Daily question: Pay to read?

For about $250 you can get the New York Times print edition home delivered daily for a year. That will get you thousands of stories, facts, stats, pictures and so on.

Or for the same $250 you can join several other people to fund the research and reporting of 10 suggested stories you’d like to read.

An upcoming “networked journalism” service from spot.us is simple in principle: anyone can submit story ideas, journalist can pitch stories they want to cover, anyone can pledge and donate money, and if the story gets enough funding, it will be reported and published for all to read. It’s an open marketplace of ideas that can be turned into journalistic coverage that otherwise would go unnoticed or under-reported. That’s the idea:



By November 2009, will spot.us still exist?

4 thoughts on “Daily question: Pay to read?

  1. Digidave: ““commissioning” articles via spot.us from existing newspapers”

    There are two issues here, beyond revenue: generation and distribution of news. We do have an issue of MSM not being able to adequately spot (pun intended) news, trends, issues, etc. IOW, spot.us can be in a better/interesting position to generate leads and editorial direction for category of stories not covered by MSM through indicated pledges/donations that “validate” stories which MSM couldn’t otherwise “justify.” (My readers here, for example, routinely suggest to me subjects to cover which I otherwise would likely miss.)

    Also, MSM does represent an already established vehicle of distribution which spot.us can and should exploit. MSM editors often complain about having story ideas that they can’t pursue due to lack of staff or resources. So let them commission them from spot.us, at low cost and/or partially deferred by donations. MSM shouldn’t have to see spot.us as competition, as they might, but perhaps as “subcontractors” they can reliably rely on.

    I don’t think you’d disagree with any of this. It’s more of a positioning issue, hopefully made more explicit.

  2. I’d like to see you address the notion of “commissioning” articles via spot.us from existing newspapers.

    Not 100% sure I understand what you mean. But I’ll add this: there is a way for local newspapers to work WITH spot.us to stretch their own freelance budget.

    If they work with freelancers (and most newspapers do) they can get the community to fund half of a pitch and they can fund the other half and publish the final content (and have a built in audience of people that are passionate about the story.. since they helped to fund it and make it happen).


  3. Digidave: “We have funding for another 1.5 years.”

    David, first I’d like congratulate you on going public today. Best luck with spot.us.

    In your write-up, you highlight The Problem as “Revenue” and The Solution as “Community Funding.”

    The reason I contrasted spot.us with the Times above is that there is a difference between the proposition of the Times asking its readers to directly contribute to stories it may run and the proposition of an unknown start-up asking an amorphous community to contribute money to coverage by unknown writers under an unknown editorial trajectory. For $250 you get the Times delivered daily, for the same amount you may get 10 stories you’d like to see covered. On a national scale, this is a tough value proposition.

    “The real question is if many of the local newspapers will still be around.”

    For local coverage, I think you’re more likely to see success for investigative stories that can be successfully handled for $500-$1,000. Whether there’s sufficient discretionary spending available in those communities not vibrant enough to have newspapers is debatable.

    I’d like to see you address the notion of “commissioning” articles via spot.us from existing newspapers.

  4. I can answer that question right now. Yes.

    We have funding for another 1.5 years.

    The real question is if many of the local newspapers will still be around.

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