Miami Herald’s Tip Jar’s Working

The Miami Herald added a tip jar to its web site last week, a move fraught with controversy.

But so far the reaction has been “encouraging,” according to Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal. “The first few days of this experiment have elicited an encouraging steam of gifts, ranging from $2 to $55. They’ve also provoked an array of reactions, here and across the country, since this has drawn attention as the first effort of its kind.”

Why is it controversial? On the one hand, we’ve lost count of the number of people who have said “I will gladly pay [insert media organization] here for the use of its Web site, but they won’t let me send [media org] a check.” Most companies just aren’t set up to accept donations. On the other hand, you don’t want to look like you’re trolling.

A couple commenters have come down hard on the no-tipping side:
“Yeah, I’m going to tip a for-profit business. I’d rather burn my money,” wrote one. “I thought those advertisers actually paid you guys to put all this stuff up,” said another.

The Herald, of course, isn’t the first media organization to ask for donations (cf. Consumerist), but it may be the first mainstream media organization of this size to do so.

A tip jar probably won’t subsidize a big newsroom, but it may play a part in how media organizations budget in the future. There are still so many factors to be worked out: will reporters’ salaries be directly impacted by the tips that come in? If so, will the reporters who cover cute animals get significantly higher tips? Could you imagine working for tips? It’s usually something you do (you know, waiting tables, bartending, stripping) while you’re trying to get a “real” job in media, not something you look forward to.