Who pays for the news stories?

A new way to give people the news stories they want to see is being tried by a group of journalists. The model, as described in a N.Y. Times news story today, is called Crowdfunding. It’s a model pioneered by Howard Dean in collecting money for political campaigns. Anyone can suggest a story that ought to be covered, a group of editors choose the ones of greatest interest, and individuals are asked to contribute small amounts of money until enough is collected to fund an investigative journalist. As often happens, San Francisco is at the leading edge of this trend with a website called Spot.us started by 26-year-old web journalist, David Cohn. If this trend catches on, we may be able to read about a variety of local issues that have not been covered,or covered sufficiently, by local media. There are obvious dangers, especially the possibility that small groups of enthusiasts will encourage biased reporting on various issues, but if journalistic standards are maintained, it could offer great benefits. The idea is that with many small donations, big interests will not be able to influence reporting. Concerned citizens will want to keep an eye on this latest development in news reporting and see whether it fulfils the promises.

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