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Journalist. Food Writer. Producer.

Filtering by Tag: Crowdsourcing

The Value of Story

We used to subscribe to magazines, newspapers, book clubs, and all sorts of things. We paid for these things, and enjoyed what was brought to our doorsteps and mailboxes. We would read, digest, discuss, and even occasionally throw said magazine or book across the room because someone wrote something that incensed us. 

Then the internet came around.

We started getting content for free. But more importantly, the value of said “free” content soon began to reflect the investment that was placed into paying for it. In other words, much of the content began to have next to value. 

And we accepted it because hey, it's free. 

No computers were thrown about, but we did all of a sudden have an abundance of trolls living under bridges. And clickbait. And listicles. 

I'm not interested in free content. I'm interested in good content. I'm a freelancer,and I work hard to get paid. I often joke that I won't get out of bed for less than ten cents a word* but I will tell you that oftentimes the work I am the most proud of is the work that has been paid for by people who work just as hard to pay me. 

We happily pay roughly $5 for a good latte, or a pastry, and seriously, you should pay good money for good food. Nourishment is essential to our lives. 

So is information.  

I am willing to pay so that I can be informed, educated, and inspired. A few sites/magazines/shows have gone to create online funding campaigns to kickstart their careers. They evoke a sense of charity as well as excitement, but those things wane quickly. And once that money is gone, it’s gone. You can’t budget on charity and excitement.

Recently two shows I listen to often started campaigns to get monthly patrons of their shows. CANADALAND, by Jesse Brown is a great show about media, ethics, and broadcasting. I don’t always agree with Jesse - and sometimes even think he’s a bit unnecessarily snarky - but I think he does great work. I don’t mind giving up an extra snack once a month so that he knows, somewhere, a little extra steady funding is coming in.  

Another show I decided to become a patron of was Fugitive Waves, which is part of the Radiotopia. Fugitive Waves is put out by the Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva. I had the chance to meet the two sisters, and Davia was even kind enough to give me some pointers on some of my own work.

In fact, Radiotopia is in the middle of a campaign to get people to pledge $75,000 to be able to continue to produce good content. And they were able to do it because more and more people believe in and are willing to pay for said content. 

I'm not writing this because I want to say, "Hey I'm a good guy and I do this, humblebrag, et cetera," but because I believe in changing the way we consume media, and the way we value said information. I think that's worth $5 a month. 


*With apologies and thanks to both Linda Evangelista and Melissa Buote for stealing that.

Telling, not exploiting a story

The month of January is barely half done, and yet there have been some major news stories about the lives of trans people. 

There was the story of Cece McDonald, a transgender woman who was imprisoned for 41 months after stabbing a man who attacked her. McDonald was imprisoned in a men's institution - even though she does not identify as such- but was released after 19 months.  Orange Is The New Black's Laverne Cox had been championing McDonald's cause for quite a while, and McDonald's release could not have come at a better time. 

The reason is that Cox had just been a guest on the Katie Couric show. Along with guest Carmen Carrera, Cox took the opportunity to discuss why it is inappropriate to focus on one specific part of the experience of some transgender people: namely, the state of their genitals. 

As it happened, within days of the Cox/Couric/Carrera interview, a story I had been working on for a few months for Vice was published.  The story detailed how more and more transgender people are accessing crowdsourced funds to help pay for costly sexual reassignment surgeries, or SRS. 

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In an op-ed I later wrote for Daily Xtra, I confronted the issues around discussing the lives of trans people. It is often too easy to exploit the subject of a story, rather than simply tell it, especially when one can justify a certain line of questioning - and exposing - by stating that "a general audience would not understand."  It's too easy to limit not only the scope of the story, but the breadth in which a writer can tell a story. And when we as journalists do this, everyone loses.