I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about media models, and the plight of journalism thanks to my job. I was driving home the other day, listening to NPR pledge drives, and one of my favorite local hosts mentioned that his NPR station is one of the rare places in today’s media marketplaces that isn’t cutting back, and is actually adding programming. That got me thinking.
People obviously do value good journalism, because lets face it, NPR is one of the last bastions of good reporting. Listeners voluntarily give money to support the kind of unbiased, in-depth reporting they appreciate–so much so that in a time when everyone else is laying off Connecticut’s WNPR is actually able to expand.
This made me think of a website I wrote about recently: Spot.us. Basically, community members can suggest story ideas, then reporters can put together a pitch, and if enough people in the community are willing to support it through donations, the story gets made. In some cases, the stories even get purchased by media outlets. Originally, I wasn’t sure if this had a real chance of success, but when I start thinking about it in terms of other forms of publically funded broadcasting, it seems like there just might be a chance. Of course NPR has a reputation, and the benefit of decades of experience, so all an organization like Spot.us has to do is get some more exposure and the kind of loyal users that NPR has.