Four former Providence Journal employees have teamed up to have "a little fun in the face of potential economic ruin" — by creating their own newsletter.
Scott Kingsley, Brandie Jefferson, Denise Bass and David DelPoio — who all lost their jobs as part of recent layoffs at the Journal — now manage Stimulus Times, a free weekly publication available throughout the East Side.
Stimulus Times, which published its second issue Wednesday, has a circulation of 2,500 copies. According to its Web site — stimulustimes.com — the newsletter is "a quirky look at the stimulus package and its effect on our economy."
Started by Kingsley, a former assistant managing editor at the Journal, the newsletter can be found at local businesses on Hope Street, Thayer Street and Wickenden Street and in Wayland Square.
Kingsley told The Herald he decided to publish the newsletter after being laid off from the Journal in March.
"There aren't any jobs in the newspaper industry," he said, adding, "There's no way I could make any money sitting on the end of the couch, and I wanted to put my name out there."
Though the newsletter's name alludes to the Stimulus Package, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Kingsley said there is no political agenda motivating the newsletter.
"It's about stimulating a conversation," he said. "It's about the times we live in."
This week's edition includes articles with titles such as "Think You're Stressed?" and "AIG's Largesse."
There is also a "Stimu-stat" about employer insurance, a "Stimu-dex" measuring public interest in the stimulus package and a request for readers to vote online for a "Stimulator of the Week" from three local figures — a florist, a sushi chef and the infant of a neighborhood business owner.
The group is also hosting a "handwringing party" next Tuesday where attendees can "kvetch" about their economic worries.
Kingsley admitted that many of the stories the Stimulus Times offers are supposed to be humorous.
"It's goofy. I get that," he said. "It's not journalism. It's getting out and meeting people."
Kingsley has certainly met people. Since publishing the first issue last week, Kingsley estimates he has met more than 50 local business owners. In addition to introducing himself and Stimulus Times, he encourages them to advertise in the newsletter.
"I can put feet in their street," he said.
Though the paper now has many advertisers, Kingsley said he has yet to break even. But he said he expects to begin turning profits in the near future, and he and his colleagues will stay in the business for as long as they can.
Still, the project isn't going to replace a day job for Kingsley.
"I am looking for a full-time job," he said. "I have a family. I need health benefits."