Exclusive: Kickstarter’s Misleading Facts on Journalism Earnings

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If you spend as much time on the Kickstarter website as we do (you probably do not spend as much time on the Kickstarter website as we do), you’d know that February is Publishing Month, and as part of Publishing Month Kickstarter released the following statement:

“Since we added the Journalism category in June 2014, backers have pledged over $5.4 million to help nearly 2,000 independent journalism projects come to life.”

This sentence immediately raised red flags at Through the Cracks. 

As we discussed in our article “Journalism is dead last on Kickstarter. Now What?,” about 500 campaigns have successfully hit their funding goal since Journalism became its own category in June 2014.

Kickstarter’s public numbers (shot out for keeping things transparent) say as much.

We also know from that data and a story published last month by Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism director Micheline Maynard that $1.3 million has been raised for journalism campaigns since June 2014.

So what gives?

“That phrasing is equivocal,” said Justin Kazmark with Kickstarter via email.

“More than 2,000 project in Journalism *launched* butt the stats page is correct in that just 500 successfully funded. So the latter number is the number that has really been “helped” to come to life,” he said.

The language may be changed, Kazmark said.

“I believe the $1.3 million number in Reynolds referred to dollars pledged to Journalism projects in 2014. The $5.4M number refers to dollars pledged to Journalism projects since Kickstarter launched in 2009.

So to be clear, in this context, pledged doesn’t mean money that went to a journalism project. It means money that would have potentially gone to projects if project was successful.

Unfortunately Journalism has the third lowest rate of successful projects (27.3) behind fashion (26.3) and technology (23.9).

Want to know more about the journalism category from our perspective? Read “Journalism Ranks Dead Last. Now What?” 

By the way if you’re in New York Feb. 3, Kickstarter is hosting “Kickstarter for Journalists 101: Getting Started.” 

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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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