As media outlets continue struggling with the bad economy, City Pages has cut back on its online budget allocated for food and music blogging, after bumping up those budgets in January, editor Kevin Hoffman confirms. As he told me early this month, food blogging is one of the areas he hopes to build traffic, yet it’s one area that took a hit “when the economy soured.” While both areas are seeing cuts, he says online food and music have seen a net gain in funding over the past year.
One City Pages writer to feel the budget axe is James Norton, who until his late-December layoff, served as the paper’s under-$20-per-meal restaurant reviewer. Tuesday morning, Norton’s next move was unveiled: He’s launched The Heavy Table, a foodie site covering all things edible and imbibable in the upper Midwest.
“Our mandate is broad,” Norton writes in an email. “We’ll have articles of interest to the home cook, to the restaurant diner, and to the food enthusiast who cares to know the story of how his or her dinner got to the plate. We appeal to those who are looking for what’s in season, what’s local, what’s heirloom and what’s new.”
While the funding situation’s gotta be tough, Norton, a veritable jack of all media, has diverse enough experience to give it a good shot. The former Middle East editor for the Christian Science Monitor, co-creator of Flak Radio, and former producer for Al Franken’s radio show, he’s written on food for Chow.com, Minnesota Monthly, Saveur, Salon and others. He’s also the author of the forthcoming book “The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin.”
Two other local sites are testing out new funding models for online content. Based on the popularity of his recent posts at The Deets about online practices by City Pages and its parent Village Voice Media, tech blogger Ed Kohler is asking readers to ante up if they want him to publish his next piece on the Minneapolis altweekly this Thursday. By noon, he said he’s raised $26 dollars toward publishing the piece. His goal is $50, but he says he’s raised more than $26 because some contributors are donating so he doesn’t publish. He credits consultant Jeffrey McManus for his inspiration for the microfinancing idea.
Since City Pages seems to be the connective tissue here:
Mediation, voted best local blog of 2008 by the altweekly, is trying out an inventive funding model: content partnerships. “Instead of just posting ads that interrupt the normal flow,” writes Taylor Carik, “I’ve approached some folks who are doing cool things in the Twin Cities, and I’m helping them create web content for this here blog that might be something you’d like to check out. In return, they’re hooking me up with something.” First to take part: Uptown Minneapolis’ handmade fashion and jewelry hub Design Collective.