Say this for laid-off reporters trying to set up online news sites: They don’t give up easily. A group in Seattle led by reporters from the shuttered print Seattle Post-Intelligencer says it only has enough cash in the bank to go for another three weeks but still has hopes for hiring full-time staffers while a group of reporters from the defunct Rocky Mountain News in Denver is trying again with a new site after their first venture didn’t meet with instant success.
The new site in Denver, The Rocky Mountain Independent, has many of the same reporters who worked at INDenver Times, which set an ambitious goal of having 50,000 paying subscribers but only ended up attracting 3,000 (INDenver Times still exists). Editor Steve Foster tells the weekly Denver Westword that the staff at The Rocky Mountain Independent is trying a new strategy this time around—focusing only on “original” content, rather than on also aggregating stories. Like with the INDenver Times, the Rocky Mountain Independent is asking people to pay to subscribe. For $4 a month, members gets access to premium content on the site as well as the opportunity “to chat with RMIs staff about the news of the day,” according to an announcement on the website.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, The Seattle Post Globe, which has asked for donations to help fund its site, put out an appeal for additional funds this week-end saying, “we should be able to keep going for at least three more weeks.” Founder Kery Murakami tells paidContent that the site has raised $12,000 via donations and ads so far. (When the site launched in mid-April, he said it would be “nice” to get 8,000 people to contribute $10 a month.) Murakami says that the site is paying freelancers about $1,000 a week—and only has $3,000 in the bank. “Donations have been coming in at around $1,000 a week to sustain us, but not enough to give us more surety beyond that,” he says. “So we have about three weeks left. But that’s also the way it’s been for awhile.” In his latest appeal, he nevertheless floats the idea of hiring five full-time reporters. But he says he would need to pay them $3,500 a month, less than what they would get working at a newspaper, but more than the typical $2,400 for unemployment.
By Joseph Tartakoff