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David Cohn, the founder of

Spot.Us was a non-profit organization designed to bring citizens, journalists, and news publishers together in an online marketplace based on crowdsourcing and crowdfunding methods and principles. It was founded in 2008 by David Cohn, who [1] received a $340,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to pursue his idea. In November 2011 it was bought by American Public Media.[2] They hosted the site for a time, but were unable to maintain it. It was retired February 2015.[3]

While providing a new option for funding journalism, it raised questions about activism and new sorts of conflict of interest.[4][5]

Spot.Us originally focused on projects in the San Francisco Bay area, where it was headquartered. It expanded to Los Angeles in 2009.[6]

Method of operation[edit]

Stories began as tips from the public giving an issue they would like to see covered, or pitches from a journalist to create a story, including the amount of money needed. Visitors to the website could then donate to fund the pitch.

Smaller stories cost a couple hundred dollars to fund, while the largest cost about one thousand dollars. Completed stories were available under a Creative Commons license. They could be viewed for free on the website and used free of charge by news organizations. News organizations that wished to gain temporary copyright of articles might do so by contributing over 50 percent of the funding.

Conflicts of interest for journalists[edit]

Conflicts of interest around arose due to the fact that readers were funding journalists' work. Because of this, journalists may have felt that they had to cater to their donors or they felt a "strong connection with the people that donated to them." This allows for an altered relationship between journalists and readers. It may also affect the way that the news is covered and compromise journalistic objectivity. Like other crowdfunding platforms, using meant that journalists were directly involved with marketing and finances. This means that journalistic independence may also be compromised.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2008-12-21.
  2. ^ " About us". Archived from the original on 2011-12-30.
  3. ^ " is going away, but its legacy inspires new chapters of crowdfunding playbook". Archived from the original on 2015-02-14.
  4. ^ "Crowd Funding - A Different Way to Pay for the News You Want". New York Times. 2008-08-23. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
  5. ^ "Spot.Us Lessons: Journalists Work in, and For, the Public". PBS MediaShift. 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
  6. ^ "How Spot.Us could help save journalism". Christian Science Monitor. 2009-09-23. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
  7. ^ Hunter, Andrea (February 2015). "Crowdfunding independent and freelance journalism: Negotiating journalistic norms of autonomy and objectivity". New Media & Society. 17 (2): 272–288. doi:10.1177/1461444814558915. S2CID 21039809.

External links[edit]

  • Spot.Us
  • Nieman Journalism Lab. "". Encyclo: an encyclopedia of the future of news. Retrieved 1 April 2012.