[EDITOR'S NOTE: We're highlighting a few of the entries in this year's Knight News Challenge, which just closed Tuesday night. Did you know of an entry worth looking at? Email Mac or leave a brief comment on this post. —Josh]
You may have already heard of The Journalism Shop, the assemblage of ex-Los Angeles Times staffers that has evolved into an editorial matchmaking service. (Its survey of ex-LATers detailing their predictions for the paper’s failure got some notice from Romenesko a couple weeks ago.)
It’s an online co-op where former Times reporters, editors, and designers can hang a freelance shingle and land jobs. The site, which evolved out of an email list for laid-off staffers, currently has around 30 members. And it’s throwing its hat into the ring for a Knight News Challenge grant. According to their application, they hope to build:
— a national network of regional reporters/editors/researchers/graphic artists who will create original work on spec, to be placed by The Journalism Shop editors.
— acting as an assigning conduit for editors looking for freelancers (a modern version of the old photo agency structure, but for writers and editors).
— a “pitching engine” to solicit assignments for our members.
— pursuing grants for topic specific journalism.
— building out the existing website to publish those stories (we’re working on some ideas for that now.
Scott Martelle, one of the co-founders and a former Times reporter himself, said The Journalism Shop helps assignment editors quickly find and tap experienced journalists for coverage. And since all of The Journalism Shop’s members are former LAT staffers, they have a built-in credibility with editors that not all freelancers can boast.
“There’s very little going on out there that tries to keep experienced journalists in the profession,” Martelle said. “We’re trying to keep people alive until the Big Bang ends and the solar systems begin to coalesce again.”
As you can see from the Shop’s Facebook page, work doesn’t always originate from traditional news organizations. The boundaries have expanded to include things like alumni magazines, annual reports, consulting, book work, and the like.
A News Challenge grant would allow Martelle and co-founder Brett Levy to dedicate more time to the project. Specifically, they want to build out the infrastructure and create additional opportunities for their stable of writers through outreach and advertising. Martelle said the model could also be extended to other locales.