About five years ago, I read a very interesting book called Good Work. It is very dense with a lot of information but it was very clear in its premise. We are happiest when the work we do aligns with our personal ethics.
in this book, the authors examined two groups of people who chose a vocation because they wanted to help others and to change the world: geneticists and journalists.
Many people entered each field for noble reasons. But only the scientists were happy with their choice, while many of the reporters were not. The book indicated that this was because the needs of the industry they chose did not match their personal viewpoints.
The geneticists were pretty happy with their jobs. Journalists were not.
The book indicated that newspapers exist to sell advertising. Advertising is what pays the bills. But this is often at odds with the reasons many journalists enter that profession.
Many reporters who really wanted to provide vital information were often held back while those who helped sell newspapers were rewarded.
Well, it looks like Web 2.0 approaches are providing an outlet for journalists to earn a living while staying close to their own personal ethics – by going directly to the community. Spot.us is devoted to providing journalists an alternate way to get paid.
And here is a recent post describing some of the things a journalist would have to do to get community funding for reporting.
I’ll admit it, sometimes when nobody is looking I’ll watch a late night infomercial. These people are fascinating to watch. They are master salespeople.
I realize the idea of a journalist fundraising money for their work is new. Normally it’s a duty we’d hand off to the advertising/marketing people and stick to creating content. But “the times they are-a changing” and so is the job description. There is a reason why freelance journalists have to write a “pitch.” They are selling their services. Normally we sell to high-end repeat customers (editors) because they have a freelance budget. But Spot.Us believes that journalists should pitch the public and that if members of the public band together they too can have a freelance budget.
Rather than treat journalists fundraising as taboo, we should have a healthy discussion about the right and wrong approach. I don’t claim to know the answers, so your comments are valued.
This is something that will be worked out as they go along. I don’t think it is going to replace the mainstream media. But it is a novel approach and will heavily use Web 2.0 approaches for success.
What are the best practices? Are they different for text and video? How can journalists best explain the value of their services? I don’t claim to know the answers to these questions (so your comments are highly valued), but I do think these questions need to be tackled. If journalists are going to become more independent, they need to learn how to re-master the art of the pitch.
The list below is my own and I think will evolve over time.
10 Things to Keep in Mind To Get Community Funded Reporting
The list is actually a nice one for anyone working to earn a living by using Web 2.0 conversations. Creating a pitch. Finding the community.
The one thing the web can not duplicate is a human being. Going directly to their audience is a way that journalists can earn a living that more closely aligns with their ethics, just like recording artists and filmmakers are doing.