Can readers finance the media?

    Today, October 16, the crowdfunding project of the online publication (the former edition of the OpenSpace website) on the crowdfunding platform ends. With the help of its readers, collected almost 700,000 rubles, which is 100,000 thousand more than the financial statement announced by the editors. The money will go to pay royalties for three months. But can Colta continue to exist without a regular investor? This question remains open so far, because collecting the amount in excess of 20 million rubles (this is the annual cost of maintaining the project) only through collective co-financing in Russia is not yet realistic. But today, the possibility of a crowdfunding model of the existence of individual media is of concern not only to Russian, but also to Western media companies.
    With the advent of the Internet era, media owners around the world are trying to find a business model that could save the traditional form of journalism. “Big” journalistic forms, as well as investigations and analytics, were difficult to find, for which it is difficult to find an investor, since in a stream of rapidly changing news and events of the Network they do not fall into the field of view of a large number of readers.

    A few months ago in the United States, a conference was held entitled “Democratization of Communication: The Future of Journalism in Modern Media”. It was attended by editors and journalists of major publications and media holdings. During the event, four options were developed that could save serious journalism in the next five years, and especially journalists involved in investigations and analytics. The first and perhaps the main way is crowdfunding.

    Referring to the experience of the Kickstarter and sites, experts see the future of the media in a system of pre-order and prepaid articles. It is in this way that the most famous crowdfunding resource for journalists works. At it, reporters have the opportunity to propose a topic, and potential readers to evaluate its relevance and sponsor the material. After the release of the article, various publications can buy it or it will be published on the resource itself.

    On Kickstarter there is no special category for journalistic projects. Despite this, March 24th successfully completed the Matter project, an online magazine on technology and science created by well-known journalists, authors of such publications as Nature, The Atlantic, The Economist, New Scientist, GigaOM, The Guardian, Businessweek and The New York Times . The planned frequency of articles is one per week. Readers will pay 99 cents for each article. The authors collected initial capital to launch the site and develop applications for it and set a financial goal of $ 50,000. As a result, they raised $ 140,201 per month.
    Unlike Kickstarter, the Swedish FundedByMe website has a special category called Journalism, where you can post projects of any genre. Their authors are asking to support their blogs, paper magazines, reportage films, radio stations, television programs and newspapers.

    In 2011,, which is still in beta mode, was launched. This resource was created specifically for photo projects. Since recently the genre of photojournalism is losing its independence, because it depends on the politics of newspapers and magazines, and is also replaced by multimedia forms, the creators of the site focused on it. now has many photo albums, whose authors need support to release them. One of the interesting projects of this kind is the book of a Hungarian photographer with pictures of young supporters of V. Putin. It’s called the “FC Putin Book” (“Putin’s Fan Club”). The site also has an online store that hosts photo albums that have achieved success.

    For all the world's attempts to apply the experience of crowdfunding in the field of journalism, it is important not to forget about a specific problem. All of the above sites and projects raised funds for a specific result, whether it be an article, an album or a website launch. That is, they have a prepaid system for a clear product. Only the experience of the online magazine Matter stands out from this series, as readers paid to launch a project that they had not yet seen. But in the future, the magazine will also use a prepaid article scheme.
    We already know that the basic rule of Kickstarter crowdfunding is a clear final goal. In other words, any project that collects money on this platform should have an end result in the form of a specific product. Therefore, service projects are not allowed there, that is, those that need constant financial support, and media projects most often need just such financial injections.

    The Russian experience of public finance for on Planet is unique even against the backdrop of international activities in this area. Such a project would not have been moderated on Kickstarter, since readers already familiar with the authors of the project did not pay for specific articles, but provided royalties to the authors. That is, in fact, they acted as customers-employers, not knowing the final result. In just 20 days, collected the required amount of 600 thousand rubles, and today - on the last day of financing, the collection amount reached 694 503 rubles.
    Crowdfunding can open up the possibility for journalists and editors to create texts for a narrow audience, conduct investigations that take time and money, and bypass censorship. Unfortunately, in Russia there are not many examples of using such a work scheme, but Planet hopes that such projects will appear soon and, most importantly, readers will support this initiative of journalists.

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