4 media entrepreneurship stories to watch in 2016


In the past couple weeks, we’ve told you about our top stories of 2015 and a photographer’s push to make visible the victims of sexual violence (don’t miss Sophia’s work here. It’s amazing!)

Through the Cracks is going through some changes in order to provide more than editorial products. More about those plans soon, but in our haste to build smart and fast, we missed some big stories at the intersection of crowdfunding, entrepreneurship and impact.

Each year for nearly a decade, crowdfunding has grown in adoption, acceptance and revenue. 2016 will be the same, in journalism and in other industries. Before we head too far into the New Year, we want to stop and recognize those stories because they’re important.

These events continue to tell the role of the ongoing experiment of crowdfunding in journalism, and are likely to have a big impact on the year to come.

1. Medium plans to work with publishers

The march up to this point has been steady. Medium, a platform that’s been called the internet’s opinion page and now averages 25 million monthly page views, plans to partner with wordsmiths and news outlets to monetize the platform. Medium founder Ev Williams discussed the plans on a recent episode of the Re/code Decode podcast.

2. Blendle is coming to the United States

This microfunding site out of Holland brings almost didn’t exist. Fortunately big Dutch publishers took a chance and this startup’s marketplace for penny-an-article approach expanded, proving along the way that Millennials will pay for journalism.

Stop to think about the approach this company’s taking in the grand scheme: Blendle is at the micro end with per-article payment, Patreon in the middle with monthly subscriptions and Kickstarter and Indiegogo has the potential to start an entire business.

Blendle has signed on names like New York Times, Washington Post and The Economist. Like Medium, plans are tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2016.

3. The Growth of Tipsy

There’s a higher than likely chance that you won’t see this item on a lot of people’s lists of stories to watch in the coming year but Tipsy, a Chrome extension made by MIT Media Lab, seems like a promising tool for independent publishers. Users can choose to pay by the minute, hour or week to sites they frequent. Alongside with Contributor with Google, Slashdot and tools to remove ads for a small fee, Tipsy seems like a tool for a post-ad block world.

It’s worth noting that the promise to get rid of ads has been behind some of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in history.

4. The Launch of Publish.org

Contributoria, a Guardian Media-backed venture, shut down last fall after working with freelancers and the crowd to raise more than $300,000 for more than 700 articles published since 2014. Not more than two months later they created Publish.org, a website dedicated “to support journalism around the world.”

The Publish.org platform for publishing for in-depth reporting will launch later this year.

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Khari Johnson
Khari is founder and editor of Through the Cracks: Crowdfunding in Journalism. He also writes about bots and artificial intelligence for VentureBeat. He has built news startups in the U.S. and Europe for the last decade.


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