What is New Naratif?

New Naratif is a movement for democracy, freedom of speech, and freedom of information in Southeast Asia.

We achieve this by doing three things:

  • We research important issues facing the people of Southeast Asia
  • We publish content about those issues, aiming to be as accessible as possible. That means we do comics, videos, podcasts and photo essays alongside research articles and longform journalism. It also means we publish in the languages of Southeast Asians, such as Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Melayu/Malaysia.
  • We then bring people together to empower them in their local communities. That includes democracy classrooms, civic participation workshops, and citizenship journalism courses.

Overall, the vision behind New Naratif is that of a vertically-integrated democracy movement. We stand for the fundamental freedoms necessary for everyone to be an engaged citizen.

We don’t just fight for those values. We also live them. For example, we believe in transparency and accountability. So we release a full transparency report every six months, with full financial figures, which you can see on our website at newnaratif.com/transparency

We also hold open meetings every month, in which anyone can come and ask us anything they want about New Naratif. In this way, we are fully transparent and accountable.

We are also committed to access. In our vision of Southeast Asia, no one is left behind. For example, we published a collection our best articles from our first year in a book, New Naratif: The First Year, which you can buy at Newnaratif.com/shop

We did this because there are people who are unable to read online, and while it would be so easy to ignore them, that’s not who we are. In many places, the rush towards “progress” has left many people behind—for example, the struggles that older people have with digital forms of money; or poorer people who cannot afford a computer or smartphone who are told to access government services online. New Naratif believes that a developed country is one which seeks to care for all its citizens, not just those with the resources and advantages to keep up. We believe that the true test of a society’s leadership is in how the least of us are treated. And so we are committed to making ourselves as accessible as possible.

If a tiny start-up like us can be fully transparent, and make ourselves as accessible to as many people as possible, then why not governments and major corporations with all the money and resources in the world?

How is New Naratif funded? How does your membership model work?

New Naratif is primarily funded by membership fees. Our content is advertising-free. In this way, we ensure that our priorities are aligned with the people who matter: our members. Anyone can join as a member, and it’s up to you how much you want to pay. The basic membership fee is US$52, but around 10% of our members choose to pay more for membership. Around 3% of our members pay at the highest tiers, either US$552/year or US$49/month, but all our members are treated equally. People choose to support us at higher tiers because they believe in our central mission, of promoting democracy, freedom of information, and freedom of expression in Southeast Asia.

Our website has a paywall, and only members can cross the paywall, but any member can share any article an unlimited number of times. When a member shares an article, the top of the article will say “This article was gifted to you by [member’s name]”. This reminds people that they are sharing and reading something of value. In this way, we try to balance accessibility and sustainability.

Beyond this, we are happy to accept donations, grants, and any other source of funding, provided that the funders accept the terms of our Manifesto. In particular: full academic freedom and editorial independence.

In practical terms, New Naratif is structured as a membership association registered in the UK. Our headquarters is in Kuala Lumpur, and we have a mailbox in Jakarta and an office in Medan. Our team members work in four different Southeast Asian countries.

Why should I join New Naratif as a member?

You should join New Naratif if you want to hear and support diverse independent voices in SEA. We provide a platform through which the people of Southeast Asia can tell our own stories and through this, we imagine a better Southeast Asia. We translate important research into the language of Southeast Asians. Through initiatives like the Citizens’ Agenda, we listen to the people of Southeast Asia and we endeavour to make your voice heard. We also partner with other Southeast Asian media companies who share our vision, like Malaysiakini.

We are a hub for all kinds of people – writers, journalists, artists, people who want to learn more about SEA, and people who are SEAsian experts in their own right, but have never had a chance to share and discuss their experiences with other like minded people. If this describes you, then New Naratif is where you want to be.

In New Naratif’s articles, comics, videos, and podcasts, you’ll see stories which present Southeast Asia in a way that reflects how we actually live. You’ll see stories about Southeast Asians who don’t get covered in the mainstream media: Minorities. The oppressed. The dispossessed, the voiceless, the powerless. If you are SEAsian, but want to read news that transcends narrow borders – if you want to read about our shared histories and destiny rather than narrow differences, then join New Naratif.

If you are SEAsian, but want a different perspective to the mainstream, government controlled media, then join NN. If you are SEAsian, and would like to learn more about politics, to discuss issues such as nationalism, class, gender, sexuality and race, and to share your stories with other open-minded people, then join New Naratif.

We stand for democracy, freedom of speech, and freedom of information in Southeast Asia. We research important issues facing the people of Southeast Asia, publish about those issues in accessible formats and languages, and bring people together to empower them. We stand for transparency and accountability. If you believe in those values, then New Naratif is the right place for you.

Why are you focused on the number of members, not on total funds raised?
The goal of New Naratif is to educate and inform, and so we want to reach as broad an audience as possible. Beyond a minimum amount, the total funds raised will not have a drastic impact on what New Naratif does. However, the number of members we have will drastically change New Naratif’s content, reach, and impact. As a non-profit organisation, our priority with our funding is to make sure that everyone is paid a fair wage and sustain operations. Furthermore, we see New Naratif as a movement for a better Southeast Asia. A movement’s success is tied to the number of people it can reach.

How can I stay informed about New Naratif?
Sign up for our newsletter — we will keep you up to date with how we are doing with crowdfunding, as well as inform you of upcoming events.

About Membership

What are the benefits of membership?
As a member, you will have unlimited access to the website, as well as participation in our discussions, being called upon for your expertise, and invitations to events. Perhaps most importantly, you will also have a say in how the site is run. We will be accountable to all our members.

Can I subscribe in cash?
To keep things simple for all of us, we would prefer everyone subscribe using credit card or bank transfer. However, if don’t have a credit card, or bank account, or would simply prefer to subscribe a different way, please write to us at patrons@newnaratif.com and we’ll work something out.

Can I donate money to New Naratif?
Yes. You can donate here, send donations via PayPal to admin@newnaratif.com, or write to us at patrons@newnaratif.com if you’d prefer to donate in a different way.

Where can I change the email address you have on file for me?
Your email address is critical as we will use it to contact you after the crowdfunding period to create your account and activate your membership. If you need to change your email address, please write to us at admin@newnaratif.com.

How do I give feedback?
We love to hear from you! You can find our email addresses on the About Us page or at feedback@newnaratif.com.

How do I cancel my subscription?
We’re sorry to see you go. If you wish to cancel your subscription, you can email admin@newnaratif.com. Your membership will remain valid until the end of your current subscription period, and you can resubscribe at any time.

About New Naratif

I have an idea for a story/article/comic that I’d love to publish with you. Who do I write to?
We love ideas! Write to us at pitches@newnaratif.com, or just use this pitch form.

Why not cover breaking news/more topics on New Naratif?
We have a specific aim: to explore and explain the forces which shape our lives in Southeast Asia, and we aim to keep a laser focus on that goal. However, even if we achieve our ideal target of 12,000 members, we will still be a relatively small media organisation. In comparison, even at that level the turnover of a mainstream newspaper would be a hundred or two hundred times that of New Naratif.

These newspapers will have hundreds of permanent editors employed and vast resources at their disposal. Therefore, we cannot tackle every single subject. But the larger we grow, the more correspondents we can hire and the more articles we can publish–and the more issues we can discuss.

Who are the shareholders of New Naratif?
New Naratif is wholly owned by Observatory Southeast Asia, a private company limited by guarantee and registered in England (company number 10747160), and so it does not have any shares or shareholders. Its head office is at 7200 The Quorum, Alec Issigonis Way, Oxford Business Park North, Oxford OX4 2JZ.