It’s in stealth right now. But I can say this much – it will start off as a mobile application and the goal is to create a consumer friendly product that keeps people engaged and informed about what’s happening in the world. The problem set is unique and as the details of it shape you’ll see how it fits into the history of my career thinking of journalism as a process, not a product. I’ll be the founding editor helping think through, from top to bottom, the process of consumer driven journalism.
Posts Tagged ‘David Cohn’
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Spot.us founder David Cohn has officially handed the reins of his baby over to American Public Media’s Public Insight Network. Cohn stayed on to help APM after they acquired Spot.us four months ago, but, as of today, Cohn writes on his blog, APM will have complete control over the site.
Only four months ago Spot.Us was acquired by American Public Media to be merged with the Public Insight Network. That deal came after five months of due-diligence from both parties and two months of good faith communication.
It has come to my realization, however, that in its new form Spot.Us is no longer the best place for me. In many respects that’s perfectly fine. I handed over Spot.Us with enough money to support itself for one year. Combine those funds with the capable hands of APM and it’s possible Spot.Us will remain healthy and continue for a long time. I wish nothing but the best for Spot.Us as a platform and community. But for me – it’s time to move on. With this post I’m handing full reigns of Spot.Us over to APM not just in ownership (which already happened) but in terms of direction. This change has been going on in the background for some time and now it’s official. This is me taking a bow and exiting stage left….
David Cohn announced today that after four years up and running, his experiment in crowd-funded journalism, Spot.us, is merging with American Public Media’s Public Insight Network. Day-to-day operations of Spot.us will now be overseen by PIN’s Joaquin Alvarado.
Cohn tells us he’s staying on with Spot.us, but his role will be largely scaled back–at least in the short term. “I’m teaching at Berkeley’s J-school this year which is more or less full time. At the moment I’m going to be a contractor or consultant with PIN helping to integrate Spot.Us into their larger system. I’ll also be advising on ways that we can scale Spot.Us up, basically explaining visions I always had for Spot.Us but lacked the resources for.
“In the future – I may come on full time at PIN – as my Berkeley gig ends in August. But that is far enough away that I can’t say for sure.”
Spot.us is already fully funded for the first year of the merger with PIN.
American Public Media press release after the jump:
Spot.us founder David Cohn just landed a new gig as a full-time instructor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Cohn will be “conducting research on economic models of online journalism publications and help to develop business products for supporting hyperlocal news websites” as part of a grant from the Ford Foundation, according to the press release.
Cohn clarifies on his blog that this new venture does not mean the end of Spot.us:
Spot.Us has enough money in the bank to give us a runway of at least one year – possibly more (August was our first break-even month!). That includes salary for myself and our C.T.O. Erik Sundelof in addition to any money we would raise for reporters. In fact, Spot.Us is in PERFECT position to scale up and that’s exactly what we are working on. I will remain an active part of Spot.Us and in the coming weeks we should have some exciting news which will cement it as an ongoing business (elevated from a mere experiment) for at least another two years. So Spot.Us is doing business as usual right now and soon might be doing even more of it!
Cohn says the move will allow him to experiment with funding sources that simply aren’t allowed in the more conservative non-profit model .
Randall Smith, a Reynolds Center endowed chair at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, recalls how a conversation with David Cohn, founder and director of SF-LA focused Spot.us, led to the spark for a new business journalism course. He wound up hashing it all out one weekend with Missouri prof Tom Stam:
Our goal was to teach our students about business and to write a lot about it. They would be exposed to the inner most workings of a company: budgets, senior executives and industry dynamics. The project would require a lot of work. Stam recruited two other business professors to help teach, and I found five businesses that either had a new idea or problem that could use help from a highly motivated student team.
Along with Spot.us, Smith and Stam secured the participation of AP, Silcon Valley start-up Kachingle, the Chicago Sun-Times, and LA’s Media & Policy Center. As Smith goes on to detail, many valuable lessons were learned during this inaugural 2010 graduate course, with some of the MBA and Ph.D. students choosing to shift afterwards to more of a journalism focus.
Writes Cohn in a release:
Although it’s the middle of winter, we’ve undergone a website rebirth! Hopefully, you’ll find Spot.Us’ 3.0 design easier to navigate and nicer to look at. We know looks aren’t everything, but it certainly helps to put a worthy frame around the great stories that our community of reporters are producing with your support.
According to Cohn, anyone can go and pitch their idea for an investigative piece and wait and see if people want to donate money for the story.
We’ve posted the press release in full. The new LA site is here.
Crowd-Funded Journalism Comes to L.A. as Spot.Us Partners with USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism
(Sept. 22, 2009) LOS ANGELES – Spot.Us, the community funded journalism project founded less than a year ago in San Francisco, announces it is expanding to Los Angeles through a collaboration with USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism. The USC Annenberg partnership, which will integrate Spot.Us’ innovative news delivery method with the journalism academy and strengthen ties to the local media community, is made possible by additional funding from the the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, one of the original backers of the project. Among other things, the grant will fund local staff to coordinate freelancers and publications in the LA area and further site development.
God and Google know the old, monopolistic print advertising model will never make a full-scale comeback. So more power to any endeavor trying to push serious journalism into a new era.
Yes, there is a “but.” To wit: The site’s platform outperforms its product. Spot.us stories simply need to be better. The four I checked out — three written and one a radio report — did not particularly engage, incite or entertain.
Did not particularly engage, incite or entertain? That could be said about a lot of publications. That’s not really the point of Spot.us. It’s a model to pay for investigative reporting. It’s a platform – like WordPress. You can’t say WordPress isn’t journalistic enough because people who use it don’t spell correctly.
That would be ridiculous.
FBLA: How has the reception been to this idea so far? Has there been a lot of money raised?
DC: The reception has been good. People are genuinely excited about it. If I had a $5 donation for every person that said it was a smart idea, we would have funded all our pitches by now
But seriously: So far people are really positive about it. We haven’t raised “a lot” of money by some standards, so far we’ve raised about $1,000 – but that’s not bad in just one week. The problem is that we must raise a lot more if we are going to fund some serious journalism.