Friday, March 27, 2009

Plan for An Online Paper I Posted Long Ago

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It(Ted Rall at the Comics Journal message board, commenting on how hard it would be to create a left paper...)That's a great idea, but one that will cost a substantial amount of money. One of the big problems nowadays is that what's needed to take down Bush is a team of investigative reporters, a very pricey proposition which is why so few papers use them.

You want a budget for an alternative online press? I'll give you one on the small scale and the large scale (Who knows: Maybe you'll meet Barbara Streisand on the set of "To Afghanistan and Back" and you'll get a Sugar Mommy...You know she funds the excellent Center for Public Integrity...!)

Let's take $1 million and make the HQ Washington D.C.

Here's a tentative budget:

5 Staff Reporters:

$60000 apiece, total: $300000

Three Salespersons, base 20,000 and 30 percent of ad revenue:

Total: $60000 ($360000)

One Tech Guy

Total: $50000 ($410000)

Living Allowance (Let's Get the Best Journalists and bring Greg Pallast back home.)

Total ($1000 a month per writer) $60000 ($470000)

Make it Online Only. Costs for Computers, domain names, several laptops, DSL and PDAs:

$50000 ($520000)

HQ Costs, Health Insurance

Total: $100000, ($720000)

Freelance Budget

Total: $120000 ($840000)

(Pay $300 to $500 for arts and movie pieces, books and comics reviews, fiction. More money for larger pieces.)

One fulltime Fact Checker/Attorney

$60000 ($900000)

One Full Time Editor (Suggestions: William Grieder, Greg Pallast, Kovach)

$100,000 ($1 million dollars)

I think that's everything for one full year. A trust fund of $10 to $100 million could go a long long way. You have to keep costs down. (You might consider buying a building or a mansion outright...) With a strong staff corp and a healthy freelance budget you could create enough interesting content to create an American Guardian.

Here are some interesting details: One year contracts with progressive discipline. Allow the writers to legally publish anything they write unedited (with the possible exception of libelous or lawsuit material). Create a bill of civil rights for journalists. Create open freewheeling message boards. Take on all comers. The salaries would automatically get you the best people. For staffers I would suggest contacting Pallast, Gary Webb, Kovach, the exiled yet excellent Atlanta Constitution editor who broke the bank redlining stories (he teaches now), and every journalist profiled in Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of the Free Press. By the way, good investigative reporting doesn't have to be expensive. Public Citizen routinely provides great stuff and they pay their people anywhere from $25000 to $50000.

I would suggest using the blog as a new model for daily journalism. Require the staffers to provide a mininum of 2500 words for three weeks in succession and then a week off for reading and research. (Here's something fun: Insist that they write several fiction stories a year and give the paper a 10 percent cut of Universal Rights. In other words, you could write To Iraq and Back, but the paper would get 10 percent of film revenues, book sales, action figures. The goal is to make it self-sustaining. Frankly, though, my favorite plan is raiding the classified ad stream of Big Print media. Would serve those frells right...)

Don't do a paper edition. Make it online only to keep down costs. Obviously, you could cut down on the costs. Well known penny pincher and cheap guy Ralph Nader could bring you the same product for about several hundred thousand dollars less, but if you have the money...

That's the small plan by the way. What's your plan that costs millions of dollars...Salon Two? A paper edition?

There is a big plan by the way. Get a hundred or so of your rich Hollywood pals (Don't do a Bill Griffith. Take those calls and make compromises so they want Adam Sandler or Pauly Shore to play Ted Rall so what...Get a good director, though. Hey, I like Oliver Stone. Is Costas Gravas still alive...?) and put those papers into 12 states, preferably swing states. Do national and state corruption stories. (Nobody writes about the corruption at the state levels, which is what the Center for Public Integrity is focusing on...) Want an even bigger plan? Get your Hollywood Left, the ones who have bankrolled the Dems and gotten Joe Lieberman to condemn them, to put their money into buying a network. Want an even bigger plan? Buy up a portion of the underused fiber optic glut and buy up one or two of the WIFI startups and create your own national communications infrastructure. Include cheap DSL and as many channels as you want (Gawd a decent music channel for once) (Soros could do that)....just more stray thoughts...