Publishing with Crowdfunding – Part II
“Journalism serves the public.” That’s the first thing journalism students hear. And I know what I’m talking about – I’m a journalism student myself. But serving the public is not as simple as it might have once been with the newspaper industry shifting increasingly into the red. One of the biggest problems lies in finances – publishers merge newspapers and magazines close down. Interest from ad agencies in print media continues to sink, while new media broadens. Nevertheless, intensive research and reporting is all but nonexistent.Got to hand it to the crowd!
The crowdsourcing platform SpotUs has set itself up with the goal of standing the beleaguered news industry back on its feet by promoting investigative journalism. Since its founding in 2008, 190 such projects have been financed and actualized through the portal. The concept is as simple as it is brilliant.
The 9,000 registered members pitch articles with audio- or video posts, which they would like researched and reported on. Essentially they are pitches and tips for interesting pieces. Most of the entries are political, social or eco-politically themed. Any of the users – among them journalists, Pulitzer Prize winners and high schoolers – can post a pitch or tip off a scoop.
When proposing an idea, the proposer also gives their estimate for how much the project will cost. The crowd can then donate to the cause, generally between $10 and $20, with no one investor ever donating more than 20% of the project’s total cost.
Through this type of independent funding, the author is never indebted to any single contributor. The finished article is then published on SpotUs and made available to the world, under the condition they credit the author.
News agencies and other organizations can also take part in financing. If agencies contribute 50% of the cost, they insure the first publication rights. Newsrooms have also begun using SpotUs. Freelance journalist Sheila Regan wrote an article for the local news site, TC Daily Planet, which couldn’t afford investigative reporting. Because the story she pitched interested enough users, SpotUs members picked up the difference of the costs, and in the end made it possible for the site to publish her work.And as another option…
Media and market research companies can offer to pick up the bill a story’s commission, if users will take part in a survey to find out what the readership is interested in. Then they donate to the most chosen story ideas to maximize their market reach. This way the SpotUs members can also donate to certain pitched stories without having to invest their own money.SpotUs is already winning awards
Seven projects which have been funded through SpotUs have won meaningful attention, like the Freedom of Information Award, for example.
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Rape in the US Army
Indian Wars in Minnesota
Corruption in the highest ranks of University of California Regents