Local news is dying
Local news reporting is dying right before our eyes and it’s starting to feel like nobody is going to do anything about it. According to the Knight Foundation’s report, The Expanding News Desert:
- The United States has lost almost 1,800 papers since 2004, including more than 60 dailies and 1,700 weeklies.
- There are almost 200 of the 3,143 counties in the United States without any paper.
- Fewer than a dozen cities of any size have two competing dailies.
And being replaced by social media
If local news organizations are shrinking, then where are people going? To Facebook? Evidently, yes. See Pew Research Center’s Social media outpaces print newspapers in the U.S. as a news source:
The answer is to put media ownership in the hands of people
People are generally disengaged from news and politics because they don’t have a seat at the table. They’re not part of the ‘editorial board’ of any paper or news organization. They have no control over what gets covered. All the power lies in the hands of the editor — more likely the publisher.
This is the new journalism
The new model is essentially crowdsourcing. Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe have scaled to the big leagues by allowing anyone to raise funds for a specific project or cause. It’s time that came to journalism. Here’s what we propose:
- A citizen has an interest in a certain news story being covered.
- He/she goes to coverthis.news to create a campaign to get that story covered.
- They fill out basic info and then launch the campaign.
- CoverThis sets the goal of basic stories costing $750 to create.
- The campaign creator and CoverThis spread the word — seeking backers for the project.
- All backers are listed publicly, along with the amount spent, so that there is complete transparency behind how a story came to fruition.
- Once the story reaches its goal, the story is assigned to a writer/researcher.
- Within 4 weeks, the story is in its first form — Version 1.
- Version 1 one is shared with the original backer and written feedback is solicited. The original backer is essentially the executive producer of the content.
- The writer incorporates some or all of the feedback (based on feasibility and budget) and creates Version 2.
- The original backer then review it one more time — but can only ask to add a preface to the article to elucidate the topic or provide context.
- The story then launches on coverthis.news.
- Along with the story, the journalist publishes all of his/her materials and sources. This is done so future authors, researchers and, in general, for the public record, can reuse existing, corroborated facts.