Impact of Crowdfunding in Journalism - Case Study of Spot.Us

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A case study of Spot.Us, a crowdfunded platform to support journalism, based on interviews with Spot.Us reporters and donors. This case study is a part of my Ph.D. work

A case study of Spot.Us, a crowdfunded platform to support journalism, based on interviews with Spot.Us reporters and donors. This case study is a part of my Ph.D. work

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  • 1. The Impact of Crowdfunding in Journalism
    • Case study of Spot.Us
    • MA, MSc Tanja Aitamurto
    • [email_address]
    • @tanjaaita
  • 2. Research Questions
    • How does crowdfunding impact journalism?
    • ... the role and profession of journalist?
    • ... relationship between a reader and a journalist?
    • ... reader experience?
  • 3.
    • Semi-Structured Interviews with Spot.Us reporters and donors
    • Seven reporters, eight donors
    • July 2009-April 2010
    • Theoretical framework: Collective Intelligence (Pierre Levy), Participatory Culture (Henry Jenkins)
  • 4.
    • “ personally motivating”, “gratifying”
    • donating creates a connection to the readers that is “beyond professionally motivating”
    • “ When I started working on the story [for Spot.us] I already knew who the readers are, whereas when writing a usual story [in a traditional journalism model] sometimes it feels like writing for a black hole.” (Reporter, 27 years.)
    Reporter’s Point of View
  • 5.
      • “ .. .it is more than having it written in a nice style and formatted properly, things you worry about for an editor. You worry more about the accuracy, really honest reporting and presenting the issues correctly, because these people have directly invested in you. “ (Reporter, 22 years.)
  • 6.
    • Pitching in public is a radically new thing in journalism
    • “Will this be a popularity contest?” (Reporter, 31 y ears)
    • “ I don't like pitching in public. Yeah, hell, it is scary to pitch in public. I didn't reveal everything in the pitch. (Reporter, 57 years)
    • Will somebody steal my story?
  • 7.
    • Uncomfortable with asking for money
    • “ And then I just do wonder ..I do want to meet my fundraising goal. But on the other hand I’m really hesitant to send out that e-mail or put up on Facebook, “hey, I’ve got this pitch going you know, think about donating.” I just don’t feel comfortable doing that. “(Reporter, 31 years old.)
    • “ I’m a journalist, not a salesperson”
    • Facebooking, tweeting about the pitch feels like “shaking a tin can”
  • 8.
    • For some, raising awareness about the pitch is natural
    • “ You just have to be out there. It is natural to go and speak with people about my pitch, and I like doing it. I don’t ask money, I just tell people what I’m working on. (Reporter, 27 years old)
    • In the Spot.Us model, the reporter takes responsibility over the whole story process - from pitching to the writing
    • Creative work and commerce coming more together in cultural work (Deuze, 2009)
    • Creative workers need to see their skills in commercial terms, vs. creative autonomy and peer review and market appeal
  • 9. Donor’s Point of View
    • Primary reason to donate: to support high-quality journalism, to support healthy, democratic society
    • Donating doesn’t create a strong connection to journalism or to the reporter
    • Participating as a way to contribute to social change, social good
  • 10.
    • I don't think I'm gonna get anything (for my donation). I'll learn something out of the process. This is more of a ... I consider this as a donation for the common good, more than anything else, or any kind of personal gain. (Donor, 30 years.)
    • When I fund a story, (---) I'd like to see it published in a place to get as much attention as possible, and finally, I want to see whatever change the story is trying to bring about, happen. (Donor, 23 years.)
  • 11.
    • Donors are not very interested in participating in other ways than donating
    • ”I participated by donating. I don’t have so much to say about the topic, and I’m not used to leaving comments on websites.“ (Donor, 57 years)
    • Comments, tips haven’t been beneficial for the reporters
  • 12. Conclusions
    • Crowdfunded journalistic process creates a strong connection between the reporter and the donor from the reporter’s point of view.
    • New kind of responsibility
    • Donor’s loose relationship, philanthropic approach
    • Donors donating for social good - healthy society - should journalism use more cause-marketing when selling the product?