Journalism ranks dead last on Kickstarter. Now what?


Well that’s a pretty damning headline, but it’s pretty important to note how the Journalism category fares on the world’s most profitable rewards based crowdfunding platform.

So just how is the Journalism category last on Kickstarter?

In almost every way.

Analysis of data made available by Kickstarter finds that the Journalism category is responsible for the fewest total number of successful campaigns, the fewest attempted campaigns and the least amount of money rewarded.

Creative categories like music (near 19,000), film and video (16,000), art and publishing (roughly 7,000 each) are responsible for the highest number of successful campaigns in Kickstarter history. However Journalism (498 as of Jan. 21) has the lowest number of successful campaigns of any of the platform’s 15 categories.

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

Tech may rank lowest in total number of successful projects tech campaigns have been some of the most profitable. And Journalism being a new player on Kickstarter doesn’t mean it should have much impact on funds raised. So how does Journalism rank in earnings?

Awful, that’s how.

Kickstarter breaks out data for earnings, sharing the number of successful campaigns that earn less than $1,000, more than $1 million and everything in between.

The results:

– Journalism is among one of six categories to never raise $1 million or more for a campaign.

– Journalism has the second lowest number of campaigns (3) that have raised $100K-$999,999.

– Journalism has the third lowest (62) number of successful campaigns in the $20,000-$99,999 range.

– Journalism is tied for last in the number of successful campaigns that raised $10,000-19,999 (49).

– Journalism has the lowest number of successful campaigns (292) in the $1,000-$9,999 range.

– Journalism has the lowest number of successful campaigns (91) that have raised less than $1,000.

Approximately $1 million have been raised for Journalism projects. About $1.5 billion have been raised for all Kickstarter projects. That means Journalism projects account for 0.06 percent of all successfully funded projects.

Some noteworthy exceptions:

Kickstarter has a few categories that may include ventures that may be interpreted as journalism by some: photography is its own category, documentaries are in film and video, radio and podcasts are a publishing sub-category.

If they were included in the Journalism category it would likely make a big difference. On their own, Radiotopia and Snap Judgment brought in more than $800,000 last year.

Full stats available at

It’s also worth remembering that the Journalism category, created in summer 2013, is the youngest category.

That information withstanding, these answers raise a lot of questions, questions I ask here fully cognizant of the fact that Kickstarter has declared February Publishing Month.

First… is this OK?? There are a lot of great examples of successful individual campaigns but can Journalism afford to fail on Kickstarter?

Should we expect more? From journalists? From Kickstarter? I think the burden lies entirely on journalists.

The category has been around for less than a year. When do we begin to expect more?

When do we begin to question whether or not Journalism campaigns should bring in more money on Kickstarter?

Do legacy outlets have an obligation to, in most pressing cases, suggest that a beat be crowdfunded when it cannot be sustained by their own money?

Has crowdfunding been used to bring coverage to neighborhoods and regions that lack coverage today?

Have news organizations, news startups or freelancers tried to make it part of the plan to bring reporting, investigations, stories, etc. to make projects and special coverage as good as they deserve to be?

Is Kickstarter alone or is a similar event happening on other crowdfunding platforms?

Given the amount of engagement and empowerment crowdfunding lends to communities, should it play a larger role in journalism in the future??

At what point do we look at what’s happening and say that a great deal of potential for news startups and all facets of media remains unlocked?

Through the Cracks exists to bring light to innovative, successful or otherwise compelling examples of crowdfunding in journalism. We also exist to answer questions like these.

We’ll get into some of these questions in the month ahead and in our continuing coverage. In the meantime

Share your thoughts in comments here or feel free to answer a few of these questions.

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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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