Dave Cohn has officially launched Spot.Us, a Knight News Challenge project in “community-funded journalism.” It’s sort of a Kiva.org for journalism. One of the buzzwords being used around the effort is “crowd funding;” another, “community funded reporting.”
The New York Times explains it:
The idea is that anyone can propose a story, though the editors at Spot Us ultimately choose which stories to pursue. Then the burden is put on the citizenry, which is asked to contribute money to pay upfront all of the estimated reporting costs. If the money doesn’t materialize, the idea goes unreported.
Cohn says of Spot.Us:
Traditionally .001% of the public has a freelance budget to hire a journalist. We call those people “editors.” Spot.Us is an attempt to increase the percentage of people that can have an editorial influence. I am incredibly passionate about this project. As I noted when I first announced it at NewAssignment.net – I would be perfectly content if this becomes my lifelong contribution to journalism.
My free enterprise, business bias is that to be vibrant and growing journalism can, must and will be a part of successful commercial enterprises. And Spot.Us can in a sense create a market square for freelance or independent journalism as well as for philanthropic “community funded” journalism.
Cohn is an extremely bright, energetic young journalist and this is a tremendously ambitious experiment in American journalism. Variations of his concept have been bandied about, but he’s doing it in a big way.
On its launch, we wish Spot.Us great success.