Tag Archives: Knight News Challenge

Can Spot.Us help save news organizations from advertising dependence?

I consider Spot Us, which launched today, to be one of the more important news experiments out there right now.

For those just hearing of it now: The site, dreamed up and guided by the brilliant David Cohn, shares editorial power with the community. It can begin with a story pitch by a journalist, or a news tip from your average resident. Once a story is pitched, the community votes with its wallet on whether or not to write the story. If you believe the story is worthwhile, you offer a small contribution. Once enough money is raised to hire a reporter, the story is written and offered to whatever media would like to use it.

It allows the community to be the assignment editor. The community directly tells you how much value they place on a story based on their own pocketbook.

Do yourself a favor and read far more about it in far better ways at the Spot.Us site, at the Knight Digital Media Center, at the New York Times, and a billion other places.

What makes the concept so important is that it’s a much-needed juke away from the sacred advertising model, the altar to which newspapers have prayed for so long yet is crumbling before us. This isn’t the kind of cosmetic change we’re used to hearing from news organizations trying to reinvent themselves — More blogs! Users can now comment on stories! — this is a turn-everything-upside-down-and-tear-it-all-apart attempt at finding a new business model. Or at least part of one.

Yes, I must add that I have my skepticisms, the ones that probably have immediately stirred in your head. But here’s the fun part: David is aware of these skepticisms, and as far as I know he embraces them. He knows this is an experiment (funded by a Knight News Challenge grant).

It’s part of the evolutionary process that has mostly passed news organizations by. I’ll be watching closely to see what works and what doesn’t. One way or another, we’re going to know more about our future.

Knight News Challenge: Feedback needed

I’ve been struck by an idea, and I hate keeping ideas to myself. Especially with fun communication toys like blogs and Twitter so easily available.

But I’m very enthusiastic about this idea, and I think it might be best presented through the Knight News Challenge, which offers moola to ideas that will push journalism forward. I believe this one will — and I believe it might need the funding the challenge’s grants would provide.

I know my idea will be better once it’s tossed around in more brains than my own. But since we’re talking about a competition, I truly don’t know if it’s better to throw it into the Knight News Challenge garage or just pass it through some people I trust.

That’s where I’m hoping you come in.

I’d like to set up a small circle of friends, colleagues, bloggers and Twitter users to whom I could, in confidence, present my idea. I’m looking for journalists specifically, and would be extra grateful for college students or recent graduates in particular. I don’t need to know you all that well.

All I ask is that you’re willing to get an e-mail or two from me. Send feedback if you have it, or you can ignore it if you don’t.

Mostly, I just want to have a few people to tell me whether or not I’m nuts. Doesn’t that sound fun?

E-mail me or leave me your address if you’d be willing to help. Thanks.