In the scramble to save quality journalism only one business model has really made itself known and that is the pay wall. However I recently discovered a journalism adaptation of an emerging funding model often used for funding creative ventures.
Crowd funding has been popular in film financing through sites such as indie gogo and kickstarter. Here creatives call out to their audiences with a synopsis or trailer, coupled with a personal plea asking audiences to help fund their latest film. The most successful of these would have to be Iron Sky.
In return contributors are offered, by scale of contribution, anything from a credit in the film to props from the set to personal screenings with the director. It all does vary.
In the United States a site called spot.us is taking that funding model and adapting it for investigative journalism. Again, journalists pitch their story to the audience and put a price on it. Readers are then offered a scale of ‘rewards’ for their contribution – as well as the feel good factor of allowing quality journalism to exist for the masses.
This is a brave business model. In a world where readers are struggling with pay walls and paying for online journalism, here is a model that asks you not to pay for an entire magazine or newspaper, but just one story.
Yet it does give weight and value to stories that would not necessarily be part of the mainstream press. It also allows individual, independent journalists to pitch ideas. The site then works with established partners in getting them published in mass media. Whether journalists receive any payment for the licensing of their work once it is published is not clear.
Pozible is also a crowd funding site that also allows audiences to support journalism projects. However as empowering as this model is, it does take a lot of work. You can’t just post an idea and hope that people will pay whatever you are offering. It needs engagement, promotion and dare I say lots of social media. It is up to the individual to get audiences to the site, get excited by your idea and then pay for it.
Regardless it really is encouraging to see a proactive solution to funding investigative journalism.