April 20, 2017
It was 20 years ago today that we launched Common Dreams.
Our plan? Harness the power of the (then new) internet to build a transformative media model—bringing together independent reporting on the news that matters with the most important progressive voices of our time.
We had a vision—but we had no start-up funding.
I mailed a launch letter to several thousand friends and supporters that I had worked with on progressive causes over the years.
Here's a excerpt from that first letter:
April 20, 1997
It has been said that dreams are our roadmap to the future.
If so, where is our country heading?
Just consider the cynical, small-minded and poll-driven promises made in the recent presidential election: Impose strict curfews. Mandate school uniforms. Build more prison cells. Put V-chips in TV sets. Blame immigrants for our problems.
A vision for America’s future? The “Bridge to the 21st century”? Hardly.
I watched the 1996 presidential campaign feeling robbed. Where was the debate on the real issues of our day? Where were the competing visions that we could examine and choose among? Where were the inspiring and imaginative ideas to lead our country toward a better future?
The corporate media no longer serves the common good. The near monopoly of corporate propaganda dominates radio, television, and print. And the public is fed a never ending pablum of war, celebrity and sideshows.
When giant arms merchants own our TV networks is it any wonder that they produce 24/7 war cheerleading masquerading as news? When corporate headquarters is focused only on the next quarter's profit report is it any wonder that 'all-scandals, all-the-time infotainment' has replaced real journalism?
I’m writing to you because I know that you are committed to a vision of social justice and ecological sustainability. I share that vision and, like you, I am committed to doing everything that I can to bring our vision to life.
It really is a time of decision for America.
Will we continue down the path of cynical and shortsighted policies? A path that plays to our fears and divides our communities?
Or, will we begin organizing thousands of Americans to think big and use our national imagination for a better future?
Thankfully, people like you responded. And we raised the seed money needed to make Common Dreams a reality.
Today we are kicking off our critical 2017 Spring fundraising campaign. We must raise $50,000 in the coming days to make it through the next few months.
Twenty years later, we still don’t sell advertising; we still have no corporate sponsors; and we still don't sell or rent our mailing lists. Our continued survival depends on thousands of small donors pitching in to help keep us going another 20 years.
We rely on you.
Can you help us celebrate our birthday with a gift today?
We can't do it without you.
Common Dreams co-founder
for the whole Common Dreams news team