Funding Pagan Journalism One Event at a Time (Let’s Start With Chicago)

Funding Pagan Journalism One Event at a Time (Let’s Start With Chicago) March 21, 2012

We live in an unparalleled and historic time for the evolution and growth of Pagan-oriented media, and the development of journalism within our interconnected communities. In the span of a decade we’ve gone from counting notable self-identified Pagan journalists on one hand, to watching the evolution of a grass-roots Pagan newswire project, and the emergence of a vibrant and unprecedented interview culture thanks to podcasts and Internet radio. I’ve been truly blessed, through The Wild Hunt, to be a participant, booster, and  direct beneficiary of this phenomenon. I’ve been an ardent evangelizer for the power of new media within our community, and I’m always looking for new ways Pagan journalists and media professionals can do their work in a sustainable manner.

Over the years, I’ve often been asked if I can cover a certain event, or if I’ll be attending a festival or conference. While I wish the answer could always be “yes,” I’ve often been limited in what I could afford to do. While Patheos does pay me something for writing here, it amounts to hundreds of dollars per month, and (sadly) not the high end of “hundreds.” Simply put, I don’t even make minimum wage writing and reporting for the Pagan community on a daily basis.  I don’t say this to garner sympathy, but to just plainly state what the fiscal realities are of the current job I perform. Most of the events I cover in person have been possible because the organizers have covered my expenses, or else I sprung for the costs myself. Because of this, whenever an event is too far away, I usually can’t go, and instead hope that others will do first-hand accounts that I can build from.

So, starting today, I’m beginning a new experiment in “crowdfunding” Pagan journalism. I’m going to start launching small campaigns through Indiegogo to raise travel and living expenses for events that I feel are important for me to cover in person. If the event gets funded, then I go. If it doesn’t, I won’t. My first campaign is to raise funds for the American Academy of Religion’s 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago. The AAR is the world’s largest association of academics who research or teach topics related to religion, and their annual meeting has become a vital place to hear about the latest scholarship in the field of Pagan Studies (and just about every other religious and philosophical tradition as well). In 2011, my trip to the AAR’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco allowed me to share a talk by Starhawk on elemental theology, and explore Paganism’s solitary, eclectic, future. Not to mention the many connections and sources I was able to meet firsthand.

All of these campaigns will be relatively small-dollar in scope, usually 1-2 thousand dollars for each trip. The amount raised will only cover travel, food, and lodging. Any savings I make due to alternate living/eating/travel arrangements will be forwarded to the next campaign.  I will also take suggestions on events that I should cover and open the idea up to comment here at The Wild Hunt. Should I go to the Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle? Paganicon in Minnesota? What about an event in England? Make your voices heard, and if there’s enough demand, we’ll try to fund them one at a time. Ultimately, I would like to build this up and work towards funding a trip to the 2014 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Belgium.

See the campaign, and donate, here.

All trips that are successfully crowdfunded will come with expectations on what I will deliver. Daily reports, yes, but also exclusive audio interviews that I will make freely available for any Pagan media outlet to use, and groundwork for larger, more in depth, stories. Ideally, this project will not only give you more on-the-ground journalism at events that are important to us, but create a model for other Pagans to try as well. If I succeed, it means it can succeed for others like me. In the end, it will mean a richer, more robust, Pagan journalism. I hope you’ll join me in this quest, spread the word, donate what you can, and help me in continuing to push the barriers of Pagan media.

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17 responses to “Funding Pagan Journalism One Event at a Time (Let’s Start With Chicago)”

  1. Traditional journalism is dying a slow death from lack of funding.  If we want vibrant Pagan journalism we have to find a way to pay for it.  Maybe this is one way to do that. 

    I’m in.

  2. I hadn’t heard of indiegogo either, so thought that perhaps it was more geared towards non-physical projects, but reviewing it, it doesn’t seem to be much different in nature.  I do wonder at the reason for the lesser known site?

  3. So what about that paypal button on the side of the website here? Does that go towards other purposes then?


  4. I’m sure its late to raise travel money for this summer’s East Coast festival circuit, but to really have a whole picture of American Paganism (let alone world Paganism–one thing at a time, I guess, right?) you should probably be thinking of taking in a few of the largest/most significant of those.

    On my own bucket list for East Coast Paganism?  Rites of Spring, Stones Rising, and FreeSpirit.  Maybe not all in the same year… but they do merit coverage.

  5.  (I have often found it surprising how many regional differences there are in Pagan fests, music, and culture.  It’s good to do a certain amount of compare and contrast.)

  6. Gonna try to dig up some pennies to contribute, I think this is an excellent idea. Since you’re one of my every single day news stops, I should certainly do something to help out. 🙂

  7. Indiegogo allows one to use all the funds raised, whether or not the stated financial goal is met. Kickstarter only collects and disburses funds when the total goal is met. 

    For example, the recent Hexenfest used Indiegogo to try and raise $3000. They raised closer to $2000, but were still able to use those funds to put on a successful event. Had they gone with Kickstarter, they would not have gotten the help they needed.

  8. Actually, is there a list anywhere of all the Pagan-specific festivals in the United States? Or general religion festivals/conferences that would be of interest to Pagans? If not, it might be a good idea to get such a list started, if only so Jason (and other journalists, and other potential attendees) can start planning ahead. 🙂

  9. Excellent idea, and best of luck with it. I’d like to see a more critical approach to Pagan subjects at the AAR. It was my second time going, and I was in general appalled by the quality of work, and the lack of critique by Pagans present in the audiences and online. 

  10. As someone who has made a living as a freelance journalist for more than a decade, I think it’s very sad that you don’t even expect to get paid for your time. Why do people expect journalists to work for nothing? I hope you have a secure source of income outside this venture, and that it is a form of spare-time activism for you. If not, I think there is the ethical problem of your livelihood to consider.

  11. I often have to pay out of pocket when I travel and teach at Pagan festivals and events. I’m happy when I get gas money and a place to sleep. Sometimes I have to pay for gas and hotel. Occasionally I get paid to travel and teach above and beyond my costs.

    As I live in Chicago, and offer a lot of Pagan events and networking in Chicago and the surrounding Midwest, I can tell you this Jason; if you come into town, I can book you for some paid events. I’m not currently in a position where I can donate money toward this cause, but I can certainly help bring in money by having you teach some local workshops perhaps before and after the conference, if you might be interested. This offer is also open to any other nationally-recognized Pagans who may be coming into Chicago for the AAR conference.

    I certainly respect your work and would love to see you attend events like AAR and the PWR. I’m also excited to see funding models that begin to move away from capitalism. When I teach workshops and offer public rituals, I use the Reclaiming-inspired sliding scale with no one turned away for lack of funds. I don’t believe anyone should be turned away from education. At the same time, like many Pagan leaders and organizers out there, I’ve offered this and then been caught holding the bag on space rental and supply costs. So I hope to see the crowdfunding model continue to work as it holds a lot of promise.