On this #GivingTuesday, I encourage anyone concerned about the state of our democracy to find a worthy for-profit or non-profit news organization and make a contribution, no matter how small. In Colorado, that can mean supporting the websites and newspapers trying to find a way forward in this era of shrinking news rooms and venture-capitalist profiteering.
Seven such news organizations have banded together under the hashtag #GivingNewsDay to seek your ongoing support. RealVail.com is not on that list, but I fully encourage your support of these organizations – two of which I previously worked for — that are making a difference in Colorado. And I’ve posted their press release below so you can come to your own conclusions.
I’d also like to encourage you to support RealVail.com and its sister website, RockyMountainPost.com. Since founding Real Vail in 2007 as a platform and an archive for my freelance work, I’ve reached hundreds of thousands of people with critically important stories – many of which were also widely published in mainstream publications around the nation.
I’m not a 501(c)3 nonprofit, so I can’t offer you a tax deduction, but in the same way that earlier this year I subscribed to the for-profit New York Times and have contributed low-cost and free content to Colorado publications, we all have an obligation to support the news media that’s shedding light in these dark times.
Hyper-local journalism is arguably even more important, and stories generated in places like Vail, where power and money come to play, can have an even greater impact. I contributed photos and reporting on corporate political influence for a front-page New York Times story in 2014, and more recently looked at dark money in our local political races for the Vail Daily.
Before Donald Trump was elected president, I wrote a story for the Vail Daily in which the Vail mayor called out Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric – concerned about its impact on our close relationship with Mexico. That story was picked up by other Colorado Mountain News Media papers and the Denver Post.
In the past year or so I’ve personalized the DACA debate, called out wage theft, localized the red-flag issue, examined the economic impacts of Trump’s tariff wars, helped the Vail Daily cover the primary election, written about the small business implications of Trump’s radical shift on public lands, and daylighted the despicable hate speech of someone targeting our governor-elect with homophobic bumper stickers. These stories were picked up across the state, but I was paid $75 per article.
I’m not complaining too bitterly about that, as I’m in a unique position to do what I consider pro-bono journalism, but I’m on a constant quest to increase freelance rates and support my fellow journalists. I’ve been outspoken on how badly both staffers and freelancers have been treated in the last decade and how so much blame falls at the feet of the big-tech companies squeezing out free press.
If you don’t want to make a straight-up contribution to RealVail.com, please consider advertising. When I first launched in 2007, I was pulling in hundreds of dollars in monthly advertising. That all went off the cliff with the Great Recession of 2008, and I’ve given my ad space entirely over to Google Adsense, which pays me a paltry 10 bucks or so a month. Not enough to even cover server and hosting costs.
It would not take much for me to sell all those ad spots to a company or individual that values my work and would like to see it continue or even grow. Go to my About Me page to see the 50 or so publications I’ve written for over the years, or click on my Contact Us page for my email.
Editor’s note: I edited out a mention of today’s Guardian story on Paul Manafort and Julian Assange because this plea is more for local journalism in Colorado and because of subsquent controversy. Now, as promised, here’s that local press release urging support of seven worthy Colorado nonprofit journalism organizations:
. . . #Giving Newsday
Over the past decade, as many traditional news organizations have vanished or withered, an intrepid collection of new outlets has risen to begin filling the gaps. Other public and nonprofit media outlets have redoubled their efforts to cover the West as it deserves to be covered.
Readers like you have recognized that new, credible sources of information are emerging, and you have been generous in your support of us. That’s why we, the editors of seven outlets signed below, are joining forces today to ask for your continued help.
Today, we invite you to join the national #GivingNewsDay movement, with a special gift to show your support of strong local journalism. Give a gift today, and the Colorado Media Project, an organization dedicated to strengthening and sustaining local news across Colorado, will match it. With this matching grant of up to $1,500 for each outlet — plus your donation — we can bring a total of $21,000 to public-supported Western journalism — money that will be put to good use reporting stories that matter to our communities.
Please take the opportunity to make a donation to as many local, independent news organizations as possible in this critical moment. We pledge to continue earning your trust by producing excellent journalism.
The Colorado Sun
High Country News
Rocky Mountain Public Media