Thursday, February 22, 2018

Houston journalist realizes connection to Parkland victim while covering the story

KPRC 2 photojournalist Gil Gredinger had to cover the horrific Parkland, Florida shooting and then deal with the fact he's originally from the area and has ties to victim

Gil Gredinger's Twitter bio photo taken at the implosion of Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia when he worked in that market.

We have heard many horror stories from last week's Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 lost their lives.

The story became personal for one Houston television journalist covering the news from the scene.

On that Valentine's Day, KPRC 2 photographer Gil Gredinger's day was about to be altered from the daily routine of covering Houston news.

As I wrote last week, former channel 2 reporter Jennifer Bauer, who recently moved to the area of the shooting, was re-hired on a freelance basis to the cover the breaking news for Houston NBC affiliate.

Gredinger jumped on a plane to join her.

The longtime Houston photographer happens to be from Hollywood, Florida. Both Hollywood and Parkland are located in Broward County. He describes the area as a tight-knit community.

Upon arriving at the scene ready to start capturing images with his camera, Gredinger realized his professional and personal worlds were beginning to collide.

"I knew three parents who had kids at that school," Gredinger told mikemcguff.com.


One of those kids was Alex Schachter, 14. After getting the proper confirmation, Gredinger was the first, or one of the first, to tweet about Alex's death. That tweet apparently led Gredinger to be mistakenly listed as Alex's former march band instructor in news coverage.

"I went to high school with his father," Gredinger tweeted. "He died yesterday. My heart breaks for his family. I have no words."

Alex's father, Max, recently recited a poem at a CNN town hall his son composed weeks before his death.

"I was hoping no one I knew there had kids that were injured," Gredinger told me. "I wanted to stop working, but I knew I had a job to do."

It turns out the children of Gredinger's other two friends escaped the school shooting.

People in the media learn to suppress their feelings when covering horrible stories. That is why they are sometimes criticized for being cold and uncaring. It is how they survive working in an industry, when at a moment's notice, they witness the worst about humanity or nature.

Gredinger said that keeping his feelings in check became more and more difficult with this story.

"It was like a race horse, you put on the blinders and just go," he recalled. "When I went back to the hotel that night, that's when it hit me."

By Friday, Gredinger was back on a plane to Houston with haunting memories and emotions in tow as the nation must now mourn and deal with this tragedy, past and future ones.

I should note that the Houston TV stations were already in Florida covering the Astros Spring Training in West Palm Beach. Many of our sports reporters were moved to cover the tragedy until other crews could arrive.

Gredinger told me that because so many teams have Spring Training in Florida, stations from across the country had crews in the area, and were quickly diverted to the scene of the shooting.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Rebecca Spera shows off baby #2


Last September, abc13 KTRK afternoon traffic anchor Rebecca Spera announced a baby brother for her son Gray.

Well, today we get word that the unnamed child is here!

"Welcome to the world, Baby Boy #2," Spera posted on Facebook. "We love you, even though nine months wasn't enough time to come up with a name for you (we're working on it!)!"

Send her some name ideas.

In the comments section of the Facebook post, complete with lovely family photos with the little one, Spera responded to a commenter who said her son's were named Dean, Garrett, Jackson and Cash.

"One of your names is our number one choice," Spera replied.  "We are practicing a few different names on him."

Ahh...so we can narrow it down from there.

Stay tuned.

First born Gray came into the world in January of 2016.




Monday, February 19, 2018

New Texas TEGNA graphics rolling out



Some of my readers are way better at tracking this kind of thing than I am, but TENGA is rolling out new graphics across its stations throughout Texas.

Here is a look at the new graphics for KENS 5 San Antonio and KVUE Austin.




Only time will tell when we'll see the new look at the likes of KHOU Houston and WFAA Dallas-Fort Worth.

A quick look at the internet says these new graphics started popping up at TEGNA stations outside of Texas near the end of last year.

(Thanks Eric!)



Houston TV reporter does weather and pulls it off!


Sunday night, FOX 26 KRIV reporter Stephen Morgan stayed in the studio and did his job in front of the green screen.

That's right, a reporter filled-in as the meteorologist.

I don't think in 13 years of writing this blog, I've written a post about this happening!

"Left the reporter hat at home because tonight I’m Houston’s meteorologist," Morgan posted on Facebook.

Turns out that Morgan actually has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Meteorology from Saint Louis University so he could technically go get a job in weather outside of television news.

Not every Houston TV met could do that.

"Finally putting that college degree to work," he posted. "First Houston forecast is in the books! (now let's see if it's right)..."

Maybe we will see more of Morgan's forecasting work. In the meantime, it looks like meteorologist John Dawson took the weekend off.

These days, being a jack of all trades in the TV biz sounds like a smart plan.

So how did Morgan do? As Warner Wolf says, "Let's go to the videotape!"




Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fmr. Houston reporter returns to report from tragic high school shooting

Former KPRC 2 reporter Jennifer Bauer reports from scene of horrible Florida high school shooting


First of all, my thoughts and prayers go to the victims and all those affected by the terrible Florida high school shootings Wednesday.

When will these school shootings end?

That tragic event brought people to this blog who were looking up information on a former Houston reporter who was live near the scene in Parkland, Florida.

KPRC 2 had immediate reports, because the NBC affiliate's former reporter, Jennifer Bauer, happens to live near the area as the anchors explained on air. The station had their former reporter perform live reports for the evening newscasts.

RELATED
How Jennifer Bauer's photographer learned he knew a Parkland shooting victim

"When the shooting happened, my old boss at KPRC called to see if I could help them out and report for a few days," Bauer told mikemcguff.com. "I was happy to, but wish it were under different circumstances."

When asked on Twitter how she had a KPRC mic flag, Bauer responded that a KPRC sports crew was in Florida covering the Houston Astros training camp and let her use their's.

"I haven’t stepped in front of a live camera since I left KPRC in June," Bauer told me. "I am working part time for a company that produces corporate videos, so occasionally I get in front of the camera to record pieces for them. I’ve been enjoying time at home with my two kids and getting to know my new community of Parkland."

Bauer and her husband, former KPRC creative services director Mike Guerrieri, left Houston for Miami last summer.

Guerrieri landed a gig at NBC 6 WTVJ as Vice President of Creative Services for the station.

Bauer joined channel 2 as a reporter in 2010 from Jacksonville as a reporter at KPRC's sister station WJXT.

"I appreciate all the Facebook messages and posts from the Houston viewers I can almost feel the Texas-sized hugs and support from here. #PrayersForParkland," Bauer added.


*updated with info on mic flag and Bauer quotes



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

John Clay Wolfe celebrates 1,000th show at ESPN 97.5 FM

Houston-area fans salute syndicated broadcaster’s milestone

Photo credit: Theresa DiMenno

(Ft. Worth, Texas/February 11, 2018) Fans of John Clay Wolfe, whose weekly radio show airs Saturday mornings on terrestrial stations in 20 US markets, rallied in Houston on Saturday (2/10) to celebrate Wolfe’s 1,000th radio broadcast. Following a live show originating from the studios of Houston affiliate ESPN 97.5 FM, listeners welcomed Wolfe and his broadcast teammates JD Ryan and character voice master Bobby Brown (Bobbo) for a party staged in the Gow Media complex.

“If we could do this in every market that hears us, we’d do it in a minute”, said Wolfe. “A four hour broadcast, handshakes and photos with 300 listeners, hundreds of free t-shirts, and I don’t know how many cases of Miller Lite. I’d call that a pretty good Saturday!”

Wolfe, whose broadcast career began in 2006 and has run concurrently with the growth of his wildly successful Amazon.com-style wholesale auto business, caught radio fever while listening to Stevens and Pruett (later of KLOL) in Dallas during the 80’s. Today, his weekly broadcasts infuse edgy, topical, observational humor with recurring characters as Wolfe takes calls from listeners wishing to sell him their cars before they submit to dealer trade-in practices. Supported by his proprietary GiveMeTheVin.com online bidding system, Wolfe accurately calculates then communicates his offer to car owners—live—while listeners experience the on air exchange vicariously.

“People who haven’t heard the show, don’t get it, “Wolfe observes. “A guy who buys cars on the radio, with visits by Tony Romo’s dad, Satan, and a chipmunk named Randy, between music breaks orchestrated by our local affiliates? Sounds like shooting a Fellini movie at a swap meet after a Skynyrd concert. But that’s our show.”

Hear past episodes of the John Clay Wolfe Show here http://givemethevin.podbean.com/

See affiliate list here https://www.johnclaywolfe.com/stations.php Direct syndication inquires to DougH@CreativeAnimal.com.

ABOUT JOHN CLAY WOLFE AND GIVE ME THE VIN.COM

The life of native Texan John Clay Wolfe will someday make a great movie, but more than likely not as an after school special on The Lifetime Channel. He has survived a near-fatal motocross crash that left him paralyzed, the embezzlement of millions by an employee, a bitter divorce, and a start and stop broadcast career. A lesser man would have neither endured nor recovered. Today, after years of surgery and physical therapy, dozens of astute business moves, and a defiant return to the airwaves, John Clay Wolfe has regained his physical and entrepreneurial footing. He is the founder and CEO of one of the largest automotive wholesaling operations in the US, regularly setting then breaking his own Manheim auction records. The John Clay Wolfe radio show is broadcast weekly to hundreds of thousands of US radio listeners and his network of affiliates is growing every week. The avid sports fan and licensed pilot is happily married to Danish beauty Jeanette and the two make their home in the Fort Worth area with their four children.

(This post taken from a release sent to me by Noisemaker Communications)



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

FOX Sports SW to televise Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo


FOX Sports Southwest will once again televise the world-renowned Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this year with a comprehensive schedule of RODEOHOUSTON programming, including live coverage of the RODEOHOUSTON Super Series and the RODEOHOUSTON Super Shootout®: North America’s Champions, preview specials, rodeo athlete profiles and nightly recaps.

RODEOHOUSTON 2018 will be held Feb. 27 – March 18 at NRG Stadium. FOX Sports Southwest’s coverage spans all 20 days of the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo, including live streaming of each night’s rodeo competition on FOX Sports GO (FOXSportsGO.com).

Additionally, a 15-minute nightly recap show will be televised on FOX Sports Southwest and posted on FOXSportsSouthwest.com throughout the competition. The nightly updates will be televised at 10:00 p.m. CT or following the network’s live event programming.

Leading up to the Rodeo, FOX Sports Southwest will televise a 30-minute RODEOHOUSTON Preview Special, as well as a Meet the Cowboys special, hosted by FOX Sports Southwest’s Patti Smith and four-time PRCA Announcer of the Year Boyd Polhamus, profiling some of this year’s competitors. Both specials will be replayed several times prior to the Rodeo.

FOX Sports Southwest will provide live television coverage March 14-18 of the RODEOHOUSTON Super Series Semifinals, Wild Card and Championship rounds, and the RODEOHOUSTON Super Shootout featuring champions from the top eight rodeos in North America.

Hall of Fame announcer Bob Tallman, along with Polhamus and Andy Seiler will anchor FOX Sports Southwest’s coverage. Nightly recaps will be hosted by Smith, with highlights of each performance from Tallman and Polhamus.

FOX Sports Southwest, which reaches more than 10 million homes in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, has been the television home of RODEOHOUSTON since 2009.

FOX SPORTS SOUTHWEST 2018 RODEOHOUSTON TV SCHEDULE

(All times listed are Central. Schedule subject to change.)

March 14 7:00 p.m. RODEOHOUSTON Super Series Semifinal 1
March 15 7:00 p.m. RODEOHOUSTON Super Series Semifinal 2
March 16 7:00 p.m. RODEOHOUSTON Super Series Wild Card
March 17 4:00 p.m. RODEOHOUSTON Super Series Championship
March 18 4:00 p.m. RODEOHOUSTON Super Shootout: North America’s Champions

RODEOHOUSTON Preview Special: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 9:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Feb. 14, 9:00 p.m.; Thursday, Feb. 15, 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 18, 6:00 p.m.; Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2:00 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 24, 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 25, 9:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Feb. 27, 6:00 p.m.

RODEOHOUSTON: Meet the Cowboys: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 9:00 p.m.; Wednesday, Feb. 14, 8:30 p.m.; Thursday, Feb. 15, 10:00 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 18, 10:00 p.m.; Tuesday, Feb. 20, 3:30 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 23, 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 24, 9:00 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 25, 9:00 p.m.; Tuesday, Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m.

(This post taken from a release sent to me by FOX Sports Southwest)



Monday, February 12, 2018

Jessica Borg joins KHOU 11

WCBS New York reporter Jessica Borg joins KHOU 11


Just because it is February sweeps doesn't mean the Houston TV stations aren't bringing in new talent.

Earlier, I posted how Maria Salazar joined FOX 26 KRIV.

That prompted reader Taylor to notify me that KHOU posted a new talent bio on its new website.

Jessica Borg comes from New York's WCBS where she was a freelance reporter for the last year according to her LinkedIn. Before that she was a reporter/fill-in anchor for cable outlet News 12 Long Island.

"I feel privileged to tell people’s stories for a living," she wrote on her new bio. "Everyone has a unique story and a voice that should be heard. I enjoy exploring communities and think it’s neat that no 2 days on the job are ever the same."

According to her bio, Borg even got a daytime TV appearance. While reporting on a behind-the-scenes story, Borg landed a guest role on the long-running CBS soap opera, As the World Turns. A rare opportunity for any reporter outside of New York or LA, that's for sure.

From 2004 to 2008 she was an anchor and reporter at WPVI Philadelphia. She was also an anchor and reporter for KDKA Pittsburgh.

Borg graduated from New York University magna cum laude with High Honors and holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Iona College, where she earned the Edward J. Lovas Journalism Award.

See Borg's resume reels here.



Maria Salazar joins FOX 26 KRIV

WFMZ 69 News Lehigh Valley, PA reporter Maria Salazar joins FOX 26 as a general assignment reporter


Maria Salazar has joined FOX 26 as a general assignment reporter, announced station Vice President and News Director, Susan Schiller.

Effective February 12th, Salazar will report on various newscasts.

In making the announcement, Schiller stated, “Maria is a compelling and compassionate storyteller who will help to find the answers and solutions that our viewers need.”

Most recently, Salazar served as a reporter for WFMZ 69 News in Lehigh Valley, PA. Prior to that, she was a reporter and producer at WKTB Telemundo Atlanta. Previously, she held the position of client engagement specialist and on-air talent at WUVM 4 Azteca Atlanta.

A graduate of Georgia State University, Salazar holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Policy and a Master of Science degree in Social Foundations of Education.

Salazar added, "I look forward to becoming a Houstonian and serving our community, sharing in the lives of our viewers and having the privilege to tell their stories.”

KRIV is part of the FOX Television Stations, one of the nation's largest owned-and-operated network broadcast groups, comprising 28 stations in 17 markets and covering over 37% of U.S. television homes. This includes seven duopolies in the top 10 markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Houston; as well as duopolies in Minneapolis, Phoenix, Orlando and Charlotte.


(This post taken from a release sent to me by FOX Television Stations)



Houston journalists go independent, talk finances and paywalls

Houston TV journalists strike out on their own, and open up to mikemcguff.com about making money, including turning on a paywall


A typical day for Covering Katy founder Dennis Spellman starts at 4am.

With coffee in hand, Spellman reviews overnight stringer video feeds, incoming messages from readers and all of the local news sources.

"If it happened overnight in Katy, my goal is to have it posted when people wake up," Spellman told mikemcguff.com

After hours of the morning news rush and his cups of joe, Spellman then heads into the office just off the Grand Parkway and the Katy Freeway.

As the president of an independent news site covering an entire city's news, Spellman must wear many hats. Part of his day can be spent in a networking meeting, on a sales call, or in a strategy session with a vendor. Or he could be out reporting from a Katy ISD Board of Trustees meeting to a breaking news event.

"I bring my gear and my laptop and post from the scene," he told me.

That was apparent during Hurricane Harvey last summer. From on the scene reports from a road rage homicide in Cinco Ranch, to a downpour at Barker Dam and Highway 6, to homeowners being evacuated, Spellman saw and reported it all.


"I was out in the field when possible, but information was coming in so quickly on my computer, that the best use of my time was being at my desk," Spellman recalled. "Still, in field reports were needed so I posted enough videos from the field that several people remarked that it seemed like I was everywhere. Facebook live has helped in that area."

Spellman has been a journalist since starting out at WCSH-TV Portland, Maine in the early 1990s.

He became a familiar face on CW 39 KIAH's newscast for nine years staring at the debut of its return to news in 2000.

In 2011, the same year he went to work for News 92 KROI, Spellman started Covering Katy.

"When I moved to Katy nine years ago it was clear that this community of 300,000 plus people had no news outlet that was aggressively covering the news," Spellman remembered. "We were loaded with magazines that were doing lots of fluff but no one, not even the newspaper of record, was covering news in any meaningful way."

After News 92 went off the air, Spellman decided to run the site full-time.

"At times I’ve had to reach into my own pocket to keep the lights on, but market forces are on my side," Spellman said. "When I started people would not advertise because I did not have a print product. Now advertisers don’t even ask if we also have a print product."

Now Spellman might be covering Katy with gusto, but he still has to compete with the rest of the Houston media market from newspapers, TV, radio and online properties. An announcement at the end of Janurary 2018 signaled even giant players like Google want a piece of the local news game.

And that gets to why I am writing this entire post.

A few months ago, Spellman emailed me to let me know he was taking his site behind a paywall. That's right, instead of a free product with advertising, readers would have to subscribe and...gulp...pay to see the content. You know, just like people did in the pre-internet days.


HOW THE COVERING KATY PAYWALL WORKS

Readers get four free stories every 30 days, but to have complete unfettered access they will need to pay $5.95 per month, or they can choose an annual plan where they get one month for free. The annual price come out to $1.25 per week.

"The same cost for my local newspaper when I was a delivery boy in 1979," Spellman said.



It's an idea that is actually catching on in the journalism world. The Houston Chronicle as a free site chron.com and then the pay-wall subscriber site with the news you'll find in the newspaper at HoustonChronicle.com.

This new "revolutionary" idea of paying for news even caught the attention of the New York Times in early February. In fact, reports say the "Old Gray Lady's" paywall is working well for the venerable newspaper.

"During the dark days I told my readers that I was shutting down and many wrote back and said they’d be willing to pay a subscription to keep [Covering Katy] in business," Spellman said.

That's when Spellman found LION.

 The Local Independent Online News Publishers' mission is to, "foster the viability and excellence of locally focused independent online news organizations and cultivate their connections to their communities through education and action."

So now independent journalists have a place to meetup and chat about what's working and what's not.

LION Publishers Executive Director Matt DeRienzo told me these independent newsrooms face a lot of new challenges compared to working in the corporate media world.

"Many are run by journalists who are learning how to be small business owners, and have to get used to the idea of spending a lot of their time thinking about the revenue side, which is not their first love or comfort zone," DeRienzo told mikemcguff.com. "And local independent online news organizations don't have the same kind of access to lawyers, insurance, human resources departments and IT staff that big media companies do."

Out of the nearly 200 LION Publishers members, DeRienzo tells me ten are based in Texas.

"Local independent online news organizations have a tremendous advantage in that they are run by people who live in, care about and are invested in the communities they cover," DeRienzo said. "This makes for better journalism that's more in tune with readers, and it makes for better customer service when it comes to local advertising and related services.

"They do face some of the same challenges as the rest of the industry. Facebook and Google are sucking up a huge percentage of advertising revenue, and digital ad tech has depressed what publishers can charge."

Both local non-profit and for-profit sites call themselves LION members. DeRienzo would argue even the for-profit sites come from an altruistic perspective. He believes as mainstream media reporting and editing jobs are cut across the country, it's going to take grassroots journalists to fill the gaps.

"What they do is a crucial public service, and readers are grateful for it and willing to contribute, especially when publishers explain a little bit about the resources required to provide this service and how the business model works," he added.

Over the last year, DeRienzo says the idea for direct support from readers to supplement advertising and other revenue streams has taken root in most of the LION members' minds.

"It's what some would call a paywall requiring a subscription to view stories after a certain number each month, and for others, it's more of a voluntary membership or statement of support for what the news organization is doing," DeRienzo said. "A number of sites have had voluntary paid membership programs for years, but are getting more serious about developing that as a revenue category now."


TEXAS LION MEMBERS


Marisa Trevino Latina Lista
Ashley Fisher Austin Monitor
Ken Martin The Austin Bulldog
Charlotte-Anne Lucas NowCastSA
Nelson Thibodeaux Local News Only
Field Walsh TXK Today
Tasneem Raja The Tyler Loop
Dennis Spellman Covering Katy
Colton Sanders Paris Free Press
Joe Hyde San Angelo Live



i45NOW


i45NOW is another independent news operation in the Houston area.

It serves the Clear Lake (where the NASA Johnson Space Center is located) and surrounding areas focusing on breaking news, traffic, weather and community happenings with a TV approach to coverage.

Executive Editor T.J. Aulds agrees there is a need for hyper-local journalists.

"The audience is still starved for information but they want information on the everyday things in their lives," Aulds explained to mikemcguff.com. "Will I make it to work today on time or will traffic hold me up? Why are there so many police cars in my neighborhood? How bad is the flooding in my neighborhood, my friend’s neighborhood? What’s the new business being built on Highway 3?"

The operation had a soft launch in 2015 and became fully operational in April of 2017.

"Now, while we want to make huge amounts of money, we designed the platform to build an audience first," Aulds added. "That shows sponsors that our platform can deliver and in many ways they come to us or are at least very familiar with us and understand what we are doing before we ask for money."

Aulds first thought of the idea of i45NOW (then known as Galveston Bay Now) while working at KHOU 11 during Hurricane Ike in 2008. He believes the audience doesn't want to come to a site for news and information, but wants that information to come to them on whatever platform they were most comfortable.

For now, i45Now is a Facebook-centric news operation.

However Aulds' opinion differs when it comes to paywalls.

"i45NOW was specifically designed and its business plan created to avoid going to a paywall," he said. "In fact our tag line is, 'It’s your news, why pay for it?'"

Aulds says i45NOW's revenue stream is broken down into three categories:

1. Sponsorships that are done in a "native" advertising format. These are not traditional display ads etc., but a story on the client with a clearly marked SPONSORED CONTENT label.

2. Selling Houston TV stations footage and information from news scenes that happen in the i45NOW coverage area. i45Now is just one of the "stringers" the Houston TV news departments hire to film and report stories from the field. Stringers shoot a lot of video for stations overnight and on the weekends.

3. A recently launched video production services arm. The company will produce in house or promotional videos for clients. The Houston TV stations also produce ad spots for clients. Many of the TV commercials airing in Houston now were created by the TV stations themselves.

"We are designed to rely on our other revenue streams to pay the bills," Aulds said. "That doesn’t mean I won’t ever consider some sort of added value program way in the future. But it would have to be an added value where you get more than what you get already for free But the paywall concept is not something in our plans. It’s been my experience that paywalls create a mistrust with a mass audience."

The Texas Monitor



Then there is the non-profit model that accepts donations from readers and major funders.

The Texas Monitor's tagline is, "Independent Journalism Defending the Public Trust."

The site, which has some names you will recognize from the now defunct Texas Watchdog writing for it, is about to celebrate its first year.

"I would argue we are the only news organization in Texas that looks solely at corruption, transparency issues, and questionable actions in government," editor Trent Seibert told mikemcguff.com. "Investigative and enterprise reporting is costly, but needed. Imagine a state or nation where there was no probing reporting or deep reporting. We would be back to having an army of Boss Tweeds running government."

Seibert, who previously worked for KTRK abc13, says the site has several big donors who are very interested in erasing public corruption. They want a spotlight put on elected officials who may not be doing the right thing in their opinion.

"These donors have given us free rein to look at any official in any party with neither fear nor favor," Seibert added. "And if you look at our work you can see we have done exactly that. If we can cut back on misdeeds and wrongdoing in government, that's what our donors want us to do."

These donors want anonymity because of the type of investigation the site conducts concerning wasteful spending and bureaucratic bungling.

"Our supporters generally don't want to be known and possibly targeted by the same officials we are reporting on," Seibert says. "I am sympathetic to that. That said, any donor who wanted to put strings on our reporting, I would show them the door."

The Future


As for Spellman, he has already received reader support for his new subscription based model.

He is expanding too.

In a deal with veteran journalist Jamie Mock, the two have opened Covering Fort Bend.

With a team of people to pay for like video freelancer Steve Ottesen (formerly of KNWS 51, KIAH 39, News 92 KROI) and writer George Slaughter, Spellman hopes his pioneering effort pays off.

"The paywall is not guaranteed to work but I believe it’s the only path forward for most local independent online news publishers," Spellman said. "I think that three years from now, people will be accustomed to paying for certain unique content like quality hyperlocal news. Right now many people are accustomed to getting everything for free.

"This gig didn’t come with an owners manual. We’re all figuring it out as we go along."