In August, The Huffington Post joined with Beacon Reader, a crowdfunding platform for primarily freelance journalists, to launch the Ferguson Fellowship, a crowd-funded way to ensure coverage for the next year from the Missouri town where unarmed man Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson.
Asking the public to fund its coverage from Ferguson, Mo. drew criticism from several members of the media, including AdAge’s Simon Dumenco (via this article), The Guardian’s Alex Koppelman (via this tweet), and Jim Romenesko (via this post). HuffPost Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim responded on HuffPost Live, saying, “Sure, the criticism is fair, but we are seriously investing in it…Either it was going to be this way, or we weren’t going to be able to have someone on the ground.”
In support of fellowship recipient Mariah Stewart, 633 backers have surpassed the $40,000 goal to enable Stewart’s coverage from Ferguson for The Huffington Post over the next 12 months. The goal was met Sunday, three days prior its deadline. A Huffington Post spokesperson told FishbowlDC the outlet did not contribute to the $40k goal in order to have it met before deadline.
“Some in the media deemed the project unseemly, arguing that if we feel Ferguson is so important, we ought to hire somebody and pay them ourselves,” wrote Grim in a ‘thank you’ post today to supporters. “What, after all, is $40,000 for a giant company like HuffPost, owned by an even bigger company like AOL?”
He went on to add, “But no media company has an infinite editorial budget. And a new hire, in general, requires a tradeoff. We wanted more journalism, without reducing our political coverage elsewhere. And we knew our readers did, too.”
Asked what’s next after the goal has been met, Grim told FishbowlDC, “Now we do the reporting.”
Stewart thanked supporters Thursday in a post to Beacon Reader. She wrote, “Not many people get to do what they love for a living. Thank you, for making that dream come true for me. Everyday that I’m in Ferguson reporting, I think about how it was made possible by such great people.”
Stewarts coverage for The Huffington Post can be seen here.