Freelance journalist David Axe is leaving for West Africa soon to report on the humanitarian diplomacy / soft-power mission of the USS Nashville. If the USS Kearsarge is any evidence, David will likely be the only reporter (or blogger) doing sustained reporting onboard the Nashville (as opposed to most reporters that will pop in and out for a quick story). He is asking for donations to help fund his trip:
Increasingly, my reporting is reader-funded. With the accelerating decline of traditional print media, this “crowdfunding” model for specialist journalism might become the rule rather than the exception. My readers donated $1,500 to send me to Chad last summer and another $1,000 to support me while working in Kenya in December. You also gave $170 to help out Mohamed Omar Hussein, my associate and source in Mogadishu. So far, you’ve donated $900 to send me to Nigeria, and for that, I am extremely grateful.
That $900 goes a long way towards covering the approximately $5,000 I will spend on this enterprise. It’s still a money-losing venture for me — my assignments so far are worth just $2,000 — but every dollar donated reduces my risk. Hopefully I’ll eventually get enough assignments to break even.
David and I shared a suite on the USS Kearsarge. Here are a few things you should know about David if you are considering donating.
First, David has the worst financial strategy towards earning a living I have ever seen. David fronts the cost for his trips out of his pocket, on the hope of breaking even from paid reporting jobs later on. He certainly does not do these trips for the money (he could earn more at Burger King). I’d bet his career in journalism probably has cost him money overall, but he does not care. David has a fanatical passion for getting the story out.
Second, David’s loyalty is to the story, and nothing else. He certainly is not a military-fanboy. On the Kearsarge, David used every angle, method, and source to get the story. He was aggressive in getting what he needed to put out an unbiased story.
Third, David has a history of writing about the relationship between the military and global health. The photo above is David doing a video tour of the USS Kearsarge’s massive hospital deck. Furthermore, David has agreed to do some reporting on the health aspects of the mission specifically for readers of this blog.
Christopher R. Albon is a political science Ph.D. specializing in armed conflict, public health, human security, and health diplomacy.