Community Funded Reporting

This week Ruby and I went to two conferences in Minneapolis. The first one done in Open Space / Unconference style was New Pamphleteers/New Reporters:Convening Entrepreneurs Who Combine Journalism, Democracy, Place and Blogs at the University of Minnesota. (What a long name huh?)

One of the best ideas I heard this week was Spot.us.

“Spot Us” is a nonprofit that allows an individual or group to take control of news in their community by sharing the cost (crowdfunding) to commission freelance journalists to write important, or uncovered news stories.

Dave Cohn is behind this idea and he explained it to us via Skype. I was amazed at how few people where in this mini-session. Because it feels like a real innovation that could answer the burning question on every corporate journalist and CEOs mind, “How do we make money making journalism so we can get it done?”.

But the big difference between this idea, as I see it, and how media CEOs do is that this is about direct funding to individual journalist not organizations or corporations. Yet another middle man removed from the process of making media and protecting our democracy. But I don’t think the corporate media folks at this conference had thought about this that much. There were just too many competing sessions. Their loss.

I’ll be paying close attention to how Spot.us progresses. Dave plans to roll this service out to the Bay Area first then other communities one at a time. Sounds like a good plan. It worked for Graig’s List.

Media Ignores Pentagon's Lies

Since the New York Times published the story Behind Military Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand media like CNN, Fox News, and others have completely ignored this serious scandal. Watch this great video from Matt Thompson of FreePress.net about how our main stream American media really isn’t on our side. (Video via The Uptake.)

Update Turns out the Pentagon’s actions aren’t just unethical… they’re illegal!

myncCamp – TV Station does a BarCamp

Before BarCamp RDU gets here there is another event with a serious Bay Area guest. Its called myncCamp and its sponsored by NBC17. (Get more info on the myncCamp wiki.) They have a new portal website called mync.com. The station is soliciting input and is going about it in a very cool way. By holding a barcamp style meeting. Plus the very smart and inspirational Tara Hunt is coming to NC!

The point of myncCamp is to get the members of the local RDU area (and beyond…everyone is welcome) to discuss what they are working on and what NBC-17 could do better for the community at large. We will discuss anything you think is pertinent to helping the experience of living in NC even more awesome.

Some helpful areas may be to look at how other hubs of community around the US are gelling. Could NBC-17 help out with that? Perhaps you are working on something cool like Coworking or a startup that may be able to partner up? Whatever it is, we’d love to have you come out and share. If nothing else, it will be an awesome day to just get to know one another better.

I’m impressed for a few reasons. One is inviting Tara Hunt to help. She’s been very inspirational to me. It was the work of her and others that got me interested in coworking. Their office Citizen Space has really influenced me. They are a big reason I started Carrboro Coworking. I am so very grateful to her. Plus she has a interesting new book called The Whuffie Factor that’s about to come out. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Another reason is because Wayne Stutton is involved. He works for NBC17 and has done great things with local new media journalism at the Local Conversations blog. The station really took a step in the right direction when they hired Wayne and other community content managers. Its built major community trust I think.

update: I honestly don’t know how this event will be conducted. Barcamp style? unconference style? traditional event style?