Dallas Morning News turns to crowdfunding to pay reporters
Dallas' daily newspaper the Dallas Morning News is turning to a surprising method to hire staff: Crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is a way to raise funds for a cause or project by asking people to donate money online. Some current campaigns on Gofundme include a family trying to exterminate bats from their rental home, a guy who can't afford a new transmission for his pickup, and a mom begging for donations to buy footwear for her son who wears an unusually large shoe size.
The Dallas Morning News wants to hire 10 journalists and is seeking $2 million.
The story (which is behind a paywall — seems counterproductive?) says they need to raise $2 million over the next two years to fund 10 positions that would include seven reporters, one editor, one photojournalist, and an audience engagement reporter.
If it were just salary, $2 million divided by 10 journalists would = $200,000 each — although that is over two years, and you'd also need to factor in health insurance, tools & equipment, and other employee expenses. So maybe $100,000 each. Plus fees for the kickstarter or whatever site they're using.
According to the story, CEO Grant Moise and executive editor Katrice Hardy made a plea to potential funders, outlining what topics funders would be getting for their money: transportation and mobility; energy, water, and natural resources; health disparities; West Dallas and southern Dallas communities; growth, development, and housing; and workforce.
They emphasized that "local community" was important and needed coverage, although if it were in fact really important, one might presume they were covering it already and would not need a special funding initiative to get it?
The News already has community-funded positions including two reporters and a reporting fellow for its Education Lab; a four-person team for Arts Access, a shared effort with KERA; a science reporting fellow; and a reporter covering faith in association with Report for America.
Newspapers usually get their funding from advertisers and subscribers. However, according to Poynter.org, in late 2023, the Dallas Morning News had not had a profitable quarter since Q4 of 2021. In October, they executed another layoff/buyout, seeking to let go of 40-plus employees. In 2023, they disbanded their Spanish-language publication Al Dia, and discontinued Briefing, their Sunday "quick read" newspaper.
It's almost unheard of to find a publicly-held for-profit corporation seeking donations, particularly since the shareholders would still be due to receive dividends, including former CEO Robert Decherd, who is the largest/controlling shareholder.