Please Stop Asking…

Most of the politicians that have the email addresses of my Philadelphia Hall Monitor colleagues do so because we’ve interviewed them as JOURNALISTS. So, why am I getting so many funding requests?

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff

As a busy working journalist, I have a ritual.

Every morning, I get up, go to my laptop, open up my Gmail account, and see what responses I’ve gotten to the various emails I’ve sent.

In addition to talking with mentees — my favorite emails, by the way — I get links for Hall Monitor interviews, freelance assignments, edits for stories that I’ve already written and, of course, press releases.

It’s the folks that are sending me the press releases that I want to address in this column.

You see, most of the folks who are sending me press releases — many of them politicians — are also sending me something else that I’m REALLY tired of getting.

Funding requests.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that running for office is an expensive proposition. The race for Mayor in 2023 is probably going to cost $1 million minimum. I won’t even get into the money that both Democratic and Republican groups have thrown into the 2022 Senate race.

To raise that kind of money would require the mother or all fish fries, and I don’t know if there’s that many fish in the tri-state area. Even if you threw shrimp, clams, crabs, and mussels, that’s still not quite enough fish.

So, folks send funding requests. I’ve gotten a bunch of letters asking me to send donations to various campaigns ranging from John Fetterman’s senate campaign to some of the people running for mayor and council in 2023.

Let me help y’all out, election funders.

If you have my email address, or Larry McGlynn’s, or Lance Haver’s, chances are that you got it thanks to us appearing at your event as reporters. That means that you’ve appeared on our show, we’ve interviewed you, and we’ve engaged you journalistically.

Which means that under the ethics codes established by the Society of Professional Journalists, the organization that governs our industry, we can’t give you a campaign donation. While we can cover your fundraiser because that’s our job, we’re not going to end up on your campaign finance report because that’s not what we do here.

In other words, while journalism itself has changed a lot, the ethics connected to it haven’t. And there’s no way that we’re going to wind up with our credibility challenged because you want $5 a month from us.

But we don’t necessarily want you to throw our email addresses away.

You see, we want you to recognize them when we send you a request for an interview.

I bring this up because many of the same people asking me to send them money for their campaigns, something that they know I can’t do, don’t even bother responding to my requests for interviews. I’ve requested interviews with many of you more than once, and all I’ve gotten is a bunch of excuses for why you can’t make time in your schedule.

We get it. Because media is the most expensive part of any political campaign, coming to the media to get money to finance it probably makes some sort of weird sense.

But the only thing you’re getting from us is an interview. The end.

Whatever you’re able to give makes a huge difference to our journalism. We rely on reader contributions to keep doing this reporting.

Q: Why should you support Hall Monitor with a donation?

A: Because every dollar goes to accountability in government, our independent journalism, and sharing information to empower and put decision-making power in the hands of the people.

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