We at Himal are excited to announce the launch of our newly designed website, now with a membership, a first for the magazine since its inception in 1987.
For over 30 years, we have delivered stories that are Southasian in perspective, always striving to challenge nationalist orthodoxies. You have responded with enthusiasm; some of you have followed us as we transformed from a print edition to a bookazine to our current digital avatar. We are once again at a moment of critical change, launching a membership programme which we hope will make us financially sustainable.
Structured as a non-profit and with its focus on regional public-service journalism through in-depth and long-form articles, Himal Southasian has, until now, relied almost entirely on donor funding. While we are grateful for the substantial support Himal has received, and continues to receive, from donors, we also want to reduce our donor dependency and become independently financially sustainable over time. Non-profit need not necessarily mean non-revenue.
Journalism gives the impression of being cheap or even free in the current digital age, but actually comes at a considerable cost. The question is not whether media is free, but rather who is paying for it? While many of us think we are paying for at least some of the media we consume – for example, by buying newspapers or paying for cable TV – the reality is that what we pay for media is a fraction of the cost of production. Most of the cost is subsidised by advertising from corporates or governments who are then in a position to influence the media, and, as is evident in our region, are increasingly choosing to exercise this leverage in a heavy-handed manner.
Unlike subscription, the membership model that we are launching today allows us to make a distinction between free and open access. It allows us to continue to make our content available to everyone without payment while seeking support from those who are able to pay to support independent, cross-border journalism. It also provides a number of membership options. Individuals may support us at a range of levels, from the modest USD 19 a year to the more substantial USD 199, while institutions can opt for the USD 299 membership. With your support, readers will be able to access new articles as well as our full archives without encountering paywalls.
To say thank you to those who become members, we have come up with some perks which we hope you will enjoy. More importantly, you will be doing your part to support independent journalism in a context where there are considerable and growing pressures on independent media.
Independent journalism has become even more critical at a time when most parts of our region evidence a growth of ultra-nationalism, increasing economic inequalities, social injustices and the brutal suppression of people’s movements.
Himal has consistently reported on under-reported issues – such as militarisation of large parts of Southasia and the corporatisation of the media – subjects that are seen as taboo by the mainstream media. It has also provided consistent coverage on under-reported areas, including Tibet, Bhutan and the Maldives, which receive scant attention from the region’s media.
For all of us at Himal – our Founding Editor Kanak Mani Dixit and colleagues past and present – Himal has been a labour of love.
Sometimes we get asked whether the time for our form of journalism – long form, considered and rigorous – is past. But we know as you do that the time has come around again for in-depth stories, incisive critical analysis and long-form narrative journalism, precisely when we are overwhelmed by information.
Our new website brings 32 years of Himal’s reportage on Southasia to one place – something we have not been able to do till now. It provides access to our print archives – nearly 200 monthly issues and 15 quarterlies, as well as past online content, including podcasts and other features. We have created an enhanced search function to make it easy to find what you need. Do remember that a website is never live until it is live – today in the case of ours – and don’t hesitate to let us know if anything is amiss. We will always be a work in progress.
We would like to thank our readers, supporters, well-wishers and contributors; Himal wouldn’t be what it is without your support. We hope you will join us in this exciting new phase!