The emerging business model of news organizations is the paywall. Everyone is talking about it.
People pay to have access to part (or the entirety) of a news website. But what if readers were not paying to read an already written story but rather to send a journalist report on something they want to know about?
Want to know what kind of tear gas is being used by the police? (This is a totally random example.)
Well, you can pitch the story to the news team who will determine how much it would cost to cover it (depending on where it is happening, how long it would take, how many reporters are needed, …). Then the readers can chip in for the story to be covered.
If you have a monthly subscription, you get, say, 100 credits per day that you can split between several stories or put everything on the same one. You can also buy additional credits if you really care about a story. When the funding is complete the story is assigned. All subscribers can access the story and if they decide it is of public interest they can even vote to make the story available to everyone. Kind of like a patronage.
The more people chip in, the more resources is allocated to the story.
I got the idea of this concept with OpenFile and Kickstarter, two disruptive organizations I really like.
OpenFile is exploring the concept of curated community news. People suggest stories, once they’re published anyone can add to it: new data, photo, related story, … Great stuff.
Kickstarter is a « funding platform for creative projects ». Artists can present their project. Depending on how much you pledge you also get prizes related to the project: a DVD, your name in the credits, coffee with the artist, etc.
Journalists are great at pitching
Don’t get me wrong, in no way do I think this could nor should become the new general business model for journalism.
We need journalists to go to City Hall meetings and sit through hours of boring never-ending Committee of Finance meetings. You might say « no one cares » and you’d be right 95% of the time but when something wacky comes up, someone who knows what’s going on will be there and will report on it.
The journalist should also be able to report on something he or she believes is important. For instance if they obtained confidential information suggesting that a corruption case has been silenced.
Sometimes no one should know that reporting is in progress.
Can you think of other ways of improving my concept?