By Nancy West
founder of the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism
We need to talk. I have been having such a great time with the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism and our website InDepthNH.org that I haven’t kept my eye on the ball. We need to pay people what they are worth. And mostly we don’t pay people at all. My bad.
That is pathetic when you consider we have the best people in the business working for nothing or next to nothing for InDepthNH.org because they love what they do, they are the best at it and they can’t seem to stop – even when they are not getting paid.
Jeesh. People like Chris Jensen, our North Country reporter who also writes for the New York Times and FairWarning.org, puts heart and soul into InDepthNH.org because he wants to help save journalism in New Hampshire. Chris worked for free for six months before we got a grant from the Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. We are forever grateful for the grant, but Chris still makes less than minimum wage even with the grant, which will run out at the end of the year. We have been able to accomplish far more than we expected with the Tillotson grant, but we want to do even more and we need your help to do so.
Then we have our Why You Should Care NH columnist and copy editor Bob Charest, writer Susan Dromey Heeter of Dover who lifts my spirits every week with her Joyful Musings, Roger Wood, the man with the golden radio voice, Jen Hollidge, the Concord writer, and others who do what they can for free, and have been doing so for almost two years.
Even veteran journalists like John Harrigan contribute to our future and ask nothing in return. And young writers like Emma Simpson and Tori Tucker created The Gay Agenda because they have important things to say and we all truly need to hear their voices. Bill Cobb raises the voices of differently abled people in the new column Partners in Possibilities, also for no money.
InDepthNH.org follows our mission to hold government accountable and give voice to marginalized people, places and ideas. But we need to do more and we need to pay people – the very best professionals – to do it.
We have adopted the world’s finest editorial cartoonist, NH’s own Mike Marland, but alas can’t even pay him except through a CrowdRise fundraising campaign, that is getting harder to keep up with. We are forming a task force fan club to help.
The fault is mine. Me, Nancy West. We need money and volunteers to keep going, a lot of money and a lot of volunteers. I hate asking, but the buck stops with me.
We have tried to entice wealthy donors to invest in the future of news in NH with tax-deductible donations. We have encouraged businesses to advertise and I must say Northeast Delta Dental stepped right up to the plate. Thank You Northeast Delta Dental. Still, we need more. And you our readers have really tried. A bunch of you are now giving anywhere from $5 to $25 a month to help and some are making donations in lump sums from $10 to one gift of $1,000. You are really getting us.
It requires money to pay talented journalists and the staff to support real news.
Brass tacks. How much do we want? How much do we need? How much news that matters do you want? My goal is to have a $1 million annual budget within five years, but we will start anywhere shy of that.
We want to keep Chris Jensen reporting. We want to pay all of our contributors. We want to hire a director of development to raise money through grants, donations and events. We want to hire an environmental reporter and a general assignment reporter. When you look at what we have accomplished with very little money, it is truly amazing.
Think what we can do with a real budget. A goal of $250,000 for this year would be a great start. If you are a millionaire who cares about news, call me. If you know a millionaire who cares about news, call him/her and give a nudge.
If you care about news and are not a millionaire, don’t know any millionaires, then the buck stops with you. Please email email@example.com and volunteer to help build our board of directors, help us expand our FaceBook presence, or just read our stories and tell a friend. Or click the donate button, buy an ad and/or send a check.
News matters now more than ever and you have the opportunity today to get in on the ground floor of building the future of news in New Hampshire.
Did I mention we have a really great time doing it? Thanks and Happy Mother’s Day.