In our blog, weve talked several times about cases of journalism financed with crowdfunding. And while it’s true that there are success stories, the journalistic work lacks the popularity that is sometimes attributed to it. But why does this happen? There’s a good explanation and today you’ll get to know it.

Journalism in crowdfunding: A little-known cause

It’s not necessarily little known per se, but in the general world of crowdfunding it is. As we said before, there are successful journalism campaigns and only some are more or less memorable. And also according to a MediaShift article, more than 75% of journalism campaigns fail to raise their goals. As if this wasn’t discouraging enough, there’s more evidence that shows the unpopularity of journalism.

In the aforementioned article, it’s mentioned that several crowdfunding platforms focused on journalistic causes had to shut down. Between the years 2013 and 2016 as far as is known. Some of them included platforms such as Indie Voices, Spot.Us, Vourno, Contributoria, Emphas.is, among others. But perhaps the most well-known case was that of Beacon, a prestigious journalism crowdfunding platform that closed.

beacon crowdfunding campaigns
Many journalists from various prestigious newspapers around the world created crowdfunding campaigns in Beacon. And in 2015, the platform managed to raise more than $1.5 million in campaigns. Source: American Journalism Review

Khari Johnson, founder and editor of the newspaper journalism ventures Through the Cracks, said something about it. That this “maybe is evidence that a [crowdfunding] platform that focuses solely on journalism cannot survive” (…). Which would be logically true if we take into account that any crowdfunding platform needs a broad community.

However, there are other reasons that compromise journalism financed with crowdfunding. Among them several problems and controversies that have been generated as a result. Some are mentioned in the book “Crowdfunding independent and freelance journalism: Negotiating journalistic norms of autonomy and objectivity”. Written by Andrea Hunter in 2014. Which explains that there may be “conflicts of interest”.

Last conclusions

Clearly, there are certain disadvantages of financing journalistic projects with crowdfunding. To avoid mixing contributors and journalists, some platforms placed a contribution limit. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why many journalistic crowdfunding platforms ended up being closed. However, what will happen to funded journalism? Will it still be valid?

Nieman, a website and print publication where journalism is discussed, published an article on the subject in 2016. In said article, they talk about certain aspects that determine if a crowdfunding journalism campaign will be successful. Among them, is that a journalist must show that their work is more important than money. And this work should be focused on the public, the readers and their interests.

success crowdfunding campaigns journalism
According to MediaShift, crowdfunding campaigns that meet these conditions have attracted hundreds of contributors. Allowing financing of various projects. Source: FIPP.com

Inside the article is a very interesting phrase. Which expresses the following: “Journalism is just one of the many industries in which crowdfunding presents an Internet solution to the problems caused by the Internet.” This refers to the decline suffered by some newspapers and media during the arrival of the Internet in the 90s. Something that we explained in a past entry.

Be that as it may, despite the demise of news media crowdfunding platforms, not everything is lost. Khari Johnson insists that crowdfunding-funded journalism will continue to be viable in the future. In most traditional crowdfunding platforms, the financing of newspaper campaigns is still allowed. Although still under the various disadvantages that this implies.

crinkling news campaign indiegogo
In 2017, an Australian newspaper for children and teenagers called Crinkling News ran a crowdfunding campaign in 2017. In order to avoid having to close, it’s worth noting that they managed to reach the goal. Source: Twitter

Despite the bad signs, there’s no need to look sadly at funded journalism. Thanks to crowdfunding, a considerable number of newspapers, media and journalists managed to do incredible works. Many of them also managed to save themselves from having to close due to economic problems. Although still, journalism continues to be an unpopular cause on crowdfunding platforms.

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Will there be more journalism financed with crowdfunding?