There are several dozen journalists currently using the crowdfunding platform byline.com. Operating in beta mode since April, the site, based in London, is the brainchild of Seung-yoon Lee and Daniel Tudor.
Lee was the first East Asian president of Oxford University’s debating society, while Tudor served from 2010 to 2013 as Korea correspondent for The Economist. Lee is also part of Asia Society’s “Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative,” an effort to highlight entrepreneurs under the age of 40. He took time recently to speak with them:
“Some of the journalists are making a lot of money. There’s a guy who’s a quite radical intellectual named Norman Finkelstein who’s making about $90,000, but he’s said he’s going to donate it to the al-Awda Hospital in Gaza. He’s a very pro-Palestine Jewish intellectual. Then there’s a woman [Julie Bindel] who’s a radical feminist who opposes legalization of prostitution, which counters the mainstream feminist stance now to legalize prostitution for women’s rights. She got funded £7,000 ($10,750) to go across the globe to do reporting. We have a Greek economic blogger [Alex Andreou] who’s making $2,500 a month to do his blogging. It’s his side job, he’s an actor.”
In the interview, Lee also draws a subtle but crucial distinction between his site and similar crowdfunding efforts that have come before. For now, access to byline.com is being limited to a small group of selected journalists. However, once the site exits the beta stage, the platform will be opened up to any and all reporters.
Sir Harold Evans, who has come on board as a byline.com advisor, calls the site “a perfect marriage of the Web and the traditional newspaper… a venture that will sustain the information for a functioning democracy and rescue us from ‘volumes of clickbait and celebrity rubbish.’”