Warning: Reporting on reporting is hazardous to your health

February 10, 2009

Covering the decline of the U.S. newspaper business is the extreme sport of journalism. Ask American Journalism Review, which is pleading for funds to help it survive. Here’s an excerpt from a letter I got in the mail this morning (haha. Letter. Paper.):

The many daunting challenges facing the news media today, coupled with the nation’s economic crisis, have worsened the ongoing financial pressures on American Journalism Review.

That’s why we have formed “The Friends of AJR,” bringing together those who believe in the need for deeply reported, non-ideological media criticism, in an effort to ensure the magazine’s future. While AJR has been a critical success, keeping it going has never been easy. No journalism review has ever been self-sustaining. No exception. AJR is dependent on fundraising.

The “Friends of AJR” is designed to help meet this financial challenge. The Friends’ goal is to raise a minimum of $100,000 a year to help subsidize printing, distribution and online operations. To become a “friend” means a financial commitment on a level appropriate for each donor. A contribution of $1,000 or more puts you in the “Publisher” category. A donation of $500 to $999 lists you among the “Editors,” and a gift of $100 to $499 puts you in the “Reporter” category.

Typical, isn’t it? Reporters are always at the bottom.

The attached sheet offers readers the chance to make one-time or monthly payments ($88.34 a month for publishers, $41.67 for editors, $10.42 for reporters).

I don’t know¬†what it says about AJR’s chances for survival when it is asking its core audience to help save it; after all, more of those people are getting laid off. Then again, this former Dallas Morning News foreign correspondent and editor has switched to running a high-end strip club (see fourth paragraph from the bottom). There’s a man who might be able to generate a few ducats to save journalism.

As for AJR, I called Editor Rem Rieder to ask how long the magazine has if it fails to meet its goal. I had to leave a message.

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