Will the public fund reporting? Spot Us thinks so

Recently, the question of how much do people really care about their local media has frequently crossed my mind. If, for example, GateHouse Media was liquidated, would any private members of the public come forward to buy some of the papers?

Well, three organizations are putting that notion to the test, sort of. Spot Us, Newsdesk.org and the San Francisco Public Press are working together to raise funds so that Newsdesk and The Public Press can produce coverage of political ads. Yet the project will only happen if people donate a total of $2,500 via Spot Us.

Description: It’s election season, and your brain is the target of one of the highest-stakes, most expensive influence campaigns in the world. What’s the quality of the information you’re getting? Where can you turn for a non-politicized breakdown of the facts, issues and money behind those election advertisements? Not just for the grand-scale national races, but at the local level? Newsdesk.org and The Public Press are teaming up with Spot.Us to connect you with the answers.

Outcome: Increased voter awareness in San Francisco, through investigative coverage and fact-checking of local political advertisements (mail, Internet and broadcast), and the issues and money behind them. We plan on targeting a few specific issues and expanding our coverage opportunistically.

So far, $717 has been raised, according to Spot Us’ blog post today. It shows that at least some people do care about journalism. Yet not enough. I think this is a fascinating idea but don’t exactly understand how it works. Spot Us doesn’t match the money. And how did they decide on $2,500?

Spot Us is an organization that has a 4-step process to getting out news. 1) A reporter comes up with a story that’s not being told in a community; 2) Community members vote, with their money, on what stories they think are most important; 3) Journalist puts together article; editors fact-check and copy edit; 4) Spot Us sends it to local media outlets and puts it up on its web feed.

The idea here is amazing. News is definitely hyper-local and people are getting the news they care about. Of course the cons are that if you don’t have the money to vote, then your vote doesn’t count. Doesn’t that makes it rather unfair? I would say yes. Once again, having money pays. But that shouldn’t be what determines news. So is this system flawed from the start?

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Are there any people from San Francisco out there who know about this project? What do you think about it?

[Via BuzzMachine]


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