago, the Ghion Journal was launched with little more than hope and a deep desire to give voice to the voiceless. To say that we started our endeavor on a shoestring budget would be a vast overstatement. After going through a rough patch of hardship, the Ghion Journal was birthed while I was living in a mission in Northern Colorado.

At the encouragement of Ghion Journal’s co-founder, I decided to take my observations about life, politics and culture from Facebook to a web publication. We settled on a name, the Ghion Journal, in part to give homage to my birth place Ethiopia and as a basis for seeking truth among the mountain of lies we are buried by on a continuous basis. You see, the river we now call the Nile has always been called the Ghion River by Ethiopians. To seek knowledge, it is vital to understand disinformation—the first step to truth is to know when you are being lied to.

Our vision all along was to disavow the current model of journalism and prove that a media of, by and for the people can exist without being a subsidiary of corporations. What became very evident during the times I lived in shelters and found myself subsumed by the chasm of indigence is that mainstream media outfits have no interest in speaking up for most people who suffer in silence. They are too busy chasing ratings and raising funds from corporate sponsors to care about justice.

It is hard, after all, to speak truth to power when your viability depends on the very powers you are supposed to be checking. This is the central flaw of a supposed “free press” that is indebted to plutocrats and their fiefdoms. The “fourth estate” has become a club of the uber-wealthy where the issues and interests of the people are traded back and forth as fodder for entertainment and means to enhance revenues at the cost of humanity.

The symbiotic relationship between journalists and their wealthy benefactors has warped news and turned an honored profession into click bait drivel. The gargantuan paychecks and the enormous clout maintained by reporters, pundits and media personalities depend on their ability to exponentially draw more and more eyeballs. In order to meet this relentless pressure, too often they report stories through the filter of ideology and manufactured identities, what is lost in the process is truth as demographic driven narratives eviscerate fact based reporting.

We choose to be different. There was a time when I used to view this world through the lens of ideology and identity, but after enduring two years of homelessness and destitution—and witnessing a sea of humanity swallowed whole by economic inequalities—I realized that the true nature of injustice is not horizontal but vertical. The struggle is between the few who have all and the rest who are being consumed by financial anxieties or insolvency.

This is not to deny the existence of racism, sexism and systematic forms of oppression that target individual groups of people, but ignoring the connective tissues of iniquities is to miss the forest for the branches. Focusing on the symptoms and looking past the system is counterproductive at best and intentional malpractice by those who convey news through the blinders of ideologies and identities.

America, and the world by extension, has been sliced and diced into the ghettos of demographics. We need journalism that rises above tribalism.

We believed that another way was possible, that a publication could capture the imagination of the marginalized majority. From two, we have now grown into a collective of writers. Along the way, we have attracted a large and dedicated readership who turn to us because they know that we seek truth without being wedded to ideology. Our audience runs the gambit when it comes their background and experiences of people who count themselves as followers of our work. But what they have in common is their hunger for journalism that does not kowtow to the establishment or pander to preexisting beliefs.

As we move into year three of our existence, our aims are to make the Ghion Journal sustainable, attract more writers and continue to expand our readership. We give people an alternative to the stale dogma and the divisive narratives that are constantly being injected into the public square; as we grow, so does our ability to counter the disinformation and propaganda of corporate media. We are idealists living in a capital reality, as we expand our reach, it is vital that we defray the mounting costs and also find ways to compensate our writers.

When I was living in Northern Colorado, one of my favorite restaurants I’ve ever visited was an eatery called FoCo Café. I’ve written about this most wonderful establishment in the past, a place where people pay for delicious and nutritious food as they are able. What made FoCo Café unique is that they eliminated prices from the equation and let people contribute as they could. Frequently, I saw homeless people eating next to executives in suits. FoCo Café found a way to thrive not by seeking profits at all cost but by believing in the human spirit of kindness.

This is the same model of “contribute as you can”, instead of price points and ad revenues, that is the foundation of the Ghion Journal. By removing corporations from the equation and believing in the human spirit, I have faith that one day our publication can go toe to toe with “news” conglomerations like CNN, Fox News and their peer in mainstream media. It is with this in mind that I make the first explicit request to our readers and viewers to contribute financially as you can and be investors of sorts in our noble, and I dare say audacious, experiment to reclaim journalism.

There are two ways to contribute. The most important way is compensate writers for their work. There is a tip jar or a contribute button at the bottom of most articles, as you are able or feel inspired to do so, pitch in and reward writers for their work. You can send one time payments or sign up to become monthly contributors; if we can make this model of journalism viable, we can attract more writers and in the process prove that journalism can thrive without the need to extorted by corporations. None of us have illusions of being millionaires, but I would like our writers who spend an exorbitant amount of time researching, typing, formatting and editing articles to be remunerated for their work.

The other way to pitch in is to contribute to the Ghion Journal as a whole through our Patreon account or the Donor Box button that is found at the top or the right side of our website. You can also purchase merchandise at the Ghion Market to help us offset our overhead. This accomplishes two things, you can at once let others know about the Ghion Journal while helping us keep up with expenditures. As more and more visit our website and as we expand our video broadcasting abilities, operational costs continue to grow as well. Web Hosting, software licenses and other expenses associated with online publications increase as we expand our capacities.

The experience that we want to give our readers is a website that is free of clutter and advertisement intrusions. There are few things more annoying as reading articles or watching”news” shows that bombard us with commercials and corporate billboards. It is a perversion of journalism that mainstream media sites and channels dedicate more time to hawking the goods of their sponsors than they do in actually reporting news. Outside of this article and the free ad space we give to small businesses (non-corporations) that prove their worth to their communities they live in, we are determined to keep the Ghion Journal a corporate and advertisement free space. Our refusal to take money from corporations or moneyed interests is the reason why we can write without worrying about upsetting the apple cart or fearing blow back from furious sponsors.

Lastly, we ask each of our readers to continue to tell your friends, family, coworkers and online associates about us. What I’ve found so rewarding is witnessing countless people who make it their purpose be our champions and advocate on our behalf. This level of ownership and being vested in our endeavor is why our growth rate has exploded and why a website founded with change is now counted as a legitimate news source by thousands of people.

Please make sure you follow our writers, Bree Hood, Stephen Boni, Rainer Shea, Tim Nuell, me and of course the Ghion Journal Twitter account. We are always looking to add new thinkers to our circle of writers, so if you or someone you know is interested, email us at info@gionjournal.com with the subject of “writing for Ghion”. Make sure to also follow our page on Facebook, sign up for push notifications by pressing on the red bell at the bottom right of the our website and even more importantly sign up for our newsletter given the level of censorship being practiced by social media outlets. Because we don’t raise ad revenues, it is impossible for us to spend money to advertise and market our website. We depend on word of mouth not only to propagate our articles but to attract new readers and grow our audience.

Beyond growing Ghion Journal, what we really want to accomplish is to turn the paradigm of competition on its head and make collaboration more valuable. Some of the most rewarding moments I’ve experienced over the past two years is attracting thinkers and amazing writers to form a team that is truly vested in helping each other get better and nurturing our talents. Just as important, I’ve had my faith in humanity affirmed each time I’ve had a chance to collaborate with independent journalists and activists like Lee Camp, Tim Black, Caitlin Johnstone, Elizabeth Vos and many more who have garnered a massive following yet worked with me instead of seeing me as a rival.

Most of us are justifiably repulsed by the state of mainstream media, there is a reason why corporate journalists have the likability of Rasputin and garner less respect than politicians—which is quite a statement. Too many of us feel marginalized by politicians on both sides of the aisle who find it easier to lie than seek solutions and media personalities who care more about their Q ratings than they do about humanity. The common denominator of both is rank greed that has turned opinion leaders into appendages of corporations and courtiers of the neo-aristocracy. We can’t depend those who thrive through the status quo to change the system that is enriching them, it is in our best interest to empower truly independent voices who are not in the pockets of the oligarchy.

If you appreciate the articles you are reading here and the work that we are doing, use social media today share our story. We have powerful tools at our disposal, we can use Facebook, Twitter and the internet as a whole to either echo the status quo or challenge false narratives that are used to intentionally divide us. I ask you to join a coordinated campaign and use #SeekKnowledge along with #GhionJournal to build a movement that encourages others to not only find out about us but encourages people to empower truly independent journalism.

That has been our aim from the very outset was, we were driven to prove that a people empowered publication can be just as powerful as corporate powered media. We have a long way to go before we can match the hits and reach of outfits like the Washington Post or New York Times, but then again, that is not our aim, we would rather be David speaking truth to power instead of Goliath spreading disinformation. We have the tenacity to take on the establishment, we ask you to help arm us with the stones that can slay giants. #SeekKnowledge #GhionJournal Click To Tweet

Journalism at its worse is a tool wielded by the gentry; journalism at its finest is the best safeguard of liberty::

Going forward, at the bottom of each article, you will see this button below. Each writer is going to have their own unique Donor Box account, 100% of all contributions from each article will go to the respective writer. In this case, since this article is meant to highlight the Ghion Journal as a whole, the proceeds of the contributions when you click on the button below will go towards the general account. However, going forward, the buttons found at the bottom of each article will be directed to the individual writers. Thank you again for all that you are doing and being a part of our journey.

 

Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam

Lij Teodrose Fikremariam is the co-founder and former editor of the Ghion Journal. He is currently the chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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