15 September 2008

Spot.Us Tests Crowdfunding Model

A financing model where a community pays for investigative journalism is being trialled in America.

The Spot.Us project is currently pre-testing a model often known as crowdfunding where lots of people make a small donation towards a specified piece of work.

Spearheaded by Dave Cohn, Spot.Us is taking ideas from residents in the San Francisco Bay area about issues they would like to see investigated.

Donations are then submitted to fund the work of a freelance journalist to look into the topic and the resultant article is made available on the Spot.Us site.

Stories may also be distributed through other channels and via a single news organisation if it purchases exclusive rights.

Among the current pitches for investigation are the feasibility of cutting emissions from cement plants and increasing voter awareness.

Here’s the Spot.Us process according to its wiki:

"How ‘community funded reporting’ works:

Step 1: Anyone can create a story idea.

Step 2: Independent journalists create pitches from community feedback.

Step 3: Community members share the cost of reporting with micro-donations.

Step 4: Spot.Us will work with local news organizations to get the story published in as many places as possible. Or - we will give exclusive rights to a news organization that is willing to reimburse the original donors."

Spot.Us is funded by a $340,000 (£195,000) grant from the Knight Foundation through its News Challenge project.

Further details on Spot.Us and the crowdfunding model can be found in this New York Times article.

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