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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

is a journalism project in which users can donate money to pay for the costs of specific stories they would like to see covered.

Spot.Us was founded in 2008 by and launched through a $340,000 . It was by the , a division of . Cohn in 2012. Under APM, the site’s funding awarded and percentage of successful projects .

The project is on the model of sites like and , which allow users to donate or lend to groups in need. On Spot.Us, freelance journalists pitch stories and ask for funding to cover them. Once the stories are reported, they’re , though publishers can donate in exchange for exclusive publishing rights.

Spot.Us began in San Francisco and expanded to Los Angeles in September 2009 through a partnership with the USC Annenberg School of Journalism and to in April 2010.

As of April 2010, Spot.us had raised toward reporting projects, with about two-thirds of its proposed stories reaching full funding. As of February of 2011, with the help of 5,000 contributors (a fifth of whom contributed more than once), and it had .

Spot.Us’ most prominent story has been a by Lindsey Hoshaw on the Pacific garbage patch, which resulted in a and a published in The New York Times in November 2009. New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt published a about the project, its fundraising needs and the Times involvement in July 2009.

The Times story received criticism for being relatively bland, though Hoshaw by saying that the blog included deeper reporting than the article.

Spot.Us also funded an on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge that was published in December 2009 SF Public Press, McSweeney’s and the .

Early in 2010, Spot.Us rolled out , including a program to allow journalists to ask users to assist in their reporting and the ability to track stories from beginning to end.

Cohn has also integrated the project’s open-source model into advertising. In June of 2010, it that allows users to earn credits they can use to fund stories by engaging with ads on the site.


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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: December 20, 2012.
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SeeClickFix is a website and application that allows citizens to report non-emergency issues to local government. The Connecticut-based startup was founded in 2008 and offers free web and mobile phone tools to connect residents and local government bodies. SeeClickFix has partnered with about 800 news organizations as of 2011, including The New York Times, the Washington Post,…

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Encyclo is made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation.
The AndroidForMobile Journalism Lab is a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age.