Hello, My name is Jason Pitzl-Waters. I'm a religion-beat journalist who primarily covers modern Paganism, esoteric tradtions, and related minority faiths. I write daily at The Wild Hunt, hosted by Patheos.com.
“The Wild Hunt blog is a must-read for those interested in news and events dealing with the modern Pagan and Heathen communities – and religion coverage in general.” – M.Z. Hemingway, Get Religion
“…a source for smart commentary on a broad range of news, media, and ideas from a pagan perspective.” – Jeff Sharlet, author of “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power”.
In addition to my work at The Wild Hunt, I'm a contributor to the On Faith section at The Washington Post, and co-founder of the grassroots organization The Pagan Newswire Collective. Smart, dedicated, and responsive journalism for the interconnected Pagan communities has been my life's work for the past decade.
We live in an unparalleled and historic time for the evolution and growth of Pagan-oriented media, and the development of journalism within our interconnected communities. In the span of a decade we've gone from counting notable self-identified Pagan journalists on one hand, to watching the evolution of a grass-roots Pagan newswire project, and the emergence of a vibrant and unprecedented interview culture thanks to podcasts and Internet radio. I've been truly blessed, through The Wild Hunt, to be a participant, booster, and direct beneficiary of this phenomenon. I've been an ardent evangelizer for the power of new media within our community, and I'm always looking for new ways Pagan journalists and media professionals can do their work in a sustainable manner.
Over the years, I've often been asked if I can cover a certain event, or if I'll be attending a festival or conference. While I wish the answer could always be "yes," I've often been limited in what I could afford to do. While Patheos does pay me something for writing here, it amounts to hundreds of dollars per month, and (sadly) not the high end of "hundreds." Simply put, I don't even make minimum wage writing and reporting for the Pagan community on a daily basis. I don't say this to garner sympathy, but to just plainly state what the fiscal realities are of the current job I perform. Most of the events I cover in person have been possible because the organizers have covered my expenses, or else I sprung for the costs myself. Because of this, whenever an event is too far away, I usually can't go, and instead hope that others will do first-hand accounts that I can build from.
So, starting today, I'm beginning a new experiment in "crowdfunding" Pagan journalism. I'm going to start launching small campaigns through Indiegogo to raise travel and living expenses for events that I feel are important for me to cover in person. If the event gets funded, then I go. If it doesn't, I won't. My first campaign is to raise funds for the American Academy of Religion's 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago. The AAR is the world’s largest association of academics who research or teach topics related to religion, and their annual meeting has become a vital place to hear about the latest scholarship in the field of Pagan Studies (and just about every other religious and philosophical tradition as well). In 2011, my trip to the AAR's Annual Meeting in San Francisco allowed me to share a talk by Starhawk on elemental theology, and explore Paganism's solitary, eclectic, future. Not to mention the many connections and sources I was able to meet firsthand.
All of these campaigns will be relatively small-dollar in scope, usually 1-2 thousand dollars for each trip. The amount raised will only cover travel, food, and lodging. Any savings I make due to alternate living/eating/travel arrangements will be forwarded to the next campaign. I will also take suggestions on events that I should cover and open the idea up to comment here at The Wild Hunt. Should I go to the Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle? Paganicon in Minnesota? What about an event in England? Make your voices heard, and if there's enough demand, we'll try to fund them one at a time. Ultimately, I would like to build this up and work towards funding a trip to the 2014 Parliament of the World's Religions in Belgium.
All trips that are successfully crowdfunded will come with expectations on what I will deliver. Daily reports, yes, but also exclusive audio interviews that I will make freely available for any Pagan media outlet to use, and groundwork for larger, more in depth, stories. Ideally, this project will not only give you more on-the-ground journalism at events that are important to us, but create a model for other Pagans to try as well. If I succeed, it means it can succeed for others like me. In the end, it will mean a richer, more robust, Pagan journalism. I hope you'll join me in this quest, spread the word, donate what you can, and help me in continuing to push the barriers of Pagan media.
Breakdown of estimated costs:
Flight: $550 (roundtrip)
Hotel: $165 per day ($660 for 4 days not including tax)
Estimated hotel tax: $110
Food: $50 Per day ($200)
Internet: $10 Per day ($40)
Registration (if I'm not able to get press credentials): $325
Minus $35 dollars just because.