Radar magazine has folded for the third time, this time apparently for good (although the website has been sold to AMI, which publishes The National Enquirer, and will become a competitor to TMZ and other celebrity sites). Among others, this has stranded Web journalism legend Ana Marie Cox, who was reporting on the U.S. election campaign for the magazine, so she is asking readers to support her directly in a bid to continue writing until the election is over (she still writes a blog for Time magazine as well).
Cox, who was the founding editor of Gawker’s Wonkette blog before moving to Time magazine — and has also written for Mother Jones magazine, as well as for Feed magazine and the godfather of all snarky blogs, Suck.com — has set up a tiered approach to reporting that gives her sponsors a chance to participate in her reporting to some extent. It includes:
* Over $10: A personal thank-you email
* Over $50: A personal thank-you phone call
* Over $100: My instant message screen name, regular personal updates via email and/or instant messages on election night
* Over $250: I will ask a senior McCain adviser the question of your choosing and send you the MP3 audio of the exchange
* Over $500: Phone call from McCain headquarters on election night
* Over $1000: One-on-one post-election dinner debrief
There are some pretty interesting dynamics involved there. What if Ana Marie gets a ton of people signing up for $100? She could have sore fingers on election night. What if she gets a bunch of $250 sponsors? That could make for some interesting questions, and potentially something newsworthy from the McCain campaign. And if she gets a pile of $1000 sponsors, then she’s going to have a busy social schedule :-)
Is this the future of political reporting? I doubt it. But it’s still an interesting experiment — similar to what several writers did during the beginning of the Iraq war — and I wish her the best of luck.
As he mentions in a comment below, Josh Benton — the director of the Nieman Journalism Lab — interviewed Ana over email about her fund-raising plans. She apparently has $2,500 raised already, with the bulk of it coming in $10 increments, and has added some features to the sponsorship program, including the right to name her seat on the campaign plane.