I would begin by ranting about new lows in paying journalists, but the events in Ferguson are already so gut wrenching on their own that it would be a bit dramatic.
That doesn’t mean that crowdfunding a journo is ok. Today, The Huffington Post announced that it is going to allow local resident Mariah Stewart to train with their staffer Ryan Reilly to:
…cover the ongoing story of Ferguson, tracking the federal investigation into the killing of Michael Brown and reporting on the empaneled grand jury. She’ll monitor the activity of the local and county police forces once the national spotlight dims, and will learn the intricacies of public records requests in an effort to divine the funding sources and uses of military gear in the county.
They’re calling it the Ferguson Fellowship and it will all be done through Beacon. Is this a good idea? It’s certainly true that the best images and live reporting from what I’ve come to think of as the seventh level of hell, has come from residents on the ground.
But, but. Why can’t they just hire another reporter? Because while I’m all about empowering and training and teaching young journalists (and it’s nice that she’s a woman), I also know a lot of people who paid large universities (like Ms. Stewart) to learn the craft and could sure as heck use a job this fall. Mariah could probably use a salary with benefits and some paid sick and vacation days, too. The Beacon campaign only goes through if it reaches $40,000. I am curious about how that is paid out to her? Or just to HuffPo? Do they throw Reilly a little tip for his troubles?
For some reason, if it were the local Ferguson paper saying “hey, we’re broke and need to hire someone to help continue good coverage” I would be more interested. That The Huffington Post can’t spare $40,000 a year for a reporter makes this freelancer want to curl up into a ball and listen to the new Taylor Swift album, a sure a sign as any that the world is coming to an end.
And then, some rewards for donating. For $2,000 you can get a shout out from the HuffPo Twitter account. Seriously.
What do you think about the Fellowship? Let us know @10,000Words.