A Statement on Independence

I’m very often accused of being paid for what I do here at FreeUTOPIA. I’ve also been accused of working for UTOPIA, one of its contractors, or one of its providers. One person even went so far as to claim that I’m simply republishing things written by someone else.

All of these claims are completely and totally false. Full stop. Period. End of story.

I’ve been doing FreeUTOPIA on my own dime for almost eight years. It started on a VERY humble Pentium III 550MHz box in my home office running on my home Internet connection. I moved it several years later to VPS hosting, then again to shared hosting (because VPS ain’t cheap). I’ve spent a lot of time going to legislative and city council meetings on my own dime, have hosted multiple events for UTOPIA supporters around the Wasatch Front, and have always been ready to answer questions from supporters and detractors alike. When I don’t know the answer, I go find it.

All of my content is my own. I get stories and tips passed along, and I’m solely responsible for writing up the articles and adding my own spin to it. Some people will accuse me of being a crappy journalist and my response is always the same: I don’t consider myself a journalist (at least not in any traditional sense). See the tagline at the top? It’s pretty clear I’m in advocacy work. My writing is obviously biased and I wear that on my sleeve. If you need to take what I write with a grain of salt as a result, so be it. That’s a lot better than being highly opinionated and trying to spin what I do dispassionately.

Do I know a lot of people involved with UTOPIA? Well duh. I wouldn’t be very good at this if I didn’t. I can pick up the phone or shoot off an email to multiple contacts at UTOPIA, Macquarie, XMission, Veracity, SumoFiber, WebWave, and others when I need a question answered. I was the only one actually talking to Prime Time Communications when they went under and delivering the deeper details.. I did far more legwork on warning iProvo about the dangers of doing business with Broadweave than anyone else, warnings that proved to be completely accurate. I’ve been working on a story about the sale of AFCNet for over two years. There is nobody in the state, the country, or probably the world that can tell you more about the broadband business in Utah than I can. That’s why when a reporter needs to get up-to-speed quickly, I’m one of the first people they call.

And yet, I haven’t made any money doing this. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I won’t run ads on the site and I’ve turned down direct requests from service providers to do so. I won’t even put an anonymous tip jar on the site because I don’t know that it wouldn’t compromise my ability to stay independent. I pay for hosting out of my own pocket (though granted it’s shared with a bunch of other personal projects). I’ve even spent almost $400 of my own money this month on running Facebook ads to promote articles on the proposed deal with Macquarie because I believe in it this much. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what CenturyLink is paying their friends at the Utah Taxpayers Association to tear this thing down.

If you think I’m paid for this, the joke is on you. I’d be happy to meet you face-to-face and show you how little my bank account has to show for it. “Put your money where your mouth is” is a rare thing these days, so I can understand that there are people who won’t believe it. Just because it’s uncommon doesn’t mean it’s untrue.