ReadWrite’s editor openly considers crowdfunding after Gigaom folds

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It’s too late for fans of the beloved Gigaom to save the venture with crowdfunding, concludes ReadWrite editor Owen Thomas, but his publication may seriously consider it in the future.

In an article published Wednesday with the plainly stated headline “Should we crowdfund ReadWrite?”, Thomas openly imagines the idea and invites readers to share their ideas.

Thomas writes his piece in the wake of the sudden closure of Gigaom earlier this week and following the wild success of the Pebble smartwatch Kickstarter campaign, which raised $1 million in an hour and more than $10 million overall.

As Gigaom’s former senior writer Mathew Ingram told Columbia Journalism Review, lots of people have opinions on what the website’s closure means. Ingram called venture capital funding a kind of “golden handcuffs.”

Thomas’ take: Gigaom’s demise is a reminder that a reliance on ads does not assure the continuance of independent reporting. If ReadWrite started crowdfunding they would still have ads but crowdfunding may allow the website to be more selective about advertisers allowed to reach the ReadWrite community, Thomas said.

Crowdfunding could support reporting fellowships or investigative reporting around certain topics and the extend the website’s overall coverage.

How the money is spent is not the most important part of initiating a crowdfunding campaign, Thomas said.

“What matters to me most is the notion of reestablishing a direct connection with our readers by treating you as people who belong to a community that’s meaningful and specific,” he said.

“But whether we do a crowdfunding campaign or fund ReadWrite in other novel ways, what it will become over the next dozen years must be driven by the people who read it. There’s no other way for us to grow and prosper,” he wrote.

Editor’s Note: About a decade ago, Owen Thomas worked with Om Malik and Through the Cracks editor Khari Johnson at Business 2.0 Magazine. Thomas was Johnson’s manager at Business 2.0 Magazine, during which time Johnson fact checked some of Malik’s work for the now defunct magazine.

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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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