Wasn’t planning to post anything this week. But am in an Old Town Kopitam, a local coffee shop franchise that is giving Starbucks a run for its money, there is free wi-fi and this story poses so much possibility for Indonesia that I thought what the heck.
Indonesian businesses would do well to look at the business model below and think if they can invest in something like this. Most of the time they moan and groan about how bad the local media is, how little investigation and fact checking they do, how many times they get the facts wrong. Well the implications of New Media is that you, not only individuals and the netrati can benefit from the economies of the Web.
This is especially so when the local media are so cash strapped that they cannot hire enough good and competent journalists, let alone the ones capable of investigating issues.
Why not then invest in an outfit, which must have independent editorial control to preserve credibility, to investigate the institutions and issues they are concern to them?
The mining industry could underwrite an investigative piece on the ramifications of the new mining law, various affected businesses could commission a piece on the KPPU etc etc. All investments and sponsorships would have to be disclosed, of course, so that thenpublic can judge for themselves whether the information presented is kosher.
Spot.us is a non-profit startup which distributes the cost of hiring a journalist across a community of people. Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Spot.us has already funded stories where journalists have investigated things like the local police department, poverty issues, and city budgetary issues.
After a story is funded and the final copy is turned in, Spot.us will try to sell the first publishing rights. If that happens, then any money they make goes back to the original donors so they can reinvest in another story. If Spot.us is not able to sell the first publishing rights, they will then release the story under Creative Commons so anyone can publish it.
Spot.us is currently funded through a grant, but they also ask the community to donate an additional $2 when funding a particular story. This money goes to the organization itself and will hopefully allow it to expand to other cities. But, if you don’t want to wait for Spot.us to come to your town, you can start your own version instead. The Spot.us code is open source, so you could launch a site like this for your own community.
In the end, what David Cohn hopes to prove is that, indeed, “journalism will survive the death of its institutions.” With Spot.us, he shows us that there is another way to keep the industry alive, even after the papers fail.