crowdfundingAs news organizations cut staff and more freelance reporters and writers are expected to foot the bill for their expenses, a new media model is developing. Writers are turning to crowdfunding to raise the money needed to develop stories, and publishers are turning to crowdsourcing to generate the quality content they need to publish on their websites.

In the past few years, both crowdfunding journalism and crowdsourcing journalism have grown in use and acceptance, and both might become standard operating procedures for reporters and publishers that want to produce in-depth, quality stories and content in the future.

The Rise of Crowdfunding Journalism

Eric Mark Do of MediaShift put together a fantastic write up about crowdfunding journalism that is a must-read for anyone new to the concept. He explains that journalists are turning to sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Spot.us to ask the general public to donate money to fund specific stories and investigations. Reporters are finding most donations are coming from contributors in the 25-30 age range and are typically between $5-$10. However, it’s not unusual to receive one or more larger donations from individuals who truly support the journalist’s mission in writing the story.

Others are leaving out the middleman and developing crowdfunding projects directly on their websites where they sell “fellowships” funded by readers that enable reporters to cover specific stories in depth.

Currently, crowdfunding journalism has been most successful for reporters who already have large followings online or have ways to spread the word to large numbers of people online. However, having a built-in audience isn’t a requirement to success. Check out Eric’s article by following the link above and you’ll find a number of tips to create successful crowdfunding campaigns.

The Shift to Crowdsourcing Journalism

In recent years, websites like Crowdspring and 99Designs have pioneered the design crowdsourcing industry. Both sites have added additional services beyond graphic design since they launched, and this month, Freelancer.com jumped on board with the launch of its own crowdsourcing feature that enables anyone to crowdsource any job from all of its 600 job categories.

With the Freelancer.com crowdsourcing feature, publishers in need of content, including journalistic content, can create a contest outlining what is needed, and freelancers can submit entries. The winner will receive the prize payment in a manner similar to how other popular crowdsourcing sites work. According to Freelancer.com, contests typically start at $30 and most are under $500, but there are larger-scale contests as well.

Crowdfunding journalism and crowdsourcing journalism are just two examples of the evolution of journalism to the new media business model. However, they’re surely not the last. The big questions are what will come next, and how fast will it get here? What do you think?

Image: Svilen Milev