Opinion; The Independentarian

The Goals of BI News (from 2014)

This essay was originally published on Basic Income News in March 2014.



Basic Income is suddenly the subject of much more discussion around the world. Political movements are growing. The media, social networks, and blogs have suddenly devoted more attention to basic income. Basic Income News (BI News) suddenly has much more news to report. The website is running two-to-five stories a day, and its accompanying NewsFlashes have more news than they can fit. This is a good time to talk about the goals of BI News and the accompanying NewsFlashes.



BI News has three main goals. Most importantly, it keeps readers informed about all the news directly relevant to the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) around the word. Secondly, it keeps readers informed about events organized about BIG and publications written about BIG. Thirdly, it includes features providing a mouthpiece for members of BIEN and its affiliates to write blogs, opinion pieces, and book reviews about BIG.

The first goal of BI News is important because activists, researchers, and anyone interested in BIG need a place where they can find out what is happening around the world that is relevant to BIG. No one other website is doing it, and no others are likely to start. You can’t just search Google News for “basic income” and expect to find all the news about BIG. There are more than a dozen, perhaps dozens, of terms for BIG in English alone. There are policies and programs that are forms of BIG or that share some of the characteristics of BIG but that are not discussed in terms of BIG: the Alaska Dividend, some cash transfers, the Earned Income Tax Credit, dividends from casino revenue on U.S. Indian Reservations, the Bolsa Familia in Brazil, GiveDirectly in Uganda, and many, many more. There are also policies that are described in the words “basic income” or words very similar to terms for BIG but aren’t BIG or aren’t very closely related to it. The news section of BI News shows readers what proposals, policies, and social activism around the world related to BIG and explains that connection.



This effort requires consistent monitoring of mainstream news, social media, blogs, and other sources of information. It involves original reporting to make the necessary connections to BIG as well as meta-reporting—reporting about reporting. Articles in this section of BI News are written from a neutral perspective, because the goal of this section is not to persuade but to inform. There are many arguments going around about BIG, but only one news source dedicated to informing people about BIG. This service is valuable to activists, researchers, and anyone interested in BIG.

This section reports only on issues directly relating to BIG. It doesn’t report on other social policies or on the economic and social conditions that create a need for BIG unless there is some direct connection to BIG in the news on these issues. The reason is that news indirectly relating to BIG outnumbers the news about BIG by orders of magnitude. If BI News reported on all these other things, its focus on BIG would be lost.

Stories from the news section of BI News can be found at this link: http://binews.org/category/latest-news/.



The second goal of BI News is to keep people informed about events being held and literature being written about BIG around the world. The goal of publicizing events is obvious. It helps our members, our affiliates, other networks, and hosting institutions to publicize events related to BIG. The goal of keeping up with the literature is important because of the dispersion and the diversity of the BIG literature today. So many different terms for BIG are used that there simply is no easy way to find it on a search. As far as we know, no other group is keeping a comprehensive bibliography of the literature on BIG as BI News attempts to do.

BI News posts summaries of the more important publications and attempts to post at least the publication information and a link to all publications, even the less important ones. We do this because, even if one individual publication is not terribly importantly by itself, the dialogue as a whole is important. If you want to know what is being said about BIG at a given time or what has been said over a given period, BI News has collected and organized that information. We’re doing a fairly good job of that for English-language publications right now, and hopefully, as we expand we will do it for more and more languages.

Articles in these sections are also written from a neutral perspective, because as with the goal of reporting the news, the goal of reporting on events and publications is also to inform, not to persuade. The literature and events in this section also must directly relate to BIG, again because reporting on wider literature would sacrifice our focus on BIG.

The BI literature posts on BI News are here: http://binews.org/category/bi-literature/.

Events posts are here: http://binews.org/category/events/. Links are here: http://binews.org/category/links/.

BIN Italia

BIN Italia

Persuasion is the third goal of BI News. The features section, which includes blogs, opinion pieces, book reviews, and occasional podcasts and interviews, performs this function. This section provides an outlet for BIEN members to write their opinions about BIG, sometimes directed at other supporters, sometimes directed at a wider audience. Arguing for the cause of BIG has obvious value, but there are several reasons why this goal ranks third. The readership of BI News is overwhelmingly made up of people who already support BIG. They’re already convinced; their primary need is for information. Another reason this is a lesser important goal is that there are many places around the world where people can publish features having to do with BIG, but only BI News is pursuing the first two goals. However, making the case for BIG is valuable. BI News provides a place for BIEN members and supporters to become a part of that dialogue. Right now we’re running an average of about one feature per week, but we are hoping to increase that substantially, perhaps eventually to one feature per day.

A list of and links to the latest features can be found on the homepage of BI Newshttp://binews.org/. Blogs can be found by going to the Features dropdown list and selecting blogs.

To keep up with these goals, BI News maintains a website, updated at least once a day, and a regular newsletter, collecting the recent stories from the website. As we expand our volunteer base, we will expand what we do.
-Karl Widerquist, Doha, Qatar, March 2014

Volunteers needed for BI News

If you’d like to help, we need volunteers. Primarily we need people with one of two skills. We need writers to help us report the news and we need people with website-design skills to help us improve how we present it. Among our writers, we need people with language skills. The languages we need most are English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Italian, but if news is happening in any language, we need writers to report on it. If you would like to help spread the word about BIG, please contact the editor of BI News, Karl Widerquist <Karl@widerquist.com>.

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 974 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website (works.bepress.com/widerquist/). More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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