Gone are the days of lonely reporters chasing down stories for a demanding editor. Here to stay are the days of online collaboration which brings together journalists, citizen journalists, readers, and publishers!
A new website is bypassing big newspapers’ top-down reporting and opting for community powered reporting. Spot.us is a hub for story ideas, fundraising to make stories happen, citizens willing to lend a reporting or researching hand, and publishers looking for quality content. Anyone can suggest a story for the reports or fund a story of interest.
Journalists As Civil Servants
The Spot.us system brings together readers and journalists in what it hopes will become “the rebirth of the journalist as a civil servant.” Erik Sundelof, CTO of Spot.us explains:
To me it’s a simple as this: the news industry got lost somewhere along the way. It started focusing too much on the past and not on the path towards the future. I’ve written more on this in The Ever Changing Media Landscape: It Is What It Should Be… Some of my main points from this include: 1. The traditional model for news is dead. This is the opportunity. Grab it. 2. Citizen and traditional media will co-exist and the boundary between journalists and citizen reporters will erode. 3. The traditional large news agglomerates will not exist in their current form, and this will open up for new more adaptive solutions and organizations. The word is diversity.
Five Minutes With Spot.us
The expansion of technology and citizen journalism has created room for reporting that is more user-inspired and -collaborated. As media-interested person, I decided to put to Spot.us to the test.
Arriving at Spot.us, I found a list of stories submitted by users and journalists waiting for funding. Two pitches peaked my attention:
The Caregiver Experience hopes to explore care-giving in America, probing:
Who provides the majority of the long-term care services in this country? Many Americans wrongly assume it is nursing homes. In reality, family members — mostly women — are the primary caretakers for people of all ages with disabilities and those who need help meeting daily needs.
The Homeless Triangle: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Prison hopes to explore the experiences of people who bounce between the two California cities and prison.
I picked these two stories because of their wide interest to many people: California has a booming prison population and many Americans will face elder care decisions in their lifetime. Such stories require extensive (and expensive!) research. I can choose to donate to the cause OR take a short survey sponsored by AARP, which will donate $5 on my behalf! Each survey took about a minute to complete.
In less than five minutes at Spot.us, I gave $10 to sponsor journalism I care about. I feel part of something! You too can be part of community-powered journalism by sponsoring quality investigations, offering your skills to help with stories and submiting your ideas to journalists.
Take A Visual Tour
This simple video quickly navigates the Spot.us website features:
When Readers Set The Editorial Agenda
Founder David Cohn told the San Francisco Chronicle his hopes to see news directed by citizens and writers instead of big papers and editors.
“Traditionally .001 percent of the population gets to set the news agenda, and they were called editors. They were the ones with freelance budgets, they could hire people and tell them what was important to cover. What I’m trying to do is increase the number of people who set the editorial agenda,” Cohn says.
Overall I found Spot.us to be a natural movement and comfortable environment for those who want to join the new tide of community journalism. Whatever you care about– I chose to support elderly care research and California prison reform research– you can support fresh, independent journalism at Spot.us.
Photo by Peter Giger on Flickr