Sunday’s New York Times had a big article on David Cohn’s community funded journalism.
“Spot Us would give a new sense of editorial power to the public,” said David Cohn, a 26-year-old Web journalist who received a $340,000, two-year grant from the Knight Foundation to test his idea. “I’m not Bill and Melinda Gates, but I can give $10. This is the Obama model. This is the Howard Dean model.”
Those campaigns revolutionized politics by using the power of the Web to raise small sums from vast numbers of people, making average citizens feel a part of the process in a way they had not felt before. In the same way, Spot Us hopes to empower citizens to be part of a newsgathering enterprise that, polls show, many mistrust and regard as both biased and elitist.
Other enterprises have found success with this approach, which, in the Internet age, has become known as “crowdfunding.” This financing model takes its name from crowdsourcing, a method for using the public, typically via the Internet, to supply what employees and experts once did: information, research and development, T-shirt designs, stock photos, advertising spots. In crowdsourcing, the people supply the content; in crowdfunding, they supply the cash.
Right now, they are six, $25 donations shy of a major test case to fact-check initiative mail in San Francisco. This concept has received a great deal of attention, especially as big thinkers try to figure out the future of investigative journalism. It will also be great for San Francisco voters to get the benefit of knowing the truth about the initiatives (PG&E has already mailed me multiple pieces that are lies, not misinformation, but lies). Check it out and help push the funding over the top.