Nighttime in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Roberto Taddeo.

A World Record Week for Crowdfunding Journalism

Spot.us was officially shelved this week. It was a crowdfunding journalism trailblazer that had been inactive for years but its proof of concept leaves a legacy (and plenty of data worth considering that we’ll get into next week on throughcracks.com). A report on the lower than average success rate of crowdfunding campaigns initiated by journalist accompanied the news.

It’s sad I suppose, part of a week of sad news in journalism, but there is a load of good news to counterbalance a negative narrative. We know (two editors, four contributors at Through the Cracks: Crowdfunding in Journalism) because we monitor and write about crowdfunding in journalism every week.

The big one: El Español broke the world record in crowdfunding Saturday, bringing in 1.39 million euros. The campaign has another 13 days to go.

Funny that the crowdfunding world record was broken days after the death of Spot.us.

El Español is one of three crowdfunding journalism campaigns that have successfully raised more than one million euros since 2013. In each instance, the news outlet barely existed on paper and had published few stories or no stories at all.

It is the second European news website, Direkt36 in Hungary being the other, to secure substantial funding for journalism in the last two weeks.

Other awesome news in crowdfunding journalism this week:

  • Back in the United States, Massively Overpowered, a niche gaming journalism website brought in $50,000 in less than two days to meet their goal on Kickstarter. Employees of Joystiq at massively.com were laid off Feb. 3. Instead of going their separate ways they made Massively Overpowered and were back online at massivelyop.net in a little over a week. In quasi-Hunger Games style, they were slated to die but were saved by the crowd. A very similar story played out last month for an alternative weekly in Knoxville, TN.
  • A few months after finishing their crowdfunding campaign, Latterly Magazine has established partnerships with Newsweek and the French magazine Ulyces. They got tripped up with a pretty serious subscription service issue this week but continue.
  • Texas Tribune raised $3,000 in three days to investigate part of south Texas that has been without clean drinking water for decades. It was their second campaign and their first one-week campaign.
  • Ideal Impact’s idea to add a solution and call to action to every news article hit their funding goal on Indiegogo (look for a story about Ideal Impact and its founder Olivier Kamanda on throughcracks.com tomorrow).

Finally, new contributor Alexandra Meleán interviewed Dana Scruggs this week.

She’s an independent fashion photographer who likes taking mens fashion pictures on racket ball courts in Brooklyn and she’s busy getting the first issue of Scruggs Magazine in order. Her campaign ended two weeks ago and brought in more than $12,000. It’s not a world record but it’s noteworthy in understanding that it is possible for someone in her position to get the seed money to publish her magazine and bring her vision into the world.

El Español made it a special week but crowdfunding makes a way for news startups all the time, so in a lot of respects it’s just another week.

We don’t buy into the idea that crowdfunding is here to save journalism. Some might but that may not be the norm. We do buy into the idea that crowdfunding has a great potential, one that does not seem fully realized.

As Mark Glaser from PBS MediaShift said in an #EdShift chat a while back: