The Costs of Record-Breaking Journalism

CVS stuff!

When your most prominent product makes your business “essential” and no one’s bullying you into refusing to sell non-essentials.

I’m generally happy to pay for journalism. I believe a free and fully functional press is a critical component to the structural integrity and ethics of any given country, state, and city. Local journalists in particular can cover topics too far below the radar of the numerous nationwide organizations out there. As a staunch anti-partisan who thinks extremely little of our feud-fueled political system, I don’t need to agree with every journalist’s tribal allegiance as long as I can discern either some capital-N News or some genuinely informed insights in their offerings. It helps that I tend to skim past the Opinions section and refuse to read the letters from readers unless they’re from someone I recognize, which so far this century has happened once (congrats to one of my wife’s cousins for that feat).

I’m old-fashioned enough to have a subscription to our local daily paper, the Indianapolis Star. A traditional seven-day subscription seemed a bit much, so I have a scaled-back subscription that requires one of their few remaining physical carriers to deliver a print-edition paper to our mailbox only on Sundays and Thursdays. Over the years the Thursday paper has turned slimline and provides me five minutes of preoccupation at most, but the Sunday paper remains their heftiest, with expanded content such as longform investigative pieces, restaurant news/reviews, faith-related essays, the starving remnants of the once-useful classifieds, retailer advertising inserts, grocery coupons, and four pages of Sunday comic strips in color. Longtime MCC readers can guess which section gets sorted to the top of my reading pile.

The Star shocked me three times this past weekend. Under the terms of the interim normal, two of those shocks were sorrowful but explainable. The third is debatable.

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My Former Life as a Kickstarter Junkie

Kickstarter sampler

Top to bottom: Ashes (art by Richard Pace); Jamal Igle’s Molly Danger; Neil DeGrasse Tyson, interviewee from Fight for Space; and Great Pacific (art by Martin Morazzo).

When Kickstarter was relatively new and not yet a household name, it took a while before I warmed up to the concept. Once I dipped my toe into the pool, I had a hard time convincing myself to come up for air.

I loved the idea of artists, writer, musicians, inventors, designers, and other makers of stuff bypassing the corporate processes that normally rule their respective fields and obtaining the necessary funding to self-publish, self-release, or otherwise bring their works to life through the magic of crowdfunding, which in most cases works a lot like pre-ordering an item except you’re also adding a generous tip.

At the end of 2012 I drew a line because I realized I’d gone overboard. I have disposable income set aside each month for doing fun things such as comics and movies, but Kickstarter was devouring more than its fair share and compromising my hobbies. With my son preparing to start college this coming fall, the time has come to batten down the hatches, tighten the belts, and find ways to slash our budget, unless some wealthy benefactor wants to start donating enormous sums in care of this humble blog.

Consequently, one of the first extravagances on the chopping block was my Kickstarter patronage. I like philanthropy. I like helping creators create. I like watching success stories in action. But other priorities have come a-callin’. My last pledge was in December 2012 (a Bob Mould tribute concert film); I can’t swear it’ll be my final use of the site, but any future contributions will have to be severely limited, judiciously selected, frugally committed, and wildly recompensed with endless freebies.

Thus I bid farewell-for-now to my active Kickstarter status with a look back at our history together thus far. The following are past campaigns about which I’ve posted here previously, with updates about their subsequent progress:

* Rich Burlew’s phenomenal Order of the Stick reprint drive. A year after the fact, Burlew is still working hard to fulfill the remaining supporter perks that were delayed due to a severe hand injury. I’ve already received everything I was expecting and then some. (The OotS notepad used for a previous MCC entry was made possible by Kickstarter.)

* The Fight for Space documentary, about mankind’s retreat from the stars. Project mastermind Paul Hildebrandt wisely set a distant but realistic delivery date of December 2013; as of January 2013 his team was still conducting interviews with relevant parties in Washington D.C., making the most of their surplus funding.

* Jamal Igle’s Molly Danger graphic novel. Counting down to the release date later this year, Igle has provided backers with frequent updates and exclusive preview materials, including a heads-up that an eleven-page preview that will appear in Action Lab’s Free Comic Book Day 2013 sampler.

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