SA Life

Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
June 1, 2017

Give us your money (please)

How an old joke became our only hope for the future of journalism.

  • Words: Farrin Foster

Way back (when we were young, even more naïve, exploited invites to free media drinks on a Monday, were always hungover on a Tuesday, and worked in bars to support our fledgling media careers) there was a catch phrase that floated around the offices of Merge – Joshua Fanning’s first ever magazine title.


Read more about the City Standard and sign up here.

The City Standard is a new title from us here at CityMag, but nothing will change with CityMag itself – which will continue publishing as usual in print and online.

I was only in the outer circle then – making the occasional very substandard, totally cringe-worthy, almost as bad as high school poetry submission here and there.

But this phrase was so ubiquitous that even I knew it.

The refrain ran, “GIVE US YOUR MONEY”. It was said in an immediate, desperate tone, and it neatly encapsulates the central problem of running a free magazine – that there’s not often many people who want to pay you to do it.

It’s an inside joke that remains highly relevant to our lives almost a decade later.

Farrin is CityMag’s editor

(Interestingly, there is one other phrase from those years that has stuck around – “Sex bugs! We should never have drilled for oil on the moon”, but that is another (arguably more interesting) story that you should ask Owen Lindsay about some time).

All these years later, we’ve grown up. I stopped writing maudlin, one-dimensional, insight-light articles (I hope). Mostly, we stopped drinking heavily on Monday nights (except for special occasions). We launched a series of failed magazines, and then landed on one that has had some longevity (ten points if you guessed CityMag here).

But, at the core of our business, the “Give us your money” joke remains highly pertinent.

Joshua Fanning slugs away, day after day, finding advertisers and partners who see value and return from giving us money to get in front of CityMag’s audience. There are some generous organisations out there who opt to support us because they see what we’re trying to do is the same thing they are: Make Adelaide a world-class small city through a culture of innovation and creativity.

In print, we chug along. But online, we find ourselves laughing over the phrase “Give us your money’ with an ever-increasing maniacal despair.

And that’s because the online business model doesn’t pay for good journalism.

Here’s a graphic we made demonstrating the difference between standard rates for advertising online, compared to standard rates for advertising in print.

A lot of the time this results in journalists and photographers being paid a lot less to create online articles. That doesn’t seem reasonable – since they’re still doing the same work.

It also means that important local stories suffer – overlooked in favour of stories that can make more money by drawing more clicks from a national or even international audience. This is only one result of the gutting of the media business model – we commissioned Annie Hastwell to write an article fully exploring the issue. You can read that article here.

I want to write stories that are useful, stories that are important. And not just because that’s my preference – but because I think that the role of the media is to conduct conversations that shape the future of our community.

So, we’re making the “Give us your money” joke into something a little more serious. We’re turning it into a request by launching something new – the City Standard.

The City Standard will be a place where we create the kind of journalism – long form articles, documentaries, illustrated stories, photo essays – that Adelaide needs.

And at the City Standard we’re asking you to contribute money to fund that stuff. The City Standard’s content will be behind a paywall – so you’ll be paying to see the stories. But it’s about more than that, because as well as asking for money, we’re asking you to contribute intellectually.

The City Standard isn’t built yet. We’re starting as we intend to continue, as a place where we work with our readers to create something we all believe is important for Adelaide. If you sign up, your money and your ideas will be used to build the platform.

So, yes, please, think about giving us your money. But, please, also tell us what you want in return. You can do both by signing up to the City Standard now.

Share —