Media entrepreneur David Cohn presented his non-profit community-funded journalism site Spot.Us at the 17th World Editors Forum in Hamburg in a session on how to monetise journalism. H said that network reporting was a good area to experiment in, because it is "cheaper and easier."
The concept of this community-funded "news platform" (rather than news outlet) Spot.Us is that members of the public can donate money on the topics that he wants to be covered, when the sufficient amount of money has been provided by readers, a reporter is commissioned to write an article about this.
The great advantage of this project, Cohn said, is that a journalist is writing not for an editor, but for the public itself, and therefore the journalists have more of a sense of responsibility to the audience.This is also part of the attraction to readers: Cohn compared the standard news organisation model to "If you walked into a restaurant and were told what you were to eat;" he believes "you would walk right out." While at Spot.Us, the reader has control over what stories they can see written.
Cohn also spoke about a new revenue stream which he said he was particularly excited: community-focused advertising. "For instance, AARP - they gave us a survey. They want to get a feed-back from our community and when someone takes the survey they get $6 to spend on our site."
Although Cohn was clear that his revenue stream was not enough to sustain an entire organisation, he said that this wasn't the most important question, rather: "how can I utilize Spot.us in conjunction with something?"
"I wasn't sure if the public or news organisations would be interested," he continued. "It's an experiment - I want to evangelize people to try things. If not we're sitting on our hands when this is the last thing we should be doing," he concluded.