How journalists in Ukraine turned to crowdfunding site Patreon to finance coverage

Olga Rudenko, editor of The Kyiv Independent, has had a punishing six weeks. Faced with the prospect of trying to run her publication from a bomb shelter with unreliable internet and fearing Russian soldiers would target journalists, she fled the capital for western Ukraine the day after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion began.

Yet while the conflict has destroyed the Ukrainian economy, her fledgling English-language publication has thrived.

Established in November last year, the site has grown from 32,000 page views in January to 7.5mn in March. Its team of 20 editorial staff has conducted on-the-ground reporting and provided a steady stream of social media updates, leading its Twitter following to rise from roughly 30,000 followers before the war to 2mn today.

“The sense of responsibility to get everything right has become even stronger,” said Rudenko, who has now returned to Kyiv.

Surging readership for The Kyiv Independent is understandable given the global interest in coverage of the conflict. But its success is also emblematic of a wider trend of smaller publications and individual writers finding funding through crowdsourcing sites or subscription platforms to build their brands.

The Kyiv Independent swiftly raised £1.5mn via a GoFundMe page at the outbreak of war. But its core operations are funded by donors on Patreon, a US crowdfunding platform launched in 2013 for fans to support creators by becoming “patrons” and backing their work…

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