Saturday, May 22, 2010

A different model for funding journalism

I got this email from the Tyee recently.   They are seeking public donations to be able to pay for journalists to report on issues of importance.    This is an interesting approach, but I am not convinced that it is one that is long term sustainable.  I know that Public Eye Online tries to raise money in a similar manner as well.  How often and how much will the public give to appeals like this?   Is this the PBSing of online media?
More and more groups are going to the well of the public for donations.   How much can we expect to give and how often?   Is there really the space for more groups to come around asking?

Dear Tyee reader,
Want to help BC's best independent journalists do their best work?
And have their stories reach everyone who reads The Tyee -- and far beyond?
Give to The Tyee Fellowship Funds and you make it happen.
It's an innovative way to fund important, in-depth reporting -- one that has attracted worldwide attention to The Tyee and its generous readers.
Previous Tyee reader-funded series have broken major stories and won national awards. (More on that below.)
So please consider making a tax deductible donation to the Tyee Reporting Fellowship funds today. It's easy. You can make a secure online donation here. And there are great prizes to win. (More on that below, too.)
When you make your donation, tell us the key issues you think demand superb reporting right now.
How $10,000 unleashes $20,000 worth of journalism
Our goal is to reach $10,000 in three weeks. That will allow giving out $20,000 in fellowships, $5,000 each to four writers.
How does that math work? Well, it's been two years since we last fund-raised for our reporting fellowships, but some people kindly have given to the project in the meantime, and so we start with $10,000. (A big thanks to all of you who have given between campaigns!)
But since we don't give out fewer than four fellowships at a time, we need $10,000 more to turn loose four great reporting efforts worth $20,000!
The Tyee Reporting Fellowships
Here's how your gift goes directly to work creating high-impact, top-notch journalism.
Once we've raised $20,000, we invite applications from writers -- emerging and seasoned -- who have great ideas for investigative or solutions-oriented reporting that informs citizens about critical issues in BC.
Four top proposals are selected by an independent panel made up of accomplished journalism professors. The winning projects run on The Tyee, and in other publications that wish to co-publish.
The Tyee Reporting Fellowship Funds are charitable status and your contribution is tax deductible. Tyee editors don't see applications, receive any of your money, and have no control over who wins -- that's up to our arm's-length panel.
Tyee Fellowships allow writers to conduct in-depth research, file freedom of information requests, run up phone bills and travel to where the stories are unfolding. It's the kind of sustained research and reporting our limited budget doesn't always allow.
Contribute and make a difference
Donations by Tyee readers four years ago enabled us to publish cutting-edge content including:
A highly influential, news-breaking investigative series by veteran science writer Chris Wood: "Rough Weather Ahead: How global warming will hit BC."
A widely read solutions series, hailed by First Nations leaders, by experienced freelancer Sandra Shields: "Reconciling with First Nations: How the 'New Relationship' is faring in the Fraser Valley."
A wildly popular and vigorously debated solutions series by writer and activist Dave Olsen: "No Fares! Time for a free ride on public transit."
And there's one more series to come later this summer.
Give, for the media we need
Corporate media is cutting back but the challenges facing us in British Columbia aren't shrinking.
Never have we more needed the kind of positive, change-making journalism you can make possible with a gift to the Tyee Fellowship Funds.
Please contribute today.
David Beers
Editor, The Tyee

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