Hobo broadsheet the New York Times, last seen telling its reporters that text messages are too expensive, has found another way to save precious nickels: getting freelancers to pay their own reporting expenses. With virtual panhandling!

Lindsey Hoshaw is a graduate of the Stanford J-school, and she wants to take a boat out into the middle of the Pacific Ocean to report on the massive floating garbage patch out there that will soon overtake us all. A worthy project! So Lindsey turned to Spot.us, where journalists pitch story ideas to the public and solicit donations for the reporting costs. (She needs $10K):

My enthusiasm for this project is only surpassed by the amazing opportunity I've been offered by The New York Times to publish an article and accompanying photos of my journey.

Qua? NYT science editor Laura Chang tells us:

We did not assign an article to Lindsey Hoshaw but we have indeed agreed to consider a freelance submission from her on the Pacific garbage patch. We have talked with Spot.us about their offer to raise support for her travel expenses, and this is O.K. with us.

So, the paper of record is happy to pay, I dunno, a few grand for this story, as long as Hoshaw can independently get the ten grand it'll cost to report it. Uh. Sounds like a good story, but yall better hope this method doesn't get too popular, cause then you'll really have to be rich to get into the lucrative field of journalism.