Could Kickstarter be used to crowdfund journalism? That’s the question GigaOM, a technology and business news portal, asks after a Michigan journalist managed to secure a few thousand dollars to fund an independent journalism project collating grassroots perspectives of Americans in the lead-up to the 2012 US election – it’s called Swing State Stories.
If anything, the fact that a journalist requires funding from charitable donors highlights the glaring financial stress the news media business is in, but we already knew about that. It also demonstrates that interesting, well-researched, trustworthy journalism costs money to make and that consumers are willing to pay for it, to a certain extent. What’s important to note is that large scale investigative reports can cost much more, hundreds of thousands of dollars sometimes. This particular journalist is willing to live in his car as he travels through the US for this project. The accumulated Kickstarter money will mainly pay for petrol, a video camera, some food.
I doubt crowdfunding can save the journalism industry in a broad way, although it may spark more independent projects. It’s an inspiring reminder of the power of the internet, as a medium for storytelling, for widespread distribution and its viral capabilities. The more stories, offering diverse and eclectic opinions, the better. Hopefully more freelancers will be inspired by this project.