Journalistic crowdfunding platform Beacon signs another partnership deal, this time with Newsweek

2 Comments

Beacon, the crowdfunding-for-journalism platform that launched almost exactly a year ago and was co-founded by Facebook’s former managing editor Dan Fletcher, continues to sign up new journalists interested in using the platform. But it is also growing in a different way — namely, by signing partnerships with existing media outlets to do crowdfunding campaigns based around a single topic. The latest is a project with Newsweek that was announced on Wednesday.

The weekly newsmagazine, which was acquired last year by a somewhat controversial company called IBT Media, said that it is working on an investigative feature about sexual assault on college campuses, and in order to help provide the resources for writer and editor Mandy Van Deven to do the project, it has set up a crowdfunding campaign in partnership with Beacon.

A post at Newsweek says the project, called “Understanding The College Rape Crisis,” will involve real-time updates from Van Deven while she is embedded on campuses across the U.S., as well as a series of in-depth reports and other features based on her research. In effect, contributors are subscribing to a stream of content that will be produced over the life of the project, and the goal of the campaign is to raise $20,000 by November 26.

Newsweek Beacon campaign

The editors at Newsweek said that part of the reason they decided to set up the partnership was that the platform and the crowdfunding model allow for more transparent journalism:

Crowdfunding isn’t just about the money

Beacon’s first partnership was with The Huffington Post in August: it created a “Ferguson fellowship” that funded reporter Mariah Stewart and allowed her to report on the aftermath of the riots and upheaval in that town following the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, as well as giving her access to training and tips from Huffington Post staff. Her stories appear at Huffington Post.

Ferguson Huffpo campaign

The arrangement came under fire from a number of media-industry insiders and journalists, who complained that the Huffington Post should fund that kind of reporting all by itself, since its corporate parent is online giant AOL. But I argued at the time that the use of crowdfunding to help pay for such projects is actually a smart way to let readers (or potential readers) show that they are interested in a specific topic, and to create an ongoing relationship between them and the reporter.

Beacon co-founder Adrian Sanders made a similar point in an email to me about the Newsweek partnership. Crowdfunding is “a way to find out what readers find truly valuable,” he said, and gives content creators or publishers the opportunity to “push initiatives forward that wouldn’t necessarily make sense in the traditional ad-driven business model.”

Sanders said that Beacon is working on other similar partnerships with a number of media companies, including The Huffington Post. One such deal was also announced on Wednesday — a partnership with the Pacific Standard, where a reporter is working on a series about Ebola and the food crisis in West Africa.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Christian Scholz

2 Comments

Flux Research

This really is cool. I think the partnerships are great too.

People are so worked up about the potential death of journalism. I’m surprised that they can’t see life when it’s right in front of them.

Sameul Clemens

I think this is great. The commercial media by its nature is compromised by being chained the whole structure of corporate power and profit control. Consider how Amazon has captured the Washington Post just to exploit personal information about you for its and its partners (whoever they are in shadows) benefit. Nobody seriously expects a capitalist organ to every question capitalist values and activities. But if people can pay for others to dig in without the restrictions, it may not be so bad that big newspapers are dropping by like flies if something better can replace them for digging into dark corners that the mass media suppresses.

Comments are closed.