Simon Ateba, an African journalist who heckled Psaki, says the payment company has removed the site’s subscription revenue

The African journalist who interrupted Jen Psaki’s final White House press briefing earlier this month said financial processing company Stripe was cutting off his publication’s revenue.

Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba provided the Post with copies of a message advising him that his website’s offer of a “lifetime” subscription – for $1,490 – violated policies. Stripe company and therefore would have to start from scratch with another payment processor.

“Hi Simon, we are writing to inform you that we have determined that your company,… is in violation of the Stripe Services Agreement. Specifically, we are unable to accept payments for one-year subscriptions or extended warranties as mentioned on our restricted business list,” reads a Sunday email signed by “The Stripe Team.” .

“We apply a notice period of 10 days before intervening on your account. Until June 8, 2022 you can continue processing as normal, but after that date your account will be closed and you will no longer be able to accept payments. We will continue to make payments to your bank account until you receive all of your funds.

The initial email added that the decision could be appealed. In an email the following Monday, however, the company told Ateba, whose Africa-focused outlet also offers $149 annual subscriptions, that its decision was “final.”

Today, Africa News reporter Simon Ateba interrupted former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s closing briefing.

Cameroon-born Ateba claimed his post was ‘almost worse than criminals’ due to blowback from Psaki’s final briefing on May 13 and added that he found it ‘suspicious’ that he was being expelled from the platform so soon after sparking outrage for interrupting Psaki on his last day on the job.

Stripe’s press team did not respond to requests for comment.

The San Francisco-based financial processing company has grown into a major business over the past decade – with investors that include politically vexatious billionaires Peter Thiel, Elon Musk and Marc Andreessen.

Stripe’s move is a serious blow to Ateba’s seven-year-old publication, which relies on subscriptions rather than ad revenue. Ateba says that while other companies process payments, Stripe’s platform is the “industry standard” and is used by other news sites.

“It’s really sad. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t even know where to start,” he said.

Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba provided the Post with copies of a message from Stripe informing him that his website's offer of a subscription
Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba provided the Post with copies of a message from Stripe advising that its website’s offer of a “lifetime” subscription violated company policies.

Jos Natalie, chairman of Today News Africa’s advisory board, said in a statement provided by Ateba: “We may be left with no choice but to go bankrupt, to close up shop.”

Ateba, 42, founded Today News Africa in 2015 and burst onto the national stage in the United States late last year with his persistent questioning during briefings. He often sits in White House press room seats vacated by their assigned occupant — often Time magazine. He then shouts aloud questions which are sometimes answered.

Ateba says he has faced harsh treatment from government officials and criminals while reporting from African countries such as Nigeria and Cameroon, and he stands out for his efforts to be called to DC.

Most reporters in the back half of the White House briefing room sit politely uncalled for weeks or months. Some news outlets with permanent seats have not been called by the White House press secretary in the year since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted last June — a notable contrast to Ateba, whose Voices can regularly be heard booming as TV reporters take turns dominating the briefings by asking half a dozen questions each.

Ateba often raises issues of concern to Africans, such as US funding to fight malaria or Temporary Protected Status for citizens of various African nations living in the United States. But he also shouts questions that other journalists might be less inclined to ask. For example, he was the first person in the room to ask Psaki about reports that she was looking for a job at CNN or MSNBC.

Psaki’s final briefing, however, earned Ateba the ire of the White House Correspondents’ Association, which threatened to remove its associate member in response to his unusually disruptive request that Psaki call reporters further down the hall. . Many journalists saw the outburst as distasteful as it stole the show from Psaki, who had just spoken fondly of his impending exit – although others, frustrated at being essentially used as human furniture at every briefing, quietly expressed their support.

Ateba said he believed it was no coincidence that he suddenly saw his outlet’s revenue under threat, which he said also threatens the livelihoods of a network of freelance journalists based primarily in Africa.

“If you’re in my shoes, do you find that a bit suspicious?” Ateba spoke about the timing of Stripe’s action. “I have no evidence to charge anyone, anyone in particular – no, no evidence, but the timing is a bit suspicious.”

In its Monday email to Ateba, Stripe representatives said, “We are unable to work with any company that we believe poses high financial risk or violates our own policies. In this case, after a thorough review of your account, we have determined that your business falls under these guidelines… This decision is final and in order to protect our processes, we are unable to provide further details regarding the reason for the closing your account. ”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

New York Post

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