< Pledge You, Pledge Me

Transcript

Friday, October 31, 2008

BROOKE GLADSTONE:
The Christian Science Monitor announced that starting next April, the daily print edition will no longer be soiling your fingers. Instead, it'll arrive in subscribers’ inboxes as a PDF file. There will still be a weekly print edition, but The Monitor soon will become the first national newspaper that will no longer be an actual daily paper.
BOB GARFIELD:
These days there’s a constant stream of bad news about venerable print products. This week, the Gannett Company, publisher of 85 dailies and more than 800 local non-dailies, announced it would be cutting 10 percent of its workforce after a nearly 18 percent drop in ad revenue.

The perpetually beleaguered L.A. Times recently announced another 10 percent reduction of its editorial staff – 200 layoffs this time – and last week at The Newark Star-Ledger, 151 people in a newsroom of about 330 took buyout deals. Some have already begun to flee the nation’s 15th-largest newspaper.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:
The good news for The Star-Ledger is that it still exists - seriously, the paper almost went under this month.

And, of course, magazines are also going under the knife. This week, Time Inc. announced it’s cutting six percent of its workforce, about 600 people, and The New York Observer reported Thursday that ritzy Conde Nast glossies like The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, Glamour, Vogue and GQ must cut five percent from both their editorial and their business sides.
BOB GARFIELD:
And if you still do have a job at a media organization, the party’s over – literally. ABC News President David Westin told staff in a memo this week that in order to save money, holiday parties this year are canceled, along with magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Westin advised staffers to read those online, now the only place to find The Christian Science Monitor but, unfortunately for ABC, not for free.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:
One final media casualty – Radar Magazine, whose tagline is “Pop culture for smart people,” folded last week. Its website remains, but now the focus will be on celebrities, with no place for political stories or political reporters. That’s how Radar reporter Ana Marie Cox found herself with a press pass and a seat on the McCain plane, but no money to cover the cost of covering the candidate. Cox does blog for Time Magazine, but it had its own reporters on the trail, and The Washington Independent chipped in only a small portion of her fare.

So Cox took a route all too familiar to us, and you. She launched a personal pledge drive on her blog. She asked readers to donate money to get her through the last week of the campaign, and she’s even offering pledge premiums.

We reached her Wednesday on a Palin press van on route to Kentucky. The VP candidate, Cox explained, was making a Halloweeny campaign stop.
ANA MARIE COX:
Palin just is visiting a pumpkin patch right now. There are pumpkins that are apparently a dollar off today.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:
Explain now the pledge levels and the pledge prizes. This is a public radio audience, so you probably don't have to start from scratch.
ANA MARIE COX:
[LAUGHS] They totally know what I'm talking about. [BROOKE LAUGHS] Well, 10 dollars would give you a thank-you email, 250 dollars would offer the opportunity for someone to provide a question for me to ask the senior McCain advisor, and then I would record my asking the question and the answer to it and send it to them as an MP3 file. For 1,000 dollars I would have a post-election dinner debriefing.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:
People have pledged over 8,000 dollars? Most of those are in small pledges?
ANA MARIE COX:
That’s true. It is still probably not quite enough to really cover the entire thing through Election Day. But I'm keeping track of my expenses on my blog, as well, and letting people know, sort of, where the money’s going.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:
And how many dinners will you be having with donors, and who’s going to pay for it?
ANA MARIE COX:
So far there are two dinners that I will be having. But I was hoping maybe they would let my husband cook it.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:
[LAUGHS] Do you think you’re feeling some pressure to do an even better job because you've been in touch with these people who are willing to shell out directly to keep you on that plane and on that van?
ANA MARIE COX:
I am so grateful and amazed and humbled that people are helping me out at all, and so I feel much more pressure to provide good customer service than I have at any of the publications [LAUGHS] that I've worked for. And in some ways it’s an ideal situation for the typical antisocial blogger. There’s no office politics, there’s no resentments of any kind, of anyone.
But I have to also say that I could not do this, you know, full time, if only because I've written so many thank you notes that my fingers are getting a little tired.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:
I wonder if the McCain campaign is aware of your project and if they've had any reaction?
ANA MARIE COX:
They're aware of my project because they are amused by it.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:
So far no one has asked you to ask a question of any McCain or Palin campaign staffers. I guess that’s good in a way because what if they ask you to ask McCain if he wears briefs or boxers?
ANA MARIE COX:
You know, people would ask McCain far stupider questions. I did an interview on network television today where someone asked me if Sarah Palin was still wearing her expensive clothes or if she’s started wearing her regular clothes. And I had to answer that, you know, it’s not the first question I would ask Sarah Palin these days. I mean, if that’s the first question that occurs to a major media reporter to ask Sarah Palin, maybe a reader would come up with something better.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:
Ana Marie Cox is a Wonkette Emerita, a blogger for Time Magazine and a political reporter for her own blog, Anamariecox.typepad.com, which we will link to from our site, Onthemedia.org. Thanks again.
ANA MARIE COX:
All right, thank you.