Our commitment to transparency: financial statement for 2020

We retain our commitment to transparency as a community-funded model that answers to you, our readers.

During the COVID pandemic, your support has seen us through the most difficult times. Your funding accounted for more than half of our revenue stream. We gave back, each one of us taking a severe cut in our wages to make sure our project is sustained.

This is in line with the commitment we made to you at the start – The Shift is as much your project as it is ours. A start-up independent investigative journalism outlet born from the ashes of Malta’s post-16 October 2017 media landscape. We work with you, every day, to hold power to account as is our duty as the fourth pillar of democracy.

We are firm believers in full transparency of media ownership and other interests including main sources of revenue. We are likewise staunch defenders of our independence from government and partisan political interests, thanks to our development of a hybrid business model that relies on diverse revenue streams.

This information is based on our most recent audited financial statements (2020) and will be updated each year. Our financial information for last year (2019) is available here.

Funding sources

This chart speaks for itself.

During the financial year ended 31 December 2020, a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting uncertainty, The Shift’s total income was €105,570 (a drop of just under €15,000 from last year). We broke even, incurring no losses or debts, because we made an effort from the start of the pandemic not to waste a cent of our income to ensure the project lives on.

The Shift’s income can be split up as follows (figures are rounded):

53% (€55,176) from our loyal readers – 1,762 individual readers to be exact. Of these, 1.7% donated between €101 and €500.

36% (€38,370) from international journalism and press freedom grants.

8% (€8,875) from our fundraising events (our Art for Free Press event).

2% (€1,721) from advertising (Google Ads).

1% (€1,428) COVID wage supplement (payable to all eligible employers to avoid redundancies due to COVID).

We are proud that once again 0% (€0) of our income for the year comes from the Maltese government, political parties or politicians. We don’t take their advertising (to the point where we even block their Google ads), we don’t take their opinion pieces and we certainly don’t take their paid content and present it as news. And we aim to keep it that way.

The COVID-19 pandemic came as shock to us all, let alone for a start-up investigative newsroom running on a shoestring. Like all local employers, our staff received a COVID wage supplement (paid by Malta Enterprise) which, together with some collective sacrifices by us, allowed us to avoid redundancies during the year. We do not consider this one-off scheme (where we received only €1,428), which is available to all local employers, to be capable of impacting our independence.

Malta Enterprise offered other schemes, including the notorious ‘COVID grant to the media’ which we criticised due to its lack of transparency and the resulting risk of, even indirectly, influencing newsrooms. We naturally refused to take part and will continue to campaign for transparency on who was paid what and under what conditions. We think you deserve to know.

Running a newsroom is not cheap. We all agreed to take a cut to our salaries (down to 18% of our expenses from 35% the previous year) and also had to give up the rented offices to save on cost.  Our other overheads involved content production (35% of expenditure), administration (14%), web hosting and equipment (9%) and professional fees (5%). We also took the lockdown year to invest in further training and security for our journalists (19%).

We are funded by you, our loyal readers, and the organisations (including the EU) that aim to safeguard your right to know by funding good, hard-hitting journalism. We are eternally grateful.

The support funded our efforts on investigations into the stories that matter.

Our heartfelt thanks once again also go to our volunteers, whose time and contribution remains priceless. You know who you are, and we are grateful.

Ownership

The Shift is owned and operated by Tula Ltd, a Maltese company wholly beneficially owned by our hard-working managing editor, Caroline Muscat, who was awarded the international Reporters Without Borders Prize for Independence. The Shift has also been awarded the prize for courage by the US embassy in Malta, and was chosen by Financial Times publication Sifted as one of the European start-ups to look out for in 2021.

All retained earnings by Tula Ltd are, under its articles of association, required to be invested in journalism (i.e. The Shift).

                           
                               
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James
James
7 months ago

Bravo!!

Just a shame the Government can’t be so transparent about where they spend their income..

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