The Huffington Post has decided that Ferguson, Missouri is worthy of long-term attention from the media, and therefore is asking  individuals to help fund a “Ferguson Fellowship” to the tune of $40,000. They want to ensure that the town isn’t forgotten after the media hubbub dies down from the Michael Brown shooting.
After all, once the media leaves, according to HuffPo, “the local police will still be there, along with the structural inequality and racial disparities that sparked the crisis.”
Apparently the media had nothing to do with helping to foment the crisis, in HuffPo’s eyes.
HuffPo will be working with journalism crowdfunding site Beacon to raise the necessary funds to pay for a local citizen journalist who has been covering the events in Ferguson, and train her to be a professional journalist:
We’re raising $40,000 in collaboration with The Huffington Post to create a new type of fellowship that trains and promotes promising new journalists on the local level. It’s called the Ferguson Fellowship and it isn’t possible without your support.
For the first time, you have the power to ensure on-the-ground coverage from Ferguson remains a part of the national conversation. The first Ferguson Fellow, Mariah Stewart, has already made an impact with her coverage on Beacon. But she can do even more with training, guidance, and support from The Huffington Post.
Mariah’s coverage from Ferguson has already been seen on the BBC, Al Jazeera and beyond. With your support, she’ll be able to do even more with a fellowship at The Huffington Post.
She’ll work closely for a whole year with The Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly to cover the ongoing federal investigation into the killing of Michael Brown. Together, they’ll report on the activity of local and county police forces, long after the mainstream media returns home.
With your support, Mariah will learn the intricacies of public records requests. She’ll use those skills to investigate the funding sources and uses of military gear in St. Louis County, follow efforts to reform police procedures aimed at curbing abuse and monitor the ongoing activity of local police and their unfolding relationship with the local community. To enable this, we’re aiming to crowdfund at least $40,000 for 12 months of coverage plus benefits. After the first year, we’ll continue the fellowship if interest remains.
Backers on Beacon will get notifications whenever a new story is published, as well as exclusive interactions with Mariah and Ryan. Reporting from the fellowship will be shared with the more than 79 million people who read The Huffington Post each month, as well as made available on an open-source basis to any outlet interested in distributing it.
Crowdfunding of ideas and inventions has taken off in the last few years, and there have been a few journalists who have relied on the generosity of their readers to make a living. But what makes this interesting is that HuffPo isn’t some small, independent, underfunded news organization—rather it is owned by AOL, a Fortune 500 company with a market capitalization of $3.44 billion.
And they couldn’t spare $40k to fund this project?
I guess what HuffPo is trying to do is make this a true grassroots effort, giving individuals the sense that they will help bring social justice, etc… to Ferguson, which is the furthest thing from the truth. It’s really more about HuffPo’s grandstanding and trying to keep stirring the pot.