Community Funded Reporting

This week Ruby and I went to two conferences in Minneapolis. The first one done in Open Space / Unconference style was New Pamphleteers/New Reporters:Convening Entrepreneurs Who Combine Journalism, Democracy, Place and Blogs at the University of Minnesota. (What a long name huh?)

One of the best ideas I heard this week was Spot.us.

“Spot Us” is a nonprofit that allows an individual or group to take control of news in their community by sharing the cost (crowdfunding) to commission freelance journalists to write important, or uncovered news stories.

Dave Cohn is behind this idea and he explained it to us via Skype. I was amazed at how few people where in this mini-session. Because it feels like a real innovation that could answer the burning question on every corporate journalist and CEOs mind, “How do we make money making journalism so we can get it done?”.

But the big difference between this idea, as I see it, and how media CEOs do is that this is about direct funding to individual journalist not organizations or corporations. Yet another middle man removed from the process of making media and protecting our democracy. But I don’t think the corporate media folks at this conference had thought about this that much. There were just too many competing sessions. Their loss.

I’ll be paying close attention to how Spot.us progresses. Dave plans to roll this service out to the Bay Area first then other communities one at a time. Sounds like a good plan. It worked for Graig’s List.

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