Another one bites the dust – this time it’s digital

The future of Dirck Halstead’s ‘The Digital Journalist’ is threatened, and the December issue looks to be the last for a while. I have quoted from this resource a number of times previously, usually finding at least one powerful, thought-provoking idea in each issue. Yes, last month’s editorial piece which decried the continued investment in print to the detriment of online should have alerted me to the level of desperation that these online journalists were feeling. But my heart sank nonetheless when I read the news. 

And therein is the issue at the heart of online: here’s a resource that I found invaluable. Yet it was a one-way relationship: I gleaned a great deal from the publication; it received no reimbursement from me. Now, in a last-ditch attempt to save the publication, Halstead is asking for donations. But how sustainable is this? Sitting here in South Africa, I am keen to support the future of this publication, but until PayPal allows my country into its fold, it won’t be very easy to act on the impulse to give. Perhaps I’ll do it once, but will I continue? 

And of course, if Halstead, an industry expert, can’t make it sustainable, what are the chances of others doing so? Very sad. And of course part of that sadness is the way in which this reinforces the notion that altruism doesn’t pay. The way it dashes the good old-fashioned belief that if we create a good product, it will find a market.  For I had often wondered how on earth Halstead made this work financially. I was intrigued as to what his business model was. Felt he must have some great secret. But alas, a lack thereof.

Here’s Halstead’s announcement: 
“As many of you on our mailing list know, The Digital Journalist has been online producing our monthly magazine, about visual journalism, for 12 years. During that time we have presented the memorable work of some of the greatest photojournalists in the world, while offering opportunities for publication to many new photographers. Our columns and reviews have taken a 360-degree look at the industry, and predicted much of the upheaval that has taken place as the media around us have been buffeted by the shifting winds of technology, and now, a crippling economic downturn.

We have also sponsored over 37 Platypus Workshops around the world, which have taught photojournalists how to cope with and adapt to these industry changes.

Unfortunately, our principal sponsor, Canon, whose market has also been impacted by these turbulent times, has decided they can no longer afford to provide their financial backing to The Digital Journalist. We are very grateful for the generous support they have given us over the years.

Even before Canon’s decision we were planning to reorganize. We are aware of how seriously a lot of our readers, who make their living from photojournalism, have been hit by the recession through the failures and cutbacks of countless publications, magazines and newspapers, as well as TV and cable. Our reorganization goal is not only to continue publishing The Digital Journalist, but to provide funding in order to send photographers out into the world to do their work, documenting the important stories that shape our lives and history.

Such an ambitious undertaking requires serious fundraising efforts on our part. So we are asking you, our loyal readers, numbering more than 10,000, to help us raise these funds. Effective immediately, we have set up a PayPal link on The Digital Journalist ( http://digitaljournalist.org/pledge.html ) and urgently ask for your pledges so that we can continue the work which will help us all. We have never solicited paid subscriptions, but these dire times call for dire measures. If you value The Digital Journalist, this is the time to step up and make a pledge. If enough people do, we may be able to keep The Digital Journalist — and video journalism — alive. Consider it as an investment in yourself, and the future.

Thank you all for your loyalty over the past years. We appreciate your continued support, and look forward to seeing you on the Web.

Sincerely,
Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher

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