Santa Fe Reporter editor Alexa Schirtzinger* was picked to receive a prestigious John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University for the 2013-14 academic year.
According to the Knight Fellowships’s website the fellowships, “champions innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership in journalism by helping the fellows pursue their ideas to improve the quality of news and information reaching the public.”
Schirtzinger will research how “To use the innovative strengths and contemporary challenges of the modern alternative weekly newspaper as a platform for exploring new revenue models in local journalism.”
She will leave the paper for her fellowship. Still, her heart is with alt-weeklies.
When NM Telegram called Schirtzinger Tuesday afternoon to speak to Schirtzinger, she joked, “My proposal is to save alt-weeklies.”
She believes that alt-weeklies have an advantage over newspapers in that they were always free and knew there was a way for the free model to work. Still, alt-weeklies have been facing troubles in selling ads and monetizing the online model that is increasingly necessary.
Schirtzinger says that among the advantages of alt-weeklies is that, “They’re community tastemakers.”
Through her proposal, she wants to see how to turn alt-weeklies into more than just newspapers and turn them into community entities — things that will be around for a long time and are able to pay journalists a fair pay.
“There’s always this sense that we’re always going to be poor,” Schirtzinger said about journalists. She has experienced firsthand not being able to give an employee a raise because there just isn’t enough money.
“It is a community service,” Schirtzinger said about journalism, “but you shouldn’t have to be a non-profit.”
*The Morning Word column that I write appears in the Santa Fe Reporter and I occasionally freelance for the paper.