Guidance from the Garbage Girl: Destination Hopenhagen

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I first saw Lindsey Hoshaw (aka the “garbage girl”) on a big screen in a dimly-lit dining room. Before an audience of scientists and journalists, Erika Check Hayden played Hoshaw’s video as an example of the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that new journalists are going to need in order to survive the shock-waves currently going through the industry–and then somehow tell the stories that need to be told.

Despite the rough audio and the simplicity of the video, I found myself drawn to the sincerity in Hoshaw’s eyes. She looked like she really wanted to spend her summer sorting through floating debris and somehow convince the average person to think about their role in producing it.

So, she cast her pitch into the vast expanses of the internet–and people bought it.
Literally.

Through crowd-sourced funding, Hoshaw earned the money for her voyage from supporters on the spot.us website.

The results of her research now appear in her New York Times article and the accompanying slide show.

In a world where many have access to the tools of mass dissemination, but not necessarily the funding to do anything too ambitious, this young woman was able to appeal directly to the public.

In Bill Mitchell‘s words, “…the project provides a vivid illustration of how the combination of a reporter’s drive, a publisher’s flexibility and an innovator’s imagination can fill gaps left by journalism’s crumbling old business models.”

Hoshaw made her own luck. And now the Huffington Post and Hopenhagen.org are inviting other aspiring journalists to follow suit.

They want to send a citizen journalist to the international climate conference in Copenhagen this December as the Hopenhagen Ambassador. They’ll pay for the winner’s flight and accommodation, secure his/her press accreditation, and provide media training with Matt Palevsky. The winner will also blog and record the events.

Here’s their pitch.

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Big responsibility, isn’t it?
Some would call it historic–kind of like the Copenhagen conference itself. (Whether it’s a historic success or a historic failure, though, is harder to predict.)

I don’t have access to Hoshaw’s head, so I don’t know what it must feel like to be propelled into a project by a supportive crowd. It’s probably humbling and certainly terrifying. But she did it, and she did it well (especially on her blog).

The thing that first drew people to Hoshaw, I think, wasn’t her professional polish or dogged demeanor…it was simply her authenticity.

I am hoping this post will help spread the word about this incredible opportunity.

Read more about it here.

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore.  ~André Gide

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