Community funded reporting

Community funded reporting

There’s a new wave of journalism being funded by various non-profits and academic institutions and one of the most interesting is Spot.us The site has gotten a flurry of big media hits lately and social media marketers are scrambling to figure out how to incorporate Spot.us into their outreach strategies.

Here’s what Spot.us says is their mission:

We are an open source project to pioneer “community powered reporting.” Through Spot.Us the public can commission and participate with journalists to do reporting on important and perhaps overlooked topics. Contributions are tax deductible and we partner with news organizations to distribute content under appropriate licenses. Donors can also take a survey from our one our sponsors, when available, to support the story of their choice at no cost to them.

Basically, anyone can create a pitch about a local story that is then “reviewed” by the public (readers) who may or may not provide funding for the story. On the flip side, community members can support a story by providing funding for the “reporter’. Of the stories I saw, funding ranged from around $150 to over $2000 for locally based stories. Certain groups, like Storytellers for Good (who have raised nearly $16K as of this post) raise money to write a series of stories, these are on five Bay Area non-profits. It does seem as if most of the writers are real journalists and the stories are all reviewed by a peer-review editor to ensure accurate and fair reporting.

Spot.us is another in a group of sites trying to fill the “void” of community newspapers, however it seems to have some staying power having been through a few iterations since 2008. Yet what remains to be seen it…can brands, companies and special interests fund stories in their OWN interest, even though the site only allows news organizations  to donate more than 20% of a pitch. Come on, there are SO many ways to get around that. I’ll bet there’s a group of marketers chomping at the bit to figure out just how to do that.

3 Comments
  • Juliemarg
    Posted at 12:34h, 27 February Reply

    Really interesting! I clicked through to the site and they list and link to corporate sponsors of the stories. If you were a community minded business, and had a budget for sponsorship, you could potentially use this to improve your online presence while you did good works.

  • Blogmama
    Posted at 14:22h, 27 February Reply

    This is true grass roots journalism – I like the way the best stories will find their way to the fore rather than those that might be used to prop up an agenda.

  • artz
    Posted at 01:31h, 02 March Reply

    Great post here.

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