Tent cities and micro-funded journalism


I’ve long been a fan of David Cohn’s Spot.us, so after reading this note he sent to a journalism mailing list we’re both on:

“I strongly believe that it is up to the citizens of a city to ensure that journalism continues by either donating time or money. Both are helpful.

Take Spot.Us: We have one pitch which is just $135 shy of being fully funded! It’s a good story too – on the rise of tent cities during this economic crisis.


All we need is 13 or so citizens to stand up and make a difference by donating $10. I have to believe those people are there – which means that instead of paying for the large overhead of a newspaper – all the money will towards the reporting (the important part). Currently most newspaper budgets only give 10-25% of their budget towards actual reporting.” (by the way, this note was part of a discussion started by Aldon Hynes’ interesting post on the possibility of 2 Connecticut papers closing.)

Wednesday night I went to the site and found that the story was by then just $35 dollars away from being funded. Story sounded interesting, and I was further attracted by the “tent city” hook because I live in a wonderful non-profit housing development in Boston called Tent City (created 40 years ago after a successful affordable housing protest), so I pulled out my credit card and contributed the missing money.

Then yesterday I got a call from a producer at WGBH’s Greater Boston who’d read Mark Glaser’s excellent piece on crowd-funding journalism and was doing a segment for today’s show on the topic and wanted to know what inspired me, in Boston, to contribute to a journalist writing a story in California.

So if you haven’t yet thought about what might inspire you to contribute to funding the journalism you want to see – now’s the time. Crowd-funding of journalism is in the air.

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