Empowering Connections, or How a Surprising Network Changed My Life

Fair Observer is a community dedicated to free dialogue, and only in a community — a network of real people — can we escape from untrustworthy corporate or state media.

May 10, 2023 22:11 EDT

Dear FO Reader,

My background to involvement with Fair Observer is different from many of my other colleagues who have, and will, post their stories on FO° Wednesday. I have no particular background in journalism or the media. Indeed, for reasons that I explain below, I’m not even really a fan of it. But perhaps that is what attracted me…


A couple of years ago, I embarked on what I hoped would become my third career, even if I didn’t really know what that would involve. I had spent 16 years as a diplomat for the British government, and then nine years as a partner in a professional services firm, and now I was looking for what might come next. But what was the unifying thread of the past quarter of a century that might also take me into a new future? With help from friends, I worked out that that thread was the development and optimisation of professional networks, as a means to offer support and insight to organizations and individuals that need it. I have continued to do that, in different and sometimes unexpected ways. But it was as I was working this out for myself that I was introduced to Atul by a mutual and dear friend.


My time in both government and the private sector taught me that much, most even, of what one reads in the media is untrustworthy. Newspapers, TV and radio have always been used as a source of PR or propaganda, whether by nation states, companies or individuals, but over my lifetime this is something that has become far more pronounced. The advent of 24/7 news coverage, and its attendant insatiable appetite both for new content and different takes on the old, has to my mind had a profound and negative effect, particularly for those fortunate enough to live in democracies. The politicians we elect supposedly to govern our countries seem to spend increasingly disproportionate amounts of time pandering to media outlets, from broadsheets to social media, rather than thinking about how best to carry out their duties of stewardship of our political and economic systems.


My own time in government showed me how much of what is published in the media is incorrect, spin or intentional falsehood. Even accusations of “fake news” are all too usually fake news! And as has been widely pointed out, the rapid rise in highly capable Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools is only likely to make it more difficult to distinguish truth from fiction in the content we are inundated with.


So what I saw in Fair Observer brought these two elements together. FO° is, at its most fundamental, a network of people who believe in the concept of free speech and have issues and views that they want to put out there, because they feel that others should know about them. Those issues and views are of course subjective, and it is important to recognise and accept that while engaging critically with the content. But the articles our authors provide are, for the most part, refreshingly free of ulterior motives or agenda.


That is Fair Observer’s great strength and, as someone who believes in the power of networks, something with terrific potential to build on. For me, the challenge and excitement of FO° is to see its network of providers and supporters grow, and increasingly become a community that can underpin its aim of offering independent, diverse perspectives to inform and educate its readership—whether occasional informal consumers or those who want genuinely to understand the realities of issues and events around the world, for personal interest and to benefit their enterprises. That seems to me something that is currently missing from the world we now live in, and well worth striving for.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Watson

Advisor, Fair Observer

We are an independent nonprofit organization. We do not have a paywall or ads. We believe news must be free for everyone from Detroit to Dakar. Yet servers, images, newsletters, web developers and editors cost money. So, please become a recurring donor to keep Fair Observer free, fair and independent.

Read from anywhere

This email was sent to *|EMAIL|*
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences

Support Fair Observer

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.

In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.

We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.

Will you support FO’s journalism?

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

Donation Cycle

Donation Amount

The IRS recognizes Fair Observer as a section 501(c)(3) registered public charity (EIN: 46-4070943), enabling you to claim a tax deduction.

Make Sense of the World

Unique Insights from 2,500+ Contributors in 90+ Countries

Support Fair Observer

Support Fair Observer by becoming a sustaining member

Become a Member