Has the need for clear-eyed, in-depth writing about London’s politics, development and culture ever been greater? Clobbered by Covid and battered by Brexit, the city’s recovery has been fitful and its future is unclear. Despite the huge importance of its economy to the whole country and the poverty of too many of its people, the national government treats the capital as, at best, unduly pampered and, at worst, a national enemy. “Levelling up” populism sees London as a punchbag. Our city’s 22-year-old devolution settlement is under siege.
This website strives to provide a challenge and an antidote to all that. Founded in a much more basic form on 1 February 2017, it has grown into a high quality, multi-contributor platform whose output is read and respected at borough and City Hall level, by academics and policy thinkers, and by experts in London’s transport, planning, housing, policing, education, health and culture as well as Londoners of every kind who care about their city. It challenges crude and reductive narratives about London that emanate from outside and from within it, from left and right alike, that misrepresent complex issues and in so doing make them harder to address.
As founder, publisher and editor of On London, as well as a frequent writer for it, I have kept the website going and growing for more than five years, and I have no intention of stopping. It is, though, not a hobby. On the contrary, running On London is a full-on, full-time job that requires me to be both an editor and a writer, as well as a fundraiser, a finance officer, an event organiser and a publicist all at the same time.
My media empire is a one-person operation based in a single room in my home in Hackney. It gets by on a shoestring budget, most of which is provided by individual supporters. It has no wealthy backers or patrons, which ensures its independence, and it carries no advertising or “sponsored content” to get on your nerves. Even so, I am proud to be able to pay its freelance writers fees that bear comparison with those of some of the biggest journalism websites in the country. After all, good writing about London is this website’s reason for existing and it doesn’t come for free.
Supporters of On London give the website a minimum of just £5 a month and in return receive my weekly Thursday evening newsletter On London Extra, which pulls together London news, views, information, gossip and little bits of joy from a wide variety of sources, and are offered free entry to On London online events, of which there are six a year. These things are not available to non-supporters.
To become a supporter, make your payments via any of the “donate” links on the website, which entails using PayPal, or I can provide you with the company’s bank account details. If you prefer, you can make a single payment of £50, which will make you a supporter for one year.
At present, On London has around 320 supporters. I would like to increase that number to 400 and beyond. You don’t need to be a maths genius to figure out what a difference that would make to my very small business’s bank balance and its ability to go from strength to strength.
Thank you for your time.
Dave Hill (founder, editor and publisher, On London.co.uk).