Thursday, November 13, 2008

Crowdfunding: The Next Era of Journalism?

How much would you pay to hire a journalist to report and write a news story that matters to you and your neighbors? Several groups are now experimenting with "community-funded journalism," which relies upon online donations to enlist the skills of a journalist.

Several interesting write-ups on the concept can be explored, starting with a post by Mark Glaser on MediaShift, who begins:
Bands do it. Filmmakers do it. President-elect Barack Obama made an artform out of it. "It" is crowdfunding, getting micro-donations through the Internet to help fund a venture. The question is whether crowdfunding can work on a larger scale to help fund traditional journalism...
He puts the spotlight on two efforts, one in San Francisco called and the other in Northfield, Minn., called Representative Journalism, which is funding one reporter to cover the town of 17,000 residents. was the subject of a New York Times article in August. Crowdfunding may not be the answer to newspapers' revenue ills, the article notes. Then again, nothing else seems to be stemming the tide of newspaper cutbacks and layoffs.

As New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen notes in that story:

“The business model is broken. We’re at a point now where nobody actually knows where the money is going to come from for editorial goods in the future. My own feeling is that we need to try lots of things. Most of them won’t work. You’ll have a lot of failure. But we need to launch a lot of boats.”


(Photo credit: "Reporter" by alex-s, courtesy of

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