Crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular way to seek support for a wide variety of projects in fields which are not traditionally thought of as areas where crowdfunding would prove effective.
Kickstarter funded 658 projects
One such area is journalism. According to a Pew Research Center report, between 2009 and 2015 there were 658 journalism-related projects proposed on Kickstarter that raised some $6.3 million.
These totals – both regarding the number of projects and funds raised – trail nearly all of Kickstarter’s other funding categories, from music, theater, and film to technology and games. Nevertheless, the number of funded journalism projects has seen an ongoing increase over time and includes a growing number of proposals from established media organizations. — Pew Research Center Report
The most popular project types were magazines, which represented 20% of funded projects with websites second at 16%. Websites generated the greatest financial support, accounting for 29% of the total funds committed. In 2015, some 25,651 people contributed to journalism projects.
Journalism drives social change
Journalism has become a powerful tool in driving social change as the number of independent websites has exploded in recent years. With the increased reliance on social media to access information, it has become much easier for an obscure website or blog to attract widespread attention.
Newspapers are a dying industry
The way that people get their news has undergone a sea change in the past two decades. Print news has fallen dramatically to the point where now only 20% of Americans get their news from a newspaper. Numerous newspapers have gone out of business or filed for bankruptcy. As readership has fallen so has the share of advertising dollars, leading to a double whammy for the industry. Cost cutting has become widespread, and many journalists have lost their jobs. There is even a website – Newspaper Death Watch – that tracks the decline of the industry.
In 2016, Americans express a clear preference for getting their news on a screen – though which screen that is varies. TV remains the dominant screen, followed by digital. Still, TV news use is dramatically lower among younger adults, suggesting further shake-ups to come. — Pew Research Report
A Dutch platform De Correspondent raised $1.7 million dollars in 2013 attracting 18,933 crowdfunding backers. Out of their experience, they wrote a guide to journalism crowdfunding that outlined the key ingredients for a successful campaign. A key takeaway from their experience is that it’s critical to “start a movement, not a publication.”
Crowdfunding site for journalistic projects
There are several sites that are solely devoted to crowdfunding for journalistic projects. The most widely referenced one is Beacon. For example, a recent project on Beacon was proposed by NJ Spotlight and titled, In the Shadow of Liberty: New Jersey Immigration. The project goal was $30,000 and in 30 days the project raised $31,360.
Not all projects will as successful as the one by NJ Spotlight, but crowdfunding offers a new and innovative way for one of the world’s oldest professions to stay in business.