To keep a reporter near Ferguson, Missouri, who would provide the liberal version of upcoming events resulting from white police officer Darren Wilson's shooting and killing of large black teenager Michael Brown on August 9, the Huffington Post website asked its readers to contribute toward that expense, and the site's audience chipped in a grand total of $40,969.
Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for the Post, declared in a "thank you note" that he and the other employees at the site were “blown away” by the generous response, which will cover local reporter Mariah Stewart's salary for a year.
Grim noted the obvious point, that the HuffPost has the resources for this story:
Some in the media deemed the project unseemly, arguing that if we feel Ferguson is so important, we ought to hire somebody and pay them ourselves. What, after all, is $40,000 for a giant company like HuffPost, owned by an even bigger company like AOL? But no media company has an infinite editorial budget. And a new hire, in general, requires a trade-off. We wanted more journalism, without reducing our political coverage elsewhere. And we knew our readers did, too.
If a reader recognized that fund-raising to leave a reporter in Ferguson was an unusual but worthwhile enterprise, the reader was free to donate. On the other hand, if a reader thought the idea absurd or offensive, then great, there was no need to give. If enough people agreed it was worthwhile, by definition, it's worthwhile to them.
Grim stated that the fund-raising project was initiated as the events in Ferguson “began to recede from the headlines,” and “a familiar pattern took shape: The national media was preparing to move to the next big story.”
“The media simply can't camp out in Ferguson indefinitely, with more stories to cover -- the ebola outbreak, the rise of the Islamic State, the border crisis and whatever unpredictable news might break,” he stated. "But on another level, the fleeing of the scene is symbolic of our country's short attention span.”
Grim broke out the socialist conspiracy theory that someone is keeping Ferguson poor as a rationale for staying in town. A link traveled to an article demanding financial reparations for blacks:
It is not by chance that black residents of Ferguson are harassed and arrested more than the whites, nor is it a historical anomaly that they have far less wealth, higher unemployment or substandard schools. The businesses that pockmark Ferguson -- the pawn shops, the liquor stores, the payday lenders -- are put in stark relief by the coffee shops and wine bars next door in Crestwood, a neighborhood that is 94 percent white and has an average income of $65,000, compared with Ferguson's $36,000.
None of this is by accident. But this this is not the kind of story that can be told in a week.
The Huffington Post bureau chief added: “By funding this project, HuffPost readers have placed their faith in us to deliver the kind of compelling coverage from Ferguson they demand,” Grim asserted.
It's interesting to note that nowhere in his post does Grim claim the ongoing coverage in the St. Louis suburb would be “honest,” “factual,” or even “fair and balanced.” Instead, Huffington Post readers can look forward to “compelling” items on a story that can't “be told in a week” but nevertheless contain a certain political point of view.