Writing for the Seattle-based tech blog, TechFlash, John Cook announced that the experimental community founded journalism website Spot.Us intends to launch a Seattle site.
Spot.Us is one of the many new community based journalism initiatives that have popped up in the wake of the media crisis. Some might draw comparisons to other journalistic startups such as EveryBlock and AOL's Patch.org but a significant difference exists. Spot.Us is unique in that it allows journalists to submit a story idea to a community forum. If community members are interested in the story idea they can donate money to support the journalists efforts. In contrast, EveryBlock and Patch.org hire local journalists to report on a community level while also providing an online forum for community members interact with each other.
First created by David Cohn in San Francisco with support from the Knight Foundation, the website spread south to Los Angeles before moving to Seattle. Cohn and Spot.Us gained an incredible amount of attention after one the websites articles was picked up by The New York Times and then became one of the most emailed articles for a week.
Rather than create a new news organization, Cohn stated on his blog that he intents to "build a platform" for "freelancers to pitch the world (editors and the public) in one fell swoop" while also giving "the community...a say in what news gets covered." . In a recent interview at SXSW, Cohn stated that he is now looking into local community advertisers as a possible source of funding.
The expansion of Spot.Us is representative of the growing role that non-traditional media outlets play in producing journalism. The award winning investigative journalism organization ProPubilca is one of the most notable and successful pioneers of this new media landscape.
Described in Cook's post as "a marketplace for story ideas," Spot.Us represents an incredibly unique addition to the world of journalism that gives the public an opportunity to fund story ideas that are important and relevant to them. Some of story ideas recently posted on Seattle's Spot.Us are a reflection of topics important to the industry, such as an investigation into the environmental impact of cruise ships in the local economy.
Although the site is still relatively unknown in Seattle, the activity from participants in other cities combined with the city's active hyper-local blogosphere may well make it a success.
Spot.us founder David Cohn will be speaking at the 17th World Editors Forum to be held in Beirut, Lebanon in June. For more information about the World Editors Forum and the 63rd World Newspaper Congress please see www.wanlebanon2010.com