Our top 5 (and then some) stories of crowdfunded journalism in 2015

Through the Cracks is a young operation.

Most of what we did before 2015 was a minimally viable product, a search for a proof of concept. Our best reporting and analysis took place this year, so to say this is the best of 2015 really is to say our best work all-time. Here are the top five according to page views.

Of course these are only a sample of more than 100 stories we’ve told and best practices we’ve shared this year.

If you’re unfamiliar with our work, it’s understandable how you can look at these stories and see a disconnect, a disparate collection of unrelated stories. But we believe they are connected, all part of a continuing trend that embodies the phrase “Innovations happens at the edges.”

We exist to bring that story together for you. To get regular updates, sign up for the weekly newsletter, and if you know any stories you think we should be writing about email news@throughcracks.com.


1. What the most successful crowdfunding campaigns for journalism have in common

Looking at the similarities between the three most lucrative crowdfunding campaigns to create news startups is really exciting, especially when you stop to consider that none of these businesses published a single story before the start of their campaign. They also urge you not to create a publishing business, but to start a movement. Read more…


2. The story behind (and tips from) the most successful crowdfunding campaign in the history of journalism

Earlier this year, El Español successfully carried out the most successful crowdfunding campaign to create a news startup in the history of journalism. Also exciting: They sold stock in their venture to readers and concerned citizens. Look for us to revisit this story in 2016. In an article in which Through the Cracks is quoted, Columbia Journalism Review took an even closer look at the back story of El Español that’s worth reading. Read more…


3. ‘How I successfully crowdfund my journalism’

This is a guest post by former Contributoria editor Sarah Hartley about entrepreneurial journalism instructor and journalist Danielle Batist. She would go on to play a role in the successful six-digit campaign of Positive News in London, but Batist consistently crowdfunded more than 20 of her own stories with some fairly simple but powerful techniques. Read more…

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4. Documentary photographer turns his lens on his disabled daughter

Oakland-based photographer Leon Borensztein has taken care of his daughter Sharon, who is on the Autism spectrum, for decades. He’s also taken photos of their life together since she was born more than 30 years ago. Read more…

5. Polaroid photography of Britain’s most isolated community

Using some of the last Polaroid rolls left, photographer Rhiannon Adam took a trip to a British island community thousands of miles from Britain. Read more… 

6. A National Geographic photographer’s 4 tips to crowdfund photo books

Matthieu Paley was kind enough to share some simple but noteworthy tips with our own Alexandra Meleán. Read more…

Scott Carney in San Pedro, Calif.
7. This guy wants to revolutionize freelance journalism

WordRates is a website that wants to become the single place freelance journalists share the rate of pay they receive and their experience working with editors. Truth be told, founder Scott Carney doesn’t like crowdfunding, but he saw advantages to carrying out a campaign when starting his business, and it wasn’t the money. Read more…

8. Readers, not journalists, decide what’s news with Bounties

Bounties is Beacon Reader’s attempt to put the ability to initiate crowdfunding campaigns for the stories they think should be told. Once the campaign is successful it’s then assigned to a reporter. Too early to tell if this has been a success yet but it’s a novel approach that fits in our social, prosumer media world. Read more…

9. Dope stories from favelas that aren’t about drug lords

Flora Charner seeks and shares stories of the favelas of Rio de Janiero that go beyond a single narrative. Read more…

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10. A Humans of New York-inspired project in the Arctic

Uusi Inari was a popup publication created in the Arctic Inari region by Finnish journalism students from the University of Tampere. Together with a Humans of New York-inspired photo feature, the reporting and storytelling project was designed to temporarily highlight the story of a unique place while teaching the students about a new funding model. They learned a lot, and told some good stories as well. Read more…

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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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