I recently stumbled across the website for Spot.Us, an interesting model in news production. Spot.Us is a nonprofit project of the Center for Media Change. It’s goal is to pioneer “community funded reporting” – enabling the public to commission journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories.
It’s an interesting concept, but on the surface it seems flawed on several levels – at least based on my basic understanding of media ethics. I have never met a journalist that would write a story that somebody paid for. Okay, I take that back – there are plenty of outlets that ‘secretly’ operate on the pay-to-play model, but that’s a topic for another post. It’s not common – at least not that I know of – at the mainstream media level.
Here’s how it works (based on what I could gather from the Spot.Us website). Let’s say there’s a story I think needs to be told, and the media isn’t covering it. I can pitch the story and commit funds to sponsor the production of the story. In turn, reporters can commit to doing the story. Now if the news organization buys the rights to the story, my tax deductible donation is reimbursed. So that is an approach media organizations can use to get around the payment issue. [Read more…]