Seriously, I have had at least three (maybe four?) great ideas for documentaries I always wanted to produce but I was never able to afford to go that far, let alone go that far and hire a professional team and buy/rent professional equipment. So, what becomes obvious quite quickly: I never had enough money to produce that one great documentary I always wanted to make (and that one great documentary you’ve always been waiting for – I promise :)).
This is where spot.us comes in. Spot.us, an open-source, non-profit project funded by e.g. the Knight Foundation and devoted to “community powered reporting“,was founded by David Cohn, a Columbia Journalism Scool grad I recently saw on the AJStream. The board of advisors includes e.g. Dan Gillmor, Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, and Jennifer 8. Lee.
How does it work?
On Spot.us, people can have different roles. You can LogIn via Facebook Connect and become a member of the community. Citizens can suggest a story that they find important or interesting. Journalists, on the other hand, can actually submit a pitch. These pitches can be inspired by the citizens’ suggested stories but don’t have to. Once you publish your pitch, there is a reporter’s agreement and private contributors or publishing partners can start funding your project. So far, there are over 10,000 contributors and over 100 publishing partners. You can start browsing through stories pitched by topic (e.g. Race and Demographics, Consumer Protection and Public Health) and you can see stories that are almost fully funded. When a story has been funded, you can even get further involved by donating talent, you can take photos and help report the story.
Important and untold stories
What I love about the idea of spot.us is not only that you can get your ideas funded. I think it is much more than that! The idea of citizen journalism is not new but I think Spot.us takes it to another level by allowing people to come together to create new ideas and go through the whole production process without once having to go outside of the community platform. You can find ideas, stories, contributors and potential donators on that platform.
The Tao Of Journalism
Spot.us practices The Tao Of Journalism. I have never heard of it, so I had to look it up and this is what I’ve learned. The Tao of Journalism Pledge that you can take basically means that you agree to three very simple rules:
- Transparency (disclose who we are, your journalistic mission and your guiding principles)
- Accountability (If we get any facts wrong, we will admit that promptly and publicly)
- Openness (we will be open to contrary positions)
So, tell me about your story, pitch it to Spot.us and I might donate :)