“Climate activist in SF in self-immolation PR action stunt to raise awareness about global warming: Do not try this at home! If you want to see this story researched, written, and published, click donate to help fund it!” That is tip 164 from a reader on Spot.us , a non-profit project that is pioneering “community-funded reporting” in California. My Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant had a feature about it today on its media page with the heading “Help, journalism is disappearing.” As I wrote in my earlier blog, I am worried about the future of my newspaper.
This new initiative wants to become a marketplace where independent reporters, community members and news organisations can come together and collaborate. By donating the public can commission journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories. All donations are tax deductible and if a news organisation buys exclusive rights to the content, the donation will be reimbursed. Otherwise, all content is made available to all through a Creative Commons license.
De Volkskrant puts this initiative in the context of many local US newspapers closing down or continuing only as web site, with hundreds of journalists losing their job. It remains to be seen if this Spot.us initiative of the Center for Media Change and funded by various groups like the Knight Foundation is stopping the rot.