The decision last month by the News & Record newspaper in Greensboro, NC, to accept underwriting from a local non-profit to fund arts coverage has plenty of critics, including the paper’s former editor. Instead of one deep pocket, The Columbia Journalism Review argues that many shallow pockets, in the form of crowdfunding, is potentially a better model for the industry to follow. It’s one that David Cohn, founder of one of the first journalism crowdfunding projects, supports:
I’m not trying to suggest that you just have to do this and all of a sudden all the woes of economics in journalism are solved. But it is low-hanging fruit. It’s not that difficult to implement. The technology is not mind-blowing.
Crowdfunding has already gained some traction in the wider journalism world. One platform, Beacon Reader, now lets readers fund specific topics as well as individual journalists. In Germany, meanwhile, Krautreporter recently managed to hit up 17,000 people for money and raised over a million euros. All because, as Krautreporter succinctly puts it, “Der online-journalismus ist kaputt”.