COMMUNITY FUNDED reporting. I like this idea a lot. Their domain name is sweet too, Spot.Us
Spot.us is, as stated in their elevator pitch-
a nonprofit project to pioneer “community funded reporting.” Through Spot.Us the public can commission investigations with tax deductible donations for important and perhaps overlooked stories. If a news organization buys exclusive rights to the content, donations are reimbursed. Otherwise content is made available through a Creative Commons license.
The basic concept is that you can donate $20 (or other amounts) to help fund currently accepted pitches, and you can also register, which enables you to submit your own pitches for consideration and funding.
Just to get an idea of what kinds of pitches are currently being funded, check out some of these titles:
*Who Benefits from the Legalization of Medical Marijuana
*American Apparel’s Firings: A Canary in the Immigration Policy Coal Mine
*New Depression in LA
Admittedly, I’ve only just briefly checked out this community, but I love what I see so far. There appears to be a very clean and straightforward system of submitting pitches, having work peer reviewed as well as work on stories in collaboration, something I believe will become more and more common to journalists working in 2010.
What really stokes me though about the concept of Spot.Us is that it’s locally-based (currently in the Bay Area and Los Angeles) yet scalable worldwide.
With current freelance writing rates bottoming out last year, Spot.Us gives writers a chance to make a decent rate for their work, and most importantly, pursue stories they might otherwise be unable to afford researching or going after. I would love to see this blow up around the country.
For more info, check out this slideshow:
What do you think about community funded reporting? Please let us know in the comments. We’d especially like to hear from any community members of spot.us.