As media organisations lay off staff around the world, many journalists have found crowdfunding a great avenue to raise funds to continue to create stories that matter to them. This great article in The International Business Times, The Year of Kickstarter Journalism: Crowdfunding is Doing What The News Organisations Can’t links to several examples. This article on The Canadian Journalism Project highlights a problem often experienced by journalists – they need to self-fund their travel upfront and commissions are harder to obtain.
Australian crowdfunding platform Pozible has a journalism category and has seen many successful campaigns including the re-launch of the New Matilda, raising close to A$176,000 in December 2010. Another more recent success story on Pozible for journalism was the campaign for Young Vagabond Magazine. In January this year they raised well over A$17,000 for a magazine for young women to offer an alternative and healthier view and role models.Their first edition is now available and you can find out more about them here. Clearly crowdfunding journalism can work, and can work on the more general platforms.
But there are also some crowdfunding sites set up specifically aimed at journalists.
Vourno is an online crowdfunding platform and independent news network for video journalism projects. With a ‘soft-launch for US based journalists on May 20, they will open up to global projects later in 2013.
“Vourno provides journalists (Vournos) with the tools to raise capital for the creation and production of quality, newsworthy content and gives the public (Pubs) the ability to directly fund, share, watch and rate those stories. Successfully funded projects will be produced and premiered on our network. Our goals are to democratize the news, take “crowdfunded reporting” to the next level and change the entire news landscape for years to come.”
This US based site opened up to Vournos (or writers) 20 May 2013 to have the opportunity for people (Pubs) to fund story pitches. Shortly afterwards they will be launching globally. When they support a pitch Pubs receive credits. They are listed in the video and on the video view page and will receive a credit as a Pub, Associate Pub, Senior Pub or Executive Pub. The dollar amounts for each level are determined by a pre-set formula Vourno have established that is per centage of total funding. The Vourno sets a minimum funding amount and a funding goal and their system calculates the dollar amounts for each level of credit.
Funding Model: All or nothing within the funding period – 30 days, unless it’s Breaking News when targets are set at 15 days. Vournos will receive a set 91 per cent of funding amount. Vourno charge 9 per cent for administration and transaction costs.
Headquarters: New York, United States.
Globally accessible? At launch they will be open to Vournos with US bank accounts. They expect to be open globally by the third quarter of 2013. People can donate from anywhere in the world.
“We believe we created a great value proposition for Vournos to build a portfolio and make money doing what they love. “
You can sign up on the Vourno website to receive their newsletter, like them on Facebook or follow on Twitter. If you are interested in finding out more about this new platform, email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is one to watch!
Update: 21 May 2013: Only one day after launching Vourno had it’s first project listed. Kids for Cash, a project by Charles Choice to investigate private prison companies lobbying with judges and politicians to enforce stricter sentencing for young offenders. The funding goal was reached within twelve hours.
Crowdfunding to enable photojournalists to pitch their projects directly to the public. Backers can also help a photography book be created through Emphas.is Books by pre-ordering a copy and giving access to signed and numbered collector’s editions.
Photojournalists can pitch their stories to the world and set up pre-ordering to fund publication of books. All projects are vetted prior to being listed on the platform. The feedback is always shared with the photographer. Projects can be run for a maximum of 60 days.
Emphas.is has partnered with printer in Northern Italy to print books and offers free shipping worldwide during the fundraising period. Yes, that includes to Australia as well! Backers receive ‘behind the scenes’ information on the project throughout the funding period as well potential for exclusive rewards.
Funding Model: All or nothing. When projects are fully funded it charges a 15 per cent fee for operational costs. There are PayPal fees too.
Headquarters: Dublin, Ireland
Globally accessible? Yes, Emphas.is is open to creators and backers globally.
Find out about some of the sites that are crowdsourcing news and investigative journalism:
Investigate.ie: This Irish site uses crowdsourcing to identify stories to be written by their freelance journalists. People in Ireland are able to submit a story that, if deemed to be worthy of a story, will be followed up by Investigate.ie. If the story is created it will then be sold to media networks. Focussing on investigative journalism, Founders Maria Delaney and Peadar Grogan set up this brand new site after they completed a media and innovation course as part of their MA in Journalism at Dublin University. Investigate.ie was launched in early May 2013 and offers other news media services.
From their website:
The opportunities for investigative journalism have reduced within traditional outlets in recent years due to pressure from faster news cycles, lower circulation figures and reduced advertising revenues. Our innovative model of journalism will help fill this niche in a sustainable way by working with the public directly.
GoJo: GoJournalism, or GoJo as they call themselves, is a non-profit based in Ottwa, Ontario, Canada and is owned, funded and operated by the Algonquin College Journalism program. What is nice about this one is all money raised goes to the journalist as fees are covered by the College.
From their website:
Through GoJournalism the public can commission and participate with journalists to do reporting on overlooked topics that mainstream media may not have the resources or mandate to cover. And journalists can pitch stories they hope will be co-funded – or directly funded — by the public and mainstream news organizations.
GoJournalism is not a publishing site. Rather, it is a free brokerage, or a conduit to news organizations and the general public, bringing the community and mainstream media together to co-fund stories.”
YAN: Hacktivist group Anonymous recently ran an Indiegogo campaign to expand their citizen news service Your Anon News (YAN). Currently this only is available on Twitter and Tumblr but they went for a campaign raise of US$2,000 and ended up raising over US$54,000. We can expect to hear a lot more from them once they launch the website!
Spot.us: The leader in community-based reporting has gone very quiet recently. When updating Crowdfund it! I did a bit of research online and it appeared that since the founder David Cohn sold the platform to American Public Media that things had slowed up. I was keen to find out more as I wanted to include them in the latest update, but my requests for more information via Facebook, Twitter, and even emails to APM went unanswered. It’s a shame, but it seems as though this once thriving site is now only existing as a skeleton online. And if I’m wrong, I’d love to hear it!
Vourno, Emphas.is, Pozible and Kickstarter are all included in the newly updated Crowdfund it! Available through all ebook retailers, with printed copies available through the Publisher Editia Books. Expanded to include more information on how to prepare and run your crowdfunding campaign.
What do you think? Is Crowdfunding a viable way forward for journalism projects?