Non-profit organisation The Save Journalism Project has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay laid-off reporters in the US to write about mass job losses in the media industry.

The Freelance Reporting Initiative will produce five stories from the campaign looking into the impact closing news titles has had on local communities and the effects of the continual digital growth of Facebook and Google on the industry.

John Stanton, co-founder of the Save Journalism Project and former national reporter for BuzzFeed News US, set up the project when he was made redundant in January 2019.

He explained that this initiative has two main goals: increase awareness on the topic of job cuts in the media, and provide a generous rate-of-pay to journalists who have been forced into freelancing.

Unlike some news organisations, which can pay as little as 25 cents (roughly 20p) a word for a story, the initiative will pay $2 a word (roughly £1.60).

"When I started in journalism around 20 years ago, I just got a job at a news outlet and that’s what I’ve done ever since. I’ve always had a salaried staff job and when I got laid off in January (2019), there weren’t staff jobs to be had,” Stanton explained.

"You can write a 1,000-word story and get paid $400 for it - you can’t crank out enough 1,000-word stories to make rent."

With a week left for the Kickstarter campaign, the initiative has raised over half of its target of $10,000.

Should the initiative reach target, there will be a formal application process to select recipients. Stanton welcomed applicants from minority and under-represented backgrounds to cover the impact in their specific communities.

Where the story will be published is not currently announced, but journalists will be free to pitch their pieces they produce to other publications.

At a time when calls are being made for publishers to adapt to the shift from an ad revenue-focused industry to a reader revenue-focused one, Stanton argues that news organisations should push back against the duopoly to regain control of advertising revenue.

“The reality is advertising has always been the backbone of our revenue generation. It’s one of the most potent forms of revenue generation for our industry and I think that our business leaders in this community need to step up and stop being squeamish about fighting with these guys," he concluded.

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