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Spot.us Grows with New Concepts and New Communities

It has been a while since I posted anything on Spot.us, which is still going strong in the Bay Area and has branched into Los Angeles, Seattle and Minnesota. Just a reminder, Spot.us is David Cohn’s brainchild and in his words is: ” an open source project to pioneer ‘community powered reporting.’ Through Spot.Us the public can commission and participate with journalists to do reporting on important and perhaps overlooked topics.”

Here is the a story example that seeks to be underwritten by the public:

How green are cruise ship tourism dollars?

Cruise ships bring dollars and people into Seattle and other West Coast cities. But what is the impact on our oceans and coastal waters? Help West journalists find out by pledging your support to this story. We’ll bring the results…

Recently I emailed Cohn to see what is new, here is his response:

I’m super pumped on the new “Earn Credits” feature It was written about by Poynter here. In a weird way Spot.us is doing advertising. But the big switch is that our advertising budget is under the control of our community members. And that, in turn, gives more value proposition to the advertisers.

A sponsor (think NPR underwriter) can put up $1,000 and we will create a survey for the sponsor. The next X people who take the survey get Y dollars. (100 people could get $10 or 1,000 people could get $1, etc).

The users can then take the money they earn and direct it towards the story of their choice.

This way people can fund a story without using their own money.

Where we might see 1% of people respond to a request for money (a donation) we are seeing a 10% response to what we call “community-focused sponsorship.”

The next big thing we are working on is the API which was just announced with the Public Radio
Exchange (PRX). This is in the early, early, planning stages but I am very excited. You can learn more about it here.

Where Spot.Us has been a BIG success is in the proof of concept stage. Where we still need to prove ourselves is in working into an organization’s regular workflow. With this API, Public Radio Exchange is basically saying they want to work us into their regular workflow. I hope it works.

Finally: We intend to expand soon to be all over the country. One thing that hasn’t worked for Spot.Us is the idea of expansion ala Craigslist. There are a number of reasons why it isn’t working which I won’t go into here (unless you want me to). So we are going to be “everywhere” but we are still going to focus on local reporting from anywhere in the country.

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