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Elon Musk Will Never Own The Indy

Issue 276

But reader support remains essential to the survival of this newspaper.

John Tarleton Dec 28, 2022

Read also: Why I Give to The Indy by Gerald Meyer

In late October, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, purchased the world’s “town square,” for $44 billion. Twitter’s total number of users (235 million) is dwarfed by Facebook (1.98 billion) and the company loses money almost every year. Yet, it has an outsized influence on the media and public discourse. So Musk snapped it up. 

With his new toy in hand, Musk promptly fired half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees. Content moderation has been largely dismantled. And Twitter is once again awash in neo-Nazis and other far-right trolls and conspiracy theorists who Musk encourages at every turn. 

Will the manic maneuverings of Twitter’s new owner cause the company to implode? Will Musk, the son of a South African diamond magnate, whose business empire includes Tesla Motors and Space-X, tumble from the sky like a modern-day Icarus? Signs so far are encouraging. Corporate advertisers are fleeing Twitter. The value of Tesla’s stock has halved this year amid Musk’s dalliance with social media. On December 12, Forbes announced that Musk — whose net worth has declined to a mere $181 billion — had been dethroned as the world’s wealthiest person by French industrialist Bernard Arnault. 

   

Left unasked is why should one person have so much power? What would a civic-minded Internet run as a public utility freed from the whims of billionaires and the relentless logic of capitalist profit-seeking look like? Hopefully, we will find out some day. In the meantime, we should defend and support the public commons that we still do have, including The Indypendent

Here at The Indy, we don’t work for distant corporate shareholders or to get rich. Our mission is to report on and amplify the voices of progressive and radical social movements here in New York City and beyond, providing incisive coverage you won’t find anywhere else. 

Running on a shoestring budget, our small paid staff and dozens of volunteers do the herculean task of bringing you this free newspaper and circulating it across the city each month. We also update this website with breaking news between print editions, host a weekly radio show on WBAI-99.5 FM that airs Tuesdays at 5 p.m., publish a weekly e-newsletter that you can sign up for here and are active on social media

In the past year we have provided extensive coverage of the upsurge in labor organizing and strikes. We have also infiltrated anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” and exposed their practices, chronicled the abuses and excesses of Mayor Eric Adams, continued to report on the struggle between NYC’s machine Democrats and  progressive and socialist reformers, closely followed tenant movements around the city, including new organizing endeavors among homeless New Yorkers, and covered the loss of the historic queer “People’s Beach” at Jacob Riis Park, just to cite a few highlights from our coverage. 

In this huge city, it’s easy for us as individuals or groups to feel isolated. The Indy helps us see our connectedness, see ourselves as something more than the sum of our parts, as a movement of movements. 

   

This couldn’t be more urgent. Corporate media can’t bring itself to say it. But we live in a moment of rising fascism. Elon Musk’s hostile Twitter takeover is just froth atop the wave. LGBTQ people and their safe spaces are attacked. In wide swaths of the country, abortion clinics are being closed, pregnant people and their helpers surveilled and criminalized across state lines. School boards and libraries are being bullied; teachers risk losing their jobs for conveying an honest version of this country’s history. Local election officials are besieged with death threats. Killer cops are once again beyond reproach. Turns out the same far-right forces that have whined for years about “cancel culture” can’t get enough of it. 

Indypendent Editor-in-Chief John Tarleton.

The goal of this violent minority is to gradually push all of us who don’t share their vision for society to the margins of public life and to foreclose the possibility of changing an already unacceptable status quo.

The only thing that can cancel The Indy is a lack of funds, which is always a possibility. We almost went under during the pandemic but pulled through thanks to reader support. But scraping by can’t be the norm. This is why we have set our highest-ever goal for our winter fund drive: $50,000. With your backing, we can do even more great work in 2023, without the stress of wondering if our next month will be our last. 

If you have given before, we welcome your continued support. If you enjoy reading The Indy but have not given before, this is a great time to strengthen a people’s institution. Whether you can make a holiday gift of $27, $50, $100, $200, $500, $1,000 or more, it all makes a difference. Click here to donate.

Onward

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