Rappler comes from the root words “rap” (to discuss) + “ripple” (to make waves). It was born to a new world of possibilities – driven by uncompromising journalism, enabled by technology, and enriched by communities of action.
Through cutting-edge stories, conversations, and collaboration, we aim to speak truth to power and build communities of action for a better world.
Formed as a company in July 2011 and launched as a website in January 2012, Rappler stands on three pillars – journalism, community, technology – that are bound by the shared values of trust, courage, integrity. It is composed of veteran journalists trained in broadcast, print, and web disciplines working with young, idealistic digital natives eager to report and find solutions to problems.
Embedded in Rappler’s mindset and processes is the supremacy of editorial independence. Rappler’s shareholders signed an agreement giving full editorial, business, and management control to journalists, whose collective aim is to create a truly independent news group and a platform for communities of action.
Journalism with impact
In all that we do, we are guided by courage, clarity, and action, given the critical role that journalism plays in holding people, institutions, and tech platforms to account.
Rappler does more than break the biggest news. Its unique content comes from top-notch investigative stories as well as compelling research, analysis, explainers, and voices from Thought Leaders, citizens, and marginalized groups. It pioneered multimedia reporting and mobile journalism in the Philippines, cutting through various layers to bring news live from the field and merging journalists with broadcast, print, and tech expertise. The newsroom knows that speed should not come at the expense of its commitment to provide clarity and provoke critical thinking on the burning issues of the day.
Rappler’s team of data scientists, analysts, and journalists is behind some of the world’s most groundbreaking work on disinformation and the impact of unregulated platforms on politics, democracy, freedom, human rights, and security.
Communities of action
For journalism to matter, the community must be a part of it.
Rappler began as a community page on Facebook in 2011 through MovePH, its citizen engagement arm, that connects and partners with communities, NGOs, institutions, and government agencies on universal advocacies such as transparency and accountability, human rights, press freedom, environmental protection, and gender equality, among others.
Rappler has offered and continues to offer its platform to communities that work for meaningful change. It holds workshops with students and other sectors on how to use social media for social change, and is a partner of the United Nations in its annual Social Good Summit. For showing the world what it takes to close the loop in citizen engagement, Rappler was featured in “Digital Dividends” in the World Development Report for 2016.
Rappler enters into partnerships with funding institutions that seek to protect and promote shared values on freedom, climate protection, and human rights. In 2016, Rappler pushed its press freedom advocacy before the Philippines’ Supreme Court, which ruled in its favor and stopped the Commission on Elections from restricting online media access to the presidential and vice-presidential debates. On October 26, 2017, Rappler became a signatory member of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, a forum for fact checkers worldwide to “support fact-checking initiatives by promoting best practices and exchanges” in the industry. Together with dozens of advocates and journalists from other media companies, Rappler also petitioned the Supreme Court in 2018, asking it to lift President Rodrigo Duterte’s ban on Rappler staffers and contributors covering him.
Tech that provides meaning
Rappler’s innovation has redefined journalism and civic engagement in the digital age.
At its launch, it introduced the mood meter to highlight the power of emotions in actions and decisions and used technology to tap the wisdom of crowds. It was also behind the first-of-its-kind collaborative project between media, government, and the public called Project Agos, an online interactive news and mapping tool launched in 2013 using crowdsourcing to provide instantaneous updates to facilitate disaster response and relief.
The focus on innovation made Rappler the only startup media group included in a set of Asia-Pacific case studies that highlighted solutions that bring about economic dividends. The studies were launched and distributed at the APEC CEO Summit in Bali in October 2013.
In May 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic and to mark World Press Freedom Day, Rappler launched its new platform called Lighthouse – envisioned to efficiently leverage data and smart technology and use a system that will usher users along the path of civic engagement. In fulfillment of Rappler’s mission to build communities of action, Lighthouse is designed to help readers easily find calls to action defined by various sectors and organizations we work with. These calls to action are relevant to the issues and topics readers care about.
Transparency in ownership
Rappler’s ownership structure and annual financial statements are filed with government agencies and available to the public.
The initial funding for the startup with big dreams was brought in by Maria Ressa, the journalists who founded the Newsbreak investigative magazine, as well as investors from two Philippine companies: Hatchd and Dolphin Fire. These groups’ representatives formed Rappler’s Founding Board in 2012. Board membership slightly changed over the years; members of the 2020 Board can be found here.
Rappler Inc is nearly 99% owned by Rappler Holdings Corporation, which was set up to prepare for the news organization’s regional and global expansion and the creation of related businesses.
In May 2015, North Base Media (NBM), an investment company focused on supporting independent media in growth markets, invested in Rappler through Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs). A triumvirate of top journalists led by Marcus Brauchli founded NBM. Brauchli, who headed both the newsrooms of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, pulled in veteran journalists Sasa Vucinic and Stuart Karle.
In November 2015, Omidyar Network, created by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam to help businesses use markets and technology for social impact, also used PDRs to invest in Rappler Holdings. Omidyar Network said it invests “in entrepreneurs who share our commitment to advancing social good at the pace and scale the world needs today.”
The Philippines’ biggest media companies use PDRs, which are financial tools used by media groups and other companies that bestow no ownership and are aligned with the Philippine Constitution. Unfortunately, this was used to attack Rappler for its critical reporting on the Duterte government. Rappler, Ressa, and its board directors and staff have had to battle at least 11 government investigations and cases since 2018, foremost of which was the closure order issued by the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The order was issued in January 2018 on the basis of the Omidyar PDRs. The Court of Appeals has since remanded the order to the SEC for reinvestigation, following Omidyar’s donation of its PDRs to Rappler’s managers in February 2018. Omidyar said it made the decision to address the SEC’s “unwarranted ruling” against Rappler to allow the company to “continue operating unhindered.”
Evolving business model
To remain sustainable in an industry besieged by declining revenues, Rappler revamped existing advertising-based models in news and journalism, and moved away from CPMs (or cost per thousand) and banner advertising – vestiges of traditional media dominance.
Rappler is in the business of data and credible storytelling, services that we also extend to brand partners. Through the use of data, technology, and content, we help shape innovative and award-winning native advertising that aims to educate, empower, and inform the audience about latest trends and branded topics that are worth their time and attention.
Rappler added more buckets in its revenue stream to include data forensics, e-commerce, membership, grants, video, and special projects.
Branded content is produced by a content marketing team that is separate from the news and editorial group. All sponsored content are clearly marked and published under a section called BrandRap. – Rappler.com