Support a free and fearless press that annoys the 1% | Arwa Mahdawi

Without journalists, the future will be shaped by the whims and wants of the mega-rich. By supporting Guardian journalism, you can help us continue to get on their nerves

The year is 2033. Elon Musk is no longer one of the richest people in the world, having hemorrhaged away his fortune trying to make Twitter profitable. Which, alas, hasn’t worked out too well: only 420 people are left on the platform. Everyone else was banned for not laughing at Musk’s increasingly desperate jokes.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom for the car salesman and space cadet. Musk did lobby Congress to pass the landmark Protect Our Precious Billionaires Act, which turns high-net-worth individuals into a protected class. Anyone who makes fun of someone with more money than them is rounded up and thrown into a pauper’s prison by the Monetary Morality Police.

In other news, Pete Davidson is now dating Martha Stewart. The Fast and the Furious 78 has just hit the box offices. Donald Trump is threatening to run in the 2036 elections. And British tabloids are still churning out 100 articles a day about whether Meghan Markle eating lunch is an outrageous snub to the royal family.

Obviously I have no idea what the world is going to look like in a decade. But here’s one prediction I feel very confident making: without a free and fearless press the future will be bleak. Without independent journalism, democracy is doomed. Without journalists who hold power to account, the future will be entirely shaped by the whims and wants of the 1%.

A lot of the 1% are not big fans of the Guardian, by the way. Donald Trump once praised a Montana congressman who physically assaulted a Guardian reporter. Musk, meanwhile, has described the Guardian as “the most insufferable newspaper on planet Earth”. I’m not sure there is any greater compliment.

Do I agree with everything that is published in the Guardian? Obviously not. It would be a bit weird if I did. Do I think the Guardian is perfect? Obviously not. No institution is perfect. But I am firmly of the belief that there is nothing else like the Guardian. There is simply no other free-to-read liberal media news outlet that has the global reach of the Guardian. It is an essential resource in a world where, as has been frequently observed, truth is increasingly paywalled while the lies are free.

The lack of paywall, the commitment to free-access journalism, is a major reason why I am proud to write for the Guardian. I think it’s hard to meaningfully advocate for democratic values while simultaneously locking your content away behind a subscriber-only paywall. I admire the fact that the Guardian consistently applies its journalistic values to its business model. In 2020, for example, the Guardian became the first major global news organisation to institute a ban on taking money from fossil fuel companies. I am proud of the fact that the Guardian does its best to walk the walk.

Unfortunately, ethics can be expensive and free speech costs a lot of money. Not having a paywall means that the Guardian has to regularly ask our readers to chip in. I know that times are tough right now and everyone is bombarded with requests for money at this time of year, but if you are able to, please do consider donating. Only with your help can we continue to get on Elon Musk’s nerves.

• This article was amended on 2 January 2023. An earlier version said that Donald Trump would be 90 in 2033. That should have said 2036; the reference has been removed.


Arwa Mahdawi

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘Don’t let him use the press’: Guardian readers on how the media should cover Trump’s 2024 run
More than 3,000 readers responded to our callout, and urged a ‘less is more’ approach when reporting on the former president

Guardian readers

30, Nov, 2022 @3:36 PM

Article image
Help us reach our goal: support a free, independent press in 2019
When truth is under attack and independent journalism is imperiled, your continued support of the Guardian will help us deliver the stories that matter most

John Mulholland

04, Dec, 2018 @6:34 PM

Article image
Elon Musk running Twitter? It’s like giving a monkey a delicate clock | John Naughton
The tech magnate’s purchase of the social media platform was the easy bit – now he must be responsible for toxic content, writes technology professor John Naughton

John Naughton

29, Oct, 2022 @9:49 PM

Article image
Like Trump, Elon Musk reveals a vapid mind super-charged by wealth and ego | Siva Vaidhyanathan
Musk, despite his wealth, good fortune and global influence, is not a serious person – but he is toying with dangerous ideas

Siva Vaidhyanathan

31, Oct, 2022 @12:46 PM

Article image
Local press under pressure: the view from Charlottesville | Open door | Paul Chadwick
Open door: A week-long sampling of the output of the Daily Progress newspaper in the Virginia city hit by racist protests reveals the enduring value of local journalism

Paul Chadwick

27, Aug, 2017 @2:35 PM

Article image
Beware self-made ‘genius’ entrepreneurs promising the earth. Just look at Elon Musk | Kenan Malik
Silicon Valley ‘saviours’ are the heroes of the hour. Too often they have feet of clay

Kenan Malik

20, Nov, 2022 @8:00 AM

Article image
Early steps to trace and block the trolls who spread fake news | Open door | Paul Chadwick
Open door: For those journalists who seek truth and take seriously their role to facilitate democracy, it is imperative to expose deception and masquerading voices

Paul Chadwick

26, Nov, 2017 @4:25 PM

Article image
New Yorker editor: Trump is seeking to divide Americans by making press an enemy
Watch reporters dissect the historic election and its aftermath at the Columbia Journalism Review conference, co-sponsored by Reuters and the Guardian

Amber Jamieson

03, Mar, 2017 @3:06 PM

Article image
Trump, Bankman-Fried and Musk are the monsters of American capitalism | Robert Reich
For them, and for everyone who still regards them as heroes, there is no morality in business or economics. The winnings go to the most ruthless

Robert Reich

24, Dec, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Elon Musk claims he has acquired Twitter ‘to help humanity’
Tweet comes as advertisers fear one of his first moves as chief will be to restore Donald Trump’s account

Alex Hern UK technology editor

27, Oct, 2022 @3:46 PM