That being said, you'd have to be fairly naive not to realize that said broadsheets have a limited budget and thus must depend on volunteer labor to a certain extent. Elly, as we're about to see, is just that naive; not only does she think that she's Lois Lane, she simply cannot see that the woman running the shoestring operation would like to pay her but cannot do so. Well, at least that's what I take away from encounters like this; given that what Mrs Walsh most seems to want is paying subscribers in order to keep her business afloat, it seems to me that she was barely treading water for the first few years. Not, as I've said, that Elly is smart enough or sufficiently aware of social norms to realize that when Mrs Walsh got defensive, she was trying to apologize for not having enough money to pay her staff.
The good thing that came out of this volunteer work is that it led to Elly getting a paying job as more or less a paid, permanent temp at the public library; the bad thing is that when the city decided that a volunteer could do the same job for less money, Elly didn't think to go back hat in hand to the Valley Voice for a new gig. That's because having become a fixture of the community with an actual budget, she could have made a living covering county fairs, high school soccer tournaments and the like.