Chipping in to pay for journalism

After I kicked in 10 bucks to help fund Ted Rall’s trip back to report on Afghanistan , I discovered an alum from our J program (Liana Aghajanian) was also trying to get funding for an LA-based story about more than 4,000 unclaimed dead in the LA Corner’s office’s records.

So, I donated $20 this morning to help fund her proposal on the Los Angeles  node of  Spot.us, a journalism-specific crowd-funding initiative, that asks the public for contributions to pay for reporting undercovered stories.

How does it compare to Kickstarter.com?

Paying: Kickstarter.com has a better (for me, anyway) payment system.  It uses your Amazon account and only charges it if the project meets its goal.  Spot.us asks for your credit card (on my version of Firefox, the security lock was fussy) or Paypal. I opted for the latter.  One big positive for Spot.us is that contributions are tax deductible.

Promo: Kickstarter gave me a nice widget to put on my blog (see below) to promote the project.  If that exists on Spot.us, I missed it.

Connections: Projects on Kickstarter.com offer treats to project support.   For the Rall donation, I’m supposed to get real-time dispatches from Afghanistan.  If I’d given more, I could get a copy of the book or for big bucks a dinner with Rall and more.

Sponsors:  Spot.us has Knight and other foundation money.  It’s LA arm has [Walter] Annenberg Foundation money and carries an ad-like announcement for their J school, which means I probably won’t be a regular supporter. Kickstarter.com isn’t as clear about its funding other than listing its nine “people.”  Most are in Brooklyn where it’s based, but I was oddly reassured to see one guy listing Walla Walla as his location and another calling Portland home.

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