Crowdfunding for journalism in tough places
August 10, 2016 4:26 AM   Subscribe

We need a new approach to supporting independent media — especially in partially free societies We all know how this story ends. In some cases, especially in Eastern Europe, the influx of foreign investors into the media market instead led to the appearance of collusion between the new media owners and the government (a sell-out hardly worth making for many, who ended up losing money and fleeing those markets a few years later). Many media properties that stayed in local hands fared even worse, bought up and reduced to hand-puppets by well-connected business people.

"Krautreporter proved it: donation-financed journalism is possible. Not only in the United States, but also in Germany – and possibly everywhere. Krautreporter was founded as a crowdfunding platform for journalism projects and investigations. In 2014 it changed its strategy: it would no longer help raising money for others, but started a campaign for its own online magazine for in-depth journalism with experienced writers. Within one month it raised around 1 million Euros (about US$1.1 million)."

“We’re creating a market for them abroad which doesn’t exist at home,” Druker said. “For repression reasons or economic reasons, there’s not enough money or will locally to support quality journalism. Press Start is a market correction in that way. We’ll have to see if the international crowd pays to correct this local funding gap for this type of work.”
posted by instinkt (3 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Here's my proposal: Media sources can earn a substantial portion of their budgets by exposing government waste. For example, if they show $1 billion dollars was wasted, they can earn $100 million.

Some safeguards would have to be put in place to determine the award. The "waste" could not be determined by political judgment, but rather by fraud. The Stealth bomber program would not be waste. Like it or not, it was voted forwards. Overcharging ten-fold on a Stealth Bomber part could be. Outright fraud would definitely be. The fraud/waste would need to result in money saved or else in an actionable response. There would also have to be some sort of limit to prevent papers from pursuing this solely, and maybe some structure that the money would need to be put in place to support local journalism or necessary functions.

I imagine something like a prize-committee with each newspaper submitting their entries for a given year.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:03 AM on August 10, 2016

And the state, criticized and exposed by the media, is supposed to guarantee that? Makes sense. Wikileaks accomplished a lot that way.

posted by instinkt at 6:18 AM on August 10, 2016

I suspect we're going to move towards more anonymous and pseudononymous investigative journalism, due to events like Assange and Wikileaks being attacked by the US government, Peter Thiel's attack on Gawker, all those dead journalists in Russia, etc.

In cases, there could be a career path where one starts doing stories that'll really piss off the establishment, but move gradually towards less radical stuff, and after the dust settles a bit you can reveal you identity to take a job in the traditional press. We do need mechanisms for paying anonymous journalists who actually do that politically dangerous work when they are doing it though.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:15 AM on August 10, 2016

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