As newspapers nationwide struggle to stay afloat in the internet era, a new online venture aims to harness the power of the people—or at least their checkbooks. The San Francisco-based Spot Us site solicits story ideas and donations from the public. If enough cash is raised for a particular story, and editors agree, Spot Us pledges to develop an article, reports the New York Times.
Critics have raised concerns about journalism paid for by the highest bidder. They question the difference between an agenda-driven neighborhood seeking a story and Big Tobacco doing the same. Spot Us limits individual donations to no more than 20% of a story’s total costs, and one media analyst says the model is worth a shot. He notes the technique is “one of several strategies that could help save newspapers.”