I started this website exactly six years ago today in order to continue writing about the politics, development and life of the capital as I had done for the Guardian since the autumn of 2008, winning awards in the process. Media coverage of London across the board was becoming more hostile and crudely populist at exactly the time when its strengths and its weaknesses alike, and its relationship with the whole country, needed to be better understood – as did the work of the London Mayor and the London Assembly.
I had no financial backers and didn’t want any – a freelance writer since 1981 I intended to do things my own way. I had some savings and on 1 February 2018, On London‘s first birthday, I launched a nerve-jangling crowdfunding campaign which raised just over £25,000. That paid for this bespoke website to be built and provided some financial breathing space.
Since then, my very, very small business – it is run entirely by me from one room in my house – has kept going pretty well, producing a tiny salary for me and, I’m proud to say, enabling me to pay contributors who write and research for a living sums which, though quite modest, are competitive with those of some of the largest media organisations in the world.
On London now publishes some of the best and most knowledgable writers about the capital there are. I don’t pretend we are alone in covering our city well, but I don’t think you will find another platform quite like this one, dedicated to reporting and explaining how and why London works – and the ways in which it doesn’t – for the general reader and specialists alike
The website’s output is respected in high places: among those who spoke at the final On London event of 2022 were Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London Councils chair Georgia Gould – the two most important politicians in the city.
This year and next will be hugely important for London and Londoners as we emerge from the wreckage of Covid and Brexit, cope with the soaring cost of living and the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and get to grips with the future amid the challenges of climate change. The next election for London Mayor is scheduled for May 2024 and a general election seems likely to take place at some point in the same year.
I want On London to increase and broaden its output in 2023 and 2024 – strengthening its core coverage of politics, transport, housing and policing, doing more reporting of Londoners’ lives and London’s economy, and branching out in arts and architecture. I also want On London to contribute to improving the quality of debate about the capital’s relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom – a debate currently mired in reductive and divisive “north-side divide” cliches that get none of us anywhere.
On London is only ever going to be a micro media empire, but there is scope for the type of expansion I’ve described. More output, though, depends on more money coming in.
On London carries no annoying advertising or “sponsored links” and most of its income comes from individual supporters – people who give the website and its writers a minimum of £5 a month or £50 a year.
In return for becoming supporters they receive a weekly newsletter, On London Extra, packed with London news, views and information in addition to what appears on the website itself, along with invitations (at no further charge) to On London events, which often feature some of the city’s key policy and decision-makers.
Please consider becoming a supporter. You can make payments – £5 monthly or £50 “one-time” to cover you for one year – through any of the “donate” links on the website itself or if you would prefer to go directly to the On London bank account drop me a line – firstname.lastname@example.org – and I will send you the details you need.
Many thanks, Dave Hill (Founder, publisher and editor, OnLondon.co.uk).