INN goes 6 for 8 with group crowdfunding service Spotlight

Credit: Kymberly Janisch.
Credit: Kymberly Janisch.

Editor’s Note: If you haven’t heard about recent changes at INN, I encourage you to read this Apr. 9 Nieman Lab story about the departure of CEO Ken Davis. It isn’t really about crowdfunding but if you’re reading this article we assume you care about independent local news and thought you should know. I mean reporting this story right now without mentioning this news seems like ignoring an elephant in the room. Anyway, here ends the longest editor’s note in history.

Six for eight.

That’s the result of a bundle of crowdfunding campaigns launched all at once Mar. 5 by news organizations and members of the Institute of Nonprofit News (INN, formerly the Independent News Network). The campaigns were highlighted and promoted on a Spotlight page on the crowdfunding platform Beacon Reader.

In all, more than $16,000 was raised to support investigative reporting across the United States. The projects will attempt to shine light on subjects as varied as brain drain in Iowa, public health on a reservation in Wyoming and public finance in the American South.

Also among the funded campaigns: Florida Center for Investigate Reporting will continue their investigation into an unofficial policy to avoid use of the phrase “climate change.”

The last of the eight individual campaigns included on the Spotlight page came to an end at the end of March. Each ranged from 15 to 30 days in length.

The Spotlight page to highlight multiple campaigns by members of professional journalism or news organizations was a first for INN and Beacon Reader.

Expect more Spotlight pages in the coming months, said Beacon cofounder Dan Fletcher.

Two campaigns failed to reach their goal and were removed from the INN Spotlight page by Beacon, Fletcher said.

Despite experience with Spot.us crowdfunding campaigns in the past and being located in the same city as Beacon, Oakland Local’s project to report on the city’s underground economy brought in $270 from 11 backers, well short of a $5,000 goal.

A Tucson Sentinel project to look into U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints near the Arizona-Mexico border also fell short, garnering $175 from 10 backers. The Sentinel’s project launched weeks after a different crowdfunding campaign to photograph the Arizona-Mexico border.

That campaign received praise from Through the Cracks and Journo.biz, a publication at the Institute for Nonprofit News.

As part of changes following INN’s recent name change, the institute plans to carry out more crowdfunding with its unique, social media-based Impaqme widget.

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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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