Spot.us to launch
Before I get swamped by classes for the rest of the day, a note that Spot.us, Dave Cohn's "pay for journalism" crowdfunding site, is supposed to go live later today.
The concept is simple:
1)you as a member of the public see something you'd like a journalist to dig into. You can post a tip.
2) A journalist can latch onto that tip and make a pitch to follow it -- or can pitch his or her own stories.
3) If you like the pitch and want to see it reported, you donate to the price the reporter has put on the story.
4) If the goal is met, the story is done and the results shared for free under a Creative Commons license, though someone donating at least 50% of the funding gets first rights.
In other words, sort of like a lot of mini-public radio pledge drives, but without the coffee mugs. One of the first stories pitched is research leading to a radio story on the re-emergence of shanty towns in the San Francisco area. The price on it is $520. But right now at $5 and $10 a pop (Cohn contributed $25), it's slow going. I'm thinking the equilibrium point on this site is more likely to be in the $200-$300 range.
(Although DigiDave might want to have his calculator checked. While the site says $30 has been donated, it shows four people at $5, $25, $5 and $10, which, if my math doesn't fail me, adds up to $45. Another pitch on the safety of SF's beaches says $355, but lists $405.)
Cohn's concept was funded through a Knight news challenge grant. Right now, almost everything on there is from the Bay Area. It will be interesting to see how it rolls out and especially if it promotes a digital divide, with big cities being the primary pitch and fund points, or whether the concept can develop some mass in the "heartland."
Although Cohn gets to make the big splash later today, a fair amount has been written about his soft launch, if you want more details.