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Jan. 20, 2016, 10:21 a.m.
Business Models
LINK: www.journalism.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   January 20, 2016

Journalism projects seeking crowdfunding on Kickstarter pulled in about $6.3 million between 2009 and 2015, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center. That money went to 658 fully funded projects.

Journalism projects are still fairly rare on Kickstarter (and are dwarfed by categories such as film and video, gaming, and art), but the number of funded projects more than doubled between 2013 and 2014, Pew shows.

While larger media organizations, like ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, have used Kickstarter recently — and projects from such publications made up 22 percent of the funded journalism projects in the time period Pew looked at — the bulk of the funded projects (71 percent) are still coming from “individuals not tied to any journalistic organization,” either alone or in small groups, Pew found. As for those people working alone:

Single individuals accounted for more funded submissions than any other group — 43 percent over the seven-year time frame. These projects ranged from The Smokey Generation, a digital oral history of wildland firefighters, to a paleontology fieldwork memoir by a freelance science writer, multimedia reporting from Tanzania on the fate of the Kihansi spray toad, and a traveling puppet named Stevie P. offering to write postcards from Europe.

Pew also found that the most commonly funded projects on Kickstarter are “larger and longer enterprises that would not be possible without the support of independent donors”:

Among this array of formats, magazine-related projects — including the launch of new full-fledged publications, the expansion of issue-based coverage by a news magazine and standalone articles that the producers planned to pitch to existing magazines or journals — topped the list as the single most popular format, making up 20% of all funded projects in the Journalism category.

In second place were website proposals, accounting for 16 percent of funded projects:

Most of these efforts sought funds to support the online creation of news and information content, such as Media Diversified’s goal of producing an interactive directory of ethnic minority voices in the UK media landscape. A proposal to establish a multimedia website, Nuba Reports, which would provide firsthand news from Southern Sudan, was also successful, as was one by a group of citizen journalists to expand the reporting reach of Russia Insider. Others, like The Nicaragua Dispatch, turned to crowdfunding as a way of maintaining or overhauling an existing website; it asked for backers to pledge toward the cost of hiring a Web developer. In this instance, The Dispatch specifically sought to remake the site into a crowdsourcing platform.

You can read the full report here.

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