The news blogsite Rappler recently launched a crowd funding activity to raise Php 5 million pesos. Which they say will be used “to support its editorial operations and key projects.”
This raises several questions in my mind, particularly relating to the nature of the funds being raised. As far as I know, and more knowledgeable minds can correct me on this, corporations like Rappler are only allowed two ways to raise new capital for its operations – debt or equity.
Clearly this is not a loan. The terms and conditions outlined by Rappler is very specific about that point. Whatever they raise is a non-refundable contribution to the company.
So if it isn’t a loan, then it must be equity, and be reported as such to the Securities and Exchange Commission. But here is where it gets tricky because Rappler wraps the whole transaction with so much legalese that the only thing clear about it is that they don’t want people to understand exactly what the fuck they’re trying to pull.
Rappler sets the legal premise for the transaction by saying that any “contribution” is made in exchange “for a service provided by Rappler to its contributors…” These are key terms that Rappler’s lawyers try to sneak in early on to establish the idea that those giving money will get something in return, a “service (to be) provided by Rappler.”
But reading the entire agreement, there is no mention, none whatsoever of what this “service” will be. Is it a subscription? An ad placement? Will Maria Ressa and Pia Ranada come to your house to clean your windows? Rappler wants your money, but won’t tell you exactly what you will get in return.
This is like paying to have your car fixed, but without your mechanic telling you exactly what is broken, or how he is going to fix it. You just have to take it on trust that he will do what he says. And this is what Rappler wants people to do, trust them.
Which may be fine for some. But then again, Rappler has been known for being creative in the filing of their corporate papers in the past. And this new money making scheme seems to fall in line with their history. With the exception that, instead of getting money from billionaire investors, they are now going after the ‘pennies and cents,’ so to speak, of ordinary Filipinos.
Now I have always argued for the primacy and inviolability of every person’s right to free speech. And would support that even to the protection of those I despise – including those anonymous asses at Silent No More and Superficial Gazette. But in the case of Rappler, or with any media corporation for that matter, it does not apply.
These media companies were never there to protect our rights, they just pretended that they were. Their true function, their prime directive is to make money. And they will do everything to preserve their exclusive privilege to sell us the news. Like the prayles of old, they make money off of the people, and they do it while pretending to be the guardians of freedom. They take our money and demand that we thank them for the privilege.
This to me is the most offensive part of what mainstream media has become. It is a farce. A sick, twisted, farce of an institution that routinely and unabashedly perverts the ideals of truth, accountability, freedom, and transparency for their own financial gains.
And Rappler is the epitome of this hypocrisy. Which is precisely why it finds itself in this position right now. While Rappler has always been quick to pin the blame for its predicament on Duterte and his supporters, they don’t need to look that far for the real culprit.
It is the arrogance of their boss, Maria Ressa that is the direct cause their downfall. Their refusal to listen to their audience, and their propensity to mock and ridicule people who don’t agree with them is their biggest sin. And no amount of begging from an already skeptical public can save Rappler. Not all the money in the world can make you any better than what you already are. And to this, we say goodbye and good riddance to bad rubbish.