Hard Times, Scary Prospects

For the first time in the history of the American republic, the far right has captured one of our two major parties. Whether the issue is denial of science, restriction of fundamental rights and liberties, the substitution of big money for the vote, the destruction of the middle class, or the wreckage of even modest social supports, we live in ominous times.

Unfortunately, it is also a precarious time for one of America’s core progressive institutions—this magazine.

As a founding editor of The American Prospect, I have never written a column like this one, and I hope never to write another. 

The Prospect could cease publication if we don’t bridge a serious funding gap.

Specifically, we need half a million dollars, and we need it by the end of May. We are pulling out all the stops on an emergency fundraising drive. We are cutting costs significantly and have notified our staff that, unless we raise this money, the July/August issue could be our last. 

So in addition to seeking additional funds from our longtime foundation, labor, and individual benefactor friends, we are turning to our readership—you.

If you are reading this far, you know that the magazine and website have never been better, smarter, more literate, or more prescient in what they publish. From Christopher Ketcham’s definitive account of Occupy Wall Street to Suzanne Maloney’s expert rebuttal of the bomb-Iran folly; from Harold Meyerson’s coverage of labor and manufacturing and Gabriel Arana’s first-person essay about his years in ex-gay therapy to our special report on money in politics, our magazine is an indispensible force in progressive media and debate. 

Under the leadership of editors Kit Rachlis, Bob Moser, Sarah Kerr, and Gabriel Arana, the Prospect is punching above its weight—and we have much more planned.

Why the emergency? 

Unlike right-wing media organizations and think tanks, where Rupert Murdoch or the Koch brothers just write the editors a check, the Prospect has never had a single “angel” and has always depended on a broad array of donors. 

But this is not a typical year. Among other factors, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, allowing unlimited political donations, keeps reverberating in toxic ways. In this crucial election year, several of our friends have told us that every spare nickel is going to help elect progressives. 

Our partnership with the think tank De¯mos has been an important help, intellectually and institutionally. But as a young organization, De¯mos can’t fill a large hole in the Prospect’s budget. 

The irony is that if we can finance this temporary gap, we’re in great shape going forward. Our new publisher, Jay Harris, working with Kit, has developed a superb plan to make an enhanced magazine available on tablet readers. This will incorporate audio and video, expand readership, and save costs on paper.

But first, we have to survive the summer.

So this is a onetime urgent appeal, and it is a true emergency. Otherwise, I would not be sending out an all-points bulletin. Issuing a call like this is risky, because bad news tends to spread, and distress can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have no choice but to succeed.

For 22 years, The American Prospect has been a beacon of smart progressive journalism. Along the way, the magazine has been a training ground for the best young progressive writers and editors. Ezra Klein, Jonathan Chait, Matthew Yglesias, Josh Marshall, Kate Sheppard, Nick Confessore, Kay Steiger, Jonathan Cohn, Richard Just, Dana Goldstein, Jason Zengerle, Laura Secor, Jed Purdy, Spencer Ackerman, Scott Stossel, and Adam Serwer, among many others, launched their careers in these pages.

At this critical moment for America, we cannot afford to lose one of the country’s flagship progressive magazines. Wouldn’t the right just love that? 

Will you please help out with a tax-deductible donation, large or small (preferably large)? We will keep you posted with daily online updates on how this emergency drive is going.

You can mail donations to: The American Prospect, 1710 Rhode Island Avenue NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036. Or you can donate online at https://prospect.org/donate

I’ve been at this for 22 years, since Paul Starr, Bob Reich, and I founded the Prospect in 1990 as a quarterly. I suspect some of you have been readers from the first issue. Before I hang it up, I’d like to pass the Prospect along to the next generation, stronger than ever.

The Prospect has had an intensely engaged readership, and I’m grateful that you’ve stayed with us. Thank you for considering this urgent request.

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