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Crowdfunding: When Believers Provide Support

David Cohn at NewAssignment.net has been thinking about his own version of Representative Journalism. The other day he wrote at his blog:

Representative journalism, as I understand it, is very similar to what Innocentive has done for science research. (More reading: Our Assignment Zero interview with Alpheus Bingham, co-founder of Innocentive.)

I’d like to add my voice to the chorus. This is a business model that we’ve thrown around as an idea here at NewAssignment.Net — and in truth I think it’s the future of independent investigative journalism. I’m glad Leonard Witt has come up with a name for it. I’ve been struggling myself, often referring to it as “Innocentive journalism.”

The basis of the model is micropayments. Independent journalists post what investigations they want to begin. With the potential investigations posted, individual readers can then decide to donate $10 or so to the investigation they are most interested in. If 300 people donate $10 you have $3,000. That’s not a bad monthly wage for an independent journalist.

The individual funders are what Sellaband, an example of crowdfunding, would call believers. With enough believers, an independent band gets to record an album with SellaBand.

My favorite example of crowdfunding (I love this word, thanks David) is Kiva.org. It is addictive and smart. 

David, you should be talking with Bill Buzenberg,  executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. This nonprofit center does investigative reporting worldwide. Recently over dinner in D.C. I was telling Buzenberg about Kiva.org and how its format might be a mechanism to pay for some of his investigative journalism projects, especially in developing countries, where, as Kiva.org proves, a little money can go a long way.

 I have imagined that Representative Journalism would take a more sustainable approach, but whatever adds to supporting fine journalism gets added to the mix.

2 Responses to “Crowdfunding: When Believers Provide Support”

  1. David Cohn Says:

    Lenn: Crowdfunding is a good word to describe micropayments made through the Internet. Other examples include Robin Hood Fund, Fundable, SellaBand and of course Kiva. Kiva is fantastic — giving for a social cause.

    I think journalism is ready for a crowdfunding organization. At the very least, we should give it a whirl. I really like the name “Representative Journalism.” I think it gets to the heart of the relationship between the funders and the journalist. They represent an interest in a topic, they represent the eyes and ears of a crowd of people looking digging into something.

  2. Representative Journalism - Blog - Lessons Learned: Week 1 Representative Journalism Blog Says:

    [...] this transparency, this  weaving together of audience and producer are both crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. On a mechanistic level it will be easier to raise money than it has been in the past.  And the [...]

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    Leonard Witt

    Leonard Witt is the Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication at Kennesaw State University and the chief blogger at PJNet.org.

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