28
Sep
09

Kickstarter has a point…

I find myself intrigued by Kickstarter: a virtual playground – an idea laboratory – that serves as a place to fund projects and test new concepts.

“KICKSTARTER IS A FUNDING PLATFORM FOR ARTISTS, DESIGNERS, FILMMAKERS, MUSICIANS, JOURNALISTS, INVENTORS, EXPLORERS…”

Viewers can peruse projects hopeful of gaining monetary backing alongside the amount (dollar and percentage) pledged plus how long until the campaign expires. Projects span the creative spectrum, including animated shorts, photography books and even construction efforts overseas.

I pose the following question to my fellow journalism peers: What if a site like this existed solely for reporting projects? As the amount of newspapers dwindle and advertising revenues dry up, it’s easy to imagine that enterprise reporting, completed in-house, will become a rare occurrence.

I remember listening to Gary Coronado at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar as he described working with Christine Evans to produce their Train Jumpers story about Mexican immigrants trying to cross the United States border. Since the two were employed by the Palm Beach Post, they had the luxury of being funded by their organization while continuing regular reporting duties. Coronado’s work helped him become a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.  I can’t help but wonder: How can today’s journalist hope to cover such an expansive story with little to no resources from their own organization? How can the freelancer accomplish such work, even lacking an organization’s support? A story of that magnitude would take years, not to mention the extensive travel costs.

By directly contributing funds to reporting efforts, the public might feel a stronger tie to a particular publication, or have a keener interest in the news and how it develops. It could also serve as a communication line between the media outlet and its community. By selecting which stories to fund, the community signifies to the organization, “OK, here’s what we are interested in. Here’s what we have a stake in. Here’s what we want to read, watch and listen to.”

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