New Journalism Looks to New Fundraising
23 September 2010 at 3:07 pm
Australia's first foray into people powered journalism, funded by a philanthropic Foundation, says early success means its attention is now turned to long term funding.
The Public Interest Journalism Foundation (PIJ Foundation) was founded in 2009 to promote and enable innovation in public interest journalism and its first project, YouCommNews, had a successful launch at the recent New News Conference 2010 in Melbourne.
YouCommNews, described as a people-powered news site, was established with the help of grants from the Victorian Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, funding from the ARC funded Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation and philanthropic support from Foundation sponsor, the Financial and Energy Exchange Group.
The founders of the PIJ Foundation are Health Journalist, Melissa Sweet and Swinburne’s convenor of journalism, and now Foundation chair, Margaret Simons.
According to its website, YouCommNews uses the internet to crowd-source ideas and resources for high quality, community driven journalism allowing members of the public to commission the stories they want investigated.
Story ideas are "pitched" on the site and anyone can then pledge funds to support the projects.
The resulting stories are then available for publication in mainstream, independent and online media, either freely or through the sale of publication rights, in which case, the site says there will be refunds to those who funded the journalism.
Foundation Chair Margaret Simons says the new journalism model has had a great deal of interest from both journalists and government with the Victorian Government being especially far sighted in providing project-based funding.
Simons say the Foundation is just beginning to look at philanthropic funding, having so far received support from the Financial and Energy Exchange Group and its CEO Brian Price.
She says while the projects are currently holding their own in terms of funding, plans for a Foundation Resource Centre need significant funds.
She says the Foundation is now looking for capacity building funding which will enable it to hire a full time staff member.
While the Foundation has been making extremely good use of the current funding of $100,000 over three years, Simons says funding of $1 million dollars over three years would provide a resource that would make a significant difference to journalism in Australia. Donations to the Foundation are tax deductible.
The concept of 'community powered reporting' funded through Not for Profit organisations is being explored in the US and elsewhere using a variety of models.
One of the pioneering 'crowd funded' journalism projects in the US is Spot.Us, a Not for Profit project of the Center for Media Change and funded by various groups like the Knight Foundation, partnering with organisations including the Annenberg School of Communications in Los Angeles.
Through Spot.Us the public can commission and participate with journalists to do reporting on what it describes as important and perhaps overlooked topics. Contributions are also tax deductible.
The Public Record (TPR) is a California-based Not for Profit providing news reports through a program of the International Humanities Center. As well, the Nieman Journalism Lab (NJL) is an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in the internet age.
The NJL says the internet has brought forth an unprecedented flowering of news and information, but it has also destabilised the old business models that have supported quality journalism for decades.
It says its mission is to help reporters and editors adjust to their online labours and to help traditional news organisations find a way to survive
The PIJ Foundation in Australia says it is keen to hear from any philanthropic supporters or anyone able to help with fundraising on a pro bono basis.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Tara Peck, Project officer by phone on 03 9214 5239.