YouCommNews, Australia’s first croudsourced/funded news site, has published its first people-powered story today. “In search of non-toxic housing for health’s sake“, (pitched and) written by Toula Mantis, chronicles Katherine McIntosh’s extreme case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. With funding received from 17 people (totaling $878), Mantis was able to research and write an article about McIntosh’s chemical sensitivities. It also made possible the production of a complimentary video that accompanies the story.
Running on platform developed by US crowd news service Spot.us, YouCommNews aims to introduce the concept to Australia. The project hopes to engage members of the public in a more active role in the reporting process. This investment is multifaceted; including an investment in the content, by aligning with and financially supporting a pitch and by suggesting story ideas they would like to see reported on. Margaret Simmons, the Chair of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation at Swinburne University of Technology‘s Institute for Social Research, explained the project on her blog at Crikey, The Content Makers:
It is built on two core insights. Number one, that publication is no longer a problem. Anyone with a basic level of digital literacy can publish. The difficulty is in getting high quality journalism done, and paying journalists sensible rates to do it.
The second insight is that journalism should interest people. Or to put it another way, the journalism we do should matter to people, and they should be engaged and involved at every stage. This model allows the public – or rather the many differenet groups, or different publics, that gather around journalism that matters – to decide for themselves what is worth supporting. So on this model, size of audience is not the only, or the main, measure of success. A story might be of intense interest to a few thousand people. Providing that they are sufficiently interested to raise the money, then a journalist can be hired and the work can be done. The journalism will then be available for anyone to publish or broadcast.