A groundbreaking writer who dedicates his time to holding the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to account is facing an uncertain future.
Holding the DWP to account
John Pring is the founder of the Disability News Service (DNS). He launched the site in April 2009, and has broken the mould when it comes to reporting on disability and the welfare state. As Pring noted in an article:
Over the last nine or so years… [it] has broken scores of important stories. Many have been about the austerity-related assault on disability benefits and other support and services.
Pring was the first to report on the UN investigation into the UK government, which concluded it had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights. He has conducted countless investigations, been the first to report major stories, and been a tireless advocate for the disabled rights movement.
But now, all of that is under threat.
DNS: needing your support
DNS does not charge people to view its content. But after eating up most of Pring’s life savings, DNS can no longer continue without more funding. He told The Canary:
For years, I resisted asking the people who read my stories to support DNS financially, mostly because so many of my stories are about the extreme levels of poverty facing disabled people.
So the site will now have an optional ‘donate‘ button at the bottom of each article, where people can contribute what they feel. Pring makes it clear that he is not a charity; nor, as he says, does he want people to donate who “cannot afford to do so”:
But what I hope is that people will only give what they can afford…
I decided eventually that the appeal had to be done because, if things had continued in the same way for another few months, DNS would almost certainly have had to close. I decided it was worth fighting for and risking the embarrassment of asking for money publicly.
Breaking the mould
Pring’s work is vital; not least because he often reports on issues that the mainstream press may not touch; or breaks them before they do. Pring told The Canary:
Many of these are stories that the mainstream media does not have the resources or the inclination to cover, and when they do, they usually omit to seek the voices of disabled people. They focus instead on the non-user-led organisations that claim to speak on their behalf. As a disabled person, that is incredibly frustrating.
I also think that large sections of the mainstream media – not all of it, but certainly a substantial proportion – are institutionally disablist. They still treat disabled people as tragic, ‘vulnerable’ figures to be pitied, or as scapegoats for the financial crisis.
It’s the fact that Pring not only focuses on disabled people, but also ensures their voices are heard, which makes his work so important. And he’s determined that his work can continue. He told The Canary:
I think the DNS archive shows the need for independent, investigative reporting on disability…
I know there are many important stories still to be told, so it would be incredibly frustrating to have to close DNS now.
But DNS will only survive if people actively get involved. So if you value independent and rigorous coverage of disabled people’s fight for their rights, make sure you support Pring, and DNS, if you can.
Featured image via DNS and UK government – Wikimedia
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?