CrowdFunding New York

Trash or Treasure?

spot-usLast week the New York Times published a story by freelance journalist Lindsey Hoshaw on a plastic garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean that’s twice the size of Texas. The piece, though well-written, was unspectacular on its own. What makes Hoshaw's article special is how it was made: it was the first piece of completely crowdfunded reporting from community-funded journalism site Spot.Us to make the leap to the New York Times, a publication that many consider to be the pinnacle of mainstream American journalism.

Having Hoshaw's piece, for which over a hundred people raised close-to $10, 000 to produce, appear in the Times is certainly a feather in the cap of crowdfunded news. In July, I posited that crowdfunding might be the future of journalism, and the success of Hoshaw's piece lends credibility to the fundraising model.

From Concept to Completion

Spot.Us founder David Cohn gave kudos to the New York Times blog post, saying the paper acted like a “lean and mean startup” and that in the past he had spun his wheels with mainstream organizations. Cohn’s post offers a thorough analysis on how the pitch began, what it all meant, working with the Times, its test of fundraising, the live reportage, and what can be improved.

In the end, Spot.Us’s crowdfunding role for the story pitch is a win for Times, because the newspaper gets to run the story, but does not have to shoulder the expense of supporting a reporter on location. At a time when news organizations are being hammered with lower ad revenue and falling subscription numbers that have forced them to cut budgets and staff, such collaborations can fill a much needed void. Cohn said the role of Spot.Us is as a connector between freelancers and news organizations.

"News organizations have a shrinking staff and budget. They must rely more on freelancers but also don’t want to burn through the entire freelance budget on a single story. This is one reason why we are seeing less original long form reporting, " he wrote. "Spot.Us acted as the grease. I hope we can continue to grease the wheels between freelancers and the public or other news organizations."

What Makes a Good Crowdfunding Pitch?

What makes topics more appealing in the crowdfunding process? The topic (story) itself being pitched can play a big role. Here are a few criteria that could make such a story pitch work:

General importance. Will or should the audience care and is the topic in the public interest?

— The story is not readily accessible otherwise. Covering the story requires the reporter special access to the subject, and this is what makes the story unique.

— The topic is tied to some other, larger issue such as, in this case, the environment, global climate change, and pollution.

— The topic is relevant to some current topic being debated or discussed.

Having a publication lined up for the story pitch or at least the strong likelihood of it getting published doesn’t hurt either.

Does the Reporting Measure Up?

One worry of the crowdfunded approach is that the reportage won't ultimately measure up to traditionally funded pieces that come out of mainstream newsrooms. The Columbia Journalism Review reviewed the journalistic quality of the published piece, and compared it to the original pitch.

The New York Times Company Strategies for Philanthropy and Giving Back
eBooks (The New York Times Company)

Bitcoin oversupply of Thanksgiving turkeys

by what-to-do-Bitcoining

"The website Assassination Market, a crowdfunding service that lets anyone anonymously contribute Bitcoins towards a bounty on the head of any government official–a kind of Kickstarter for political assassinations. According to Assassination Market’s rules, if someone on its hit list is killed, any hitman who can prove he or she was responsible receives the collected funds.
"Sanjuro’s grisly ambitions go beyond raising the funds to bankroll a few political killings. He believes that if Assassination Market can persist and gain enough users, it will eventually enable the assassinations of enough politicians that no one would dare to hold office

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NEW YORK, April 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- CUSIP Global Services (CGS), a leading provider of unique security and entity identifiers and descriptive data that enable efficient global trading, and WealthForge, a licensed broker-dealer specializing in ..

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