A retired venture capitalist and a newspaper columnist in his 80s are the standard-bearers for the non-profit media startup VoiceofSanDiego.org. A kindly profile in Online Journalism Review asks whether the new webzine is “a well-funded anomaly or one of the early pioneers in a nonprofit news revolution?” Paid Content’s Staci Kramer pointed me to OJR, which gave this low-down on the startup. It began last spring when San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Neil Morgan got a pink slip on his 80th birthday – after 50 years on staff. Retired venture capitalist Buzz Woolley contacted Morgan to suggest they launch a new news outlet, says OJR. I infer that Woolley (whose current interests include K-12 philanthropy) recruited former L.A. Times and Sacramento Bee reporter Barbara Bry to serve as editor-in-chief, and earlier this spring VoiceofSanDiego.org was heard. OJR details the website’s journalistic aspirations, which I will not reiterate here. I noticed few details about business plans, however. The Voice mission statement says it will “rely on a combination of individual donations, corporate sponsorships, foundation grants and advertising.” It’s not as if the team is run by business-averse newsies. Prior to joining Voice, Bry was involved in two Internet startups; one went public, the other was acquired. So I am perplexed by the lack of an ad sales push. Whatever Bry’s business plans, they are not obvious to me. I did note that the Voice site seems to be organized around a set of software tools offered by Kintera, a publicly-traded San Diego firm that specializes in helping non-profits do fundraising. The Kintera tools include a payment processing module. Is Voice gearing up for a subscription campaign? That’s just a guess. In any event VoiceofSanDiego bears watching. (Or is that listening?)

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media