Fresh from Ferguson Fellowship, Beacon eyes new projects

Earlier this year, The New York Times profiled Beacon, a crowdfunding platform for journalists. The writer wondered: With all the hand-wringing in the news industry about asking readers to pay for content, would they ever sponsor a journalist?

Now, just a few months later, that question has been answered. As of this week, Beacon readers have raised $41,074 in partnership with The Huffington Post for a reporter covering the ongoing story of Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. The recipient of the funding, Mariah Stewart, has been catapulted from her job as a bra fitter at a nearby mall — she’s since put in her two weeks notice — to the front lines of a national story.

The last few months have been big for Beacon, too. Read more


David Cohn: ‘Spot.Us is no longer the best place for me’

David Cohn has decided to leave Spot.Us four months after the crowdfunded journalism site became part of American Public Media’s crowdsourcing platform, Public Insight Network. When APM took it over, Cohn had planned to stay involved in a contract role. Now, he writes on his blog:

It has come to my realization, however, that in its new form Spot.Us is no longer the best place for me. In many respects that’s perfectly fine. … With this post I’m handing full reigns of Spot.Us over to APM not just in ownership (which already happened) but in terms of direction. This change has been going on in the background for some time and now it’s official. This is me taking a bow and exiting stage left.

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Columbia Missourian turns to online donations to fund records request
The Columbia Missourian is using crowdfunding site to raise $500 for an open-records request. The newspaper sought a copy of the city of Columbia’s parking ticket records, and was told to pay $500 for an outside vendor to convert the “arcane” database into something usable. The Missourian is paying $150, and is asking supporters to pitch in the other $350 (the Missourian is owned by a nonprofit and operated by the University of Missouri School of Journalism, so money is tight). As of Friday afternoon, 53 people had raised more than $425, leaving the campaign only $75 short of the goal. Read more

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Berkeley j-school hires Spot.Us founder to research online business models

Romenesko+ Misc. | DigiDave
David Cohn, who launched community-funded reporting site Spot.Us in 2008, will be conducting research on economic models of online journalism publications and help to develop business products for supporting hyperlocal news sites. He’ll be working with three community sites run by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism:, and “These sites will be testing grounds for experimentation to aid in the research for building sustainable business models for small news websites,” says a press release. Cohn writes on his blog that he’ll “remain an active part of Spot.Us and in the coming weeks we should have some exciting news which will cement it as an ongoing business (elevated from a mere experiment) for at least another two years.” Read more


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