What if someone you know started a GoFundMe campaign to purchase renters insurance? So that in the case of an unfortunate event like a flood or a fire, they would be covered.
This is complete conjecture, but I doubt that they would hit any significant goal. I’m a sweet old liberal softy pants, and even I can see myself asking why I should cough it up for someone else’s bills. What’s next? Paying for their groceries and healthcare before they get sick or hungry?
On the other hand, in any given year I probably spend anywhere from fifty to a hundred bucks on fundraisers for friends or friends of friends whose cribs go up in flames. I guess it is just easier to summon my compassion after shit hits the fan.
I consider the phenomenon described above whenever there is news that yet another legendary and beloved outlet is ceasing to publish. Perhaps this is the bitter alternative-newspaper lifer in me that’s speaking, but I have to say that there’s a lot more crying for us when we flame out than there is caring and preventative support when we’re still in the game.
The awful news this past week came from New York City, my hometown, where the Village Voice was dealt a final blow with the remaining edit staff getting axed. Every publication has its own story, of course, and few have more twists than the Voice; in its 60-plus years of existence, the iconic institution has passed through multiple ownerships, including a short stint by Rupert Murdoch who was skewered by his editors and writers week in and week out until he relented and sold. Their latest owner wasn’t too much better; a wealthy brat who hoped to save the day, he apparently misread the market, industry, and era in which he was operating. No real loss for him, I guess. He’s still rich.
I was asked to write about the passing of the Voice for several outlets. I may entertain one of the offers in some time if those national editors still want my take (I’m sure they don’t and have already forgotten), but right now I can’t help but feel that eulogizing yet another dead friend for a spiffy new media site is like conceding defeat. Plus, while I could really use the couple hundred bucks that it would pay, I don’t really have the time anyway. Here at the Dig, along with our partners from the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, we are busy working on multiple investigations—you know, the kind that critics who don’t know the first thing about independent media in 2018 keep alleging that papers like ours have stopped producing. If the lamenters understood the issue, then they would recognize that in the past year alone BINJ has helped and inspired alt weeklies in more than a half-dozen cities to start their own nonprofits to help lift heavy journalistic loads.
This column isn’t just about the Village Voice. Or Baltimore City Paper, which sadly closed its doors in 2016, or even LA Weekly, which under its current conservative ownership is merely a deceptive shallow shadow of the giant it once was. These days, I’m sad about a lot more than the oft-mourned likes of the Boston Phoenix, where I worked for five years as a staff writer before it shut in 2013. Journalism experts in Manhattan may not give a fuck, but we’re losing insurgents beyond major metropolitan areas as well—just last month, the Valley Advocate, which serves Western Mass, was folded into the daily that owns it, in a sense silencing a 40-year-old voice in the same cold corporate manner we’ve seen many times before.
As for the Dig, we’re still kicking ass. If you want us to keep at it, make sure that your business and those of your friends place ads with us; or, if you are an individual, please consider becoming a monthly backer of our nonprofit at binjonline.org. You can consider your donation to be like insurance for the local media, because if we have to come and ask you for a handout after our house burns down too, then I’m afraid that it will be too late.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.