Interview with Andrew Huff, Editor and Publisher of Gapers Block community media

Andrew Huff

Gapers Block is a Chicago-centric web publication providing information on news, events and other interesting stuff around town.

Andrew Huff, Editor & Publisher
Andrew thinks Chicagoland is the best amusement park ever. A lifelong night owl, he works deep into the night at his West Ridge two-flat, writing and editing and playing with the cats. He spends more time online than probably is healthy; follow along at Email him at

Gapers Block's Main Page 

- Could you please briefly tell when did you create your community media? Did you do it alone? What is your team now?
Gapers Block was founded in 2003 by my partner, Naz Hamid, and me, with a volunteer staff of a dozen additional writers. We were all members of the Chicago blogging community, which at the time was a small, relatively tight-knit group. Over the years, we added contributors and at our height we had more than 100 writers. Today we have around 65-70. The entire staff is volunteer.

- Did you have any funding at the start of creation? What was the amount of it?
No, it was started as a group project, funded out of pocket for the cost of hosting.

- What is the amount of funding now? Who are the donors?
Gapers Block is a for-profit company, not a non-profit. We survive on revenue from advertising, events and merchandise (t-shirts, posters, etc.). We received a one-time grant from the Chicago Community Trust in 2009, but that money is long gone.


- Do you have salary? Is that your only work or it is more like your hobby? 
I pay myself a little bit, but it’s mostly a hobby.

- What is the approximate amount you spent for your media in a month?
Our costs are around $300 a month, including hosting, newsletter service, and the rest.

- Does your media earn any money from advertisement or smth else?
Yes. As I said, we earn revenue from ads and events, and a little bit from t-shirts and other merchandise.

- Can you call yourself an independent media?
Yes. We are fully independent.

- What are the difficulties you encounter in your work?
An all-volunteer staff is a challenge, because you don’t have much leverage over writers who don’t make deadline, and life often interferes with availability and commitment. Also, since nobody is full-time, it’s difficult to sell ads, update software and handle other issues.

- And maybe you could give some advice for those Ukrainians who are going to create their own community media and don’t know where to start and where to get funding from. 
I don’t have a good answer for you on where to get funding, as I don’t know what options are available in Ukraine. But community journalism requires a dedicated team of contributors who are willing to work long hours and for months on end. Most sites fail not because they’re unsuccessful, but because those working on it ran out of steam.

Interviews were conducted under the Project "Fostering Civic Journalism in Ukrainian's Regions", supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. government.