Alive in Baghdad, the innovative video-journalism project that publishes regular dispatches from Iraqi correspondents is facing a severe financial crisis and may be forced to go offline, according to the agency's founder.
The weekly web video journal, always an IraqSlogger favorite pick, has brought unprecedented video footage filmed and produced by Iraqi journalists to the Western audience via the web, with topics ranging from up-close looks at the wall in Baghdad’s Adhamiya neighborhood, Iraqi refugees in Kurdistan and Syria, fuel lines, checkpoints, and this week’s heartbreaking installment, embedded above, profiling an Iraqi family torn apart by a car bomb blast that left a child blinded for life while her mother died to protect her.
Alive in Baghdad, and sister project Alive in Mexico, have been “on life support” for several months, writes Brian Conley, founder and director of the project, who speculates that the project to bring online video of hard news stories from Iraq has not found a home in the “fun and geeky web video world.”
In addition to being a weekly Slogger favorite, Alive in Baghdad (AiB) has received an impressive array of endorsements and favorable reviews, as Conley notes in his recent post, and AiB’s content has been featured on SkyNews, BBC Newsnight, and CurrentTV.
Conley told IraqSlogger in a telephone interview on Monday that his team was still searching for a way to cover its operating expenses in Iraq and the US.
“We may have the money to last out the next month,” he said, noting that the agency’s US-based staff and even it’s Middle East bureau coordinator were working without pay to keep the agency alive. “It’s pretty frustrating, we’re producing content you can’t find anywhere else,” he added.
In recent weeks, AiB has adopted a voluntary subscription model, but only a fraction of the agency’s thousands of monthly viewers have committed to donate on a regular basis, Conley told IraqSlogger, saying that the revenue generated so far by the subscription program would not be sufficient to keep the project afloat.
“If only 10% of our subscribership thought it would be worth five dollars per month” to support the site, Conley said, that could put the agency on a solid financial footing.
“If people are depressed about the war in Iraq, instead of spending five dollars on a six-pack of beer, they should give us the money,” Conley said.
“Anybody can do something,” he continued. “If they have questions about what they can do they can email us and we’ll help them connect” with organizations addressing the war.
“But we’re a news agency, we just try to be agnostic” about events in Iraq, Conley added, noting that AiB had received enthusiastic reviews from across the political spectrum.
The AiB founder also appealed to supporters of the Iraq War to back AiB’s project as well. “If they think that we’re getting it right, I wish that they would support us more.”