International Site Forces Reporters to Listen to Wingnuts Around the World

How in the world can you make an online news site full of foreign coverage profitable these days? With gimmicks! How would you like to speak to a real live reporter, on the telephone?

GlobalPost.com is a brave new news venture that, god bless em, launched at the worst possible time. Economically, at least! US newspapers have closed their foreign bureaus across the world, so from a news perspective, GP could certainly fill a hole with their international reporting (which is actually quite good, read it why don't you?). But in order to try to pull in enough pennies, they're doing everything they can think of—advertising (paltry), serving as a wire service for news outlets, and paying desperate reporters poverty wages and forcing them to listen to the ramblings of any subscriber who pays 200 bucks:

Called Passport, it offers access to GlobalPost correspondents, including exclusive reports on business topics of less interest to general audiences, conference calls and meetings with reporters, and breaking news e-mail messages from those journalists.

Passport subscribers, who pay as much as $199 a year, can suggest article ideas...

GlobalPost correspondents, who include the former Washington Post writer Caryle Murphy in Saudi Arabia and a Time magazine correspondent turned novelist, Matt Beynon Rees, in Jerusalem, are paid extra for Passport work. Their basic compensation is $1,000 a month for four articles, plus shares in the venture. The site had 500 applicants for the jobs, Mr. Sennott said.

Sounds fantastic for everyone except the reporters. If this site gets really popular, the sheer volume of wingnuttery could become untenable. But the alternative is reporters being forced to listen to the ramblings of customers at the counter of Starbucks, where they work because they can't find a journalism job. So let's all pray for GlobalPost.com, together. [NYT]