Thursday, April 16, 2009

spare-change journalism

Go here to read about a piece by Katharine Mieszkowski about non-profit journalism that highlights a couple of digital models: the Voice of San Diego and

Doing good work, but on a shoestring. From the story:

Jay Weiner is one of MinnPost's star reporters. A former sportswriter, his relentless coverage of the Norm Coleman-Al Franken recount case at MinnPost won him the Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Award for excellence in breaking news. The 54-year-old Weiner, who has been a full-time daily journalist for 31 years, took a buyout from the Minneapolis Star Tribune in June of 2007. At the newspaper, he made $80,000 a year with a pension, health insurance, vacations and overtime. Weiner, who has two kids in college, now makes $700 a week, working as many as 60 hours a week with no vacations, no overtime, no healthcare and no pension, on contract for MinnPost.

"Now I have to work 52 weeks a year to make $35,000 and pay for my own Internet access, phone, notebooks and pens," he says. Yet even as he wonders how long he can continue to afford to do this gig, he revels in the excitement of working at a start-up news organization, not a shrinking newspaper.

"I am so happy to not be at the newspaper," he says. "We're growing, there is freedom, we're all involved in a product that we really want to make as good as possible. Everybody has a certain amount of optimism that this can be something great." For the moment, Weiner cobbles together other freelance projects on the side to supplement his income from MinnPost.

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