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Spot.us Merges With The Public Insight Network

Full disclosure: I worked as a contract designer for Spot.us from late 2009 to early 2011.

Today the crowd-funded reporting organization Spot.us announced it’s been acquired by American Public Media’s Public Insight Network.

Spot.us is a site that allows freelance journalists and reporting organizations to pitch topics worth reporting to the public. If the public agrees about a topic’s worthiness, they can contribute money toward the topic. When the funding goal is met, the reporters or organizations fulfill their reporting duties and publish that information on the Spot.us site or through a distribution partner. The Public Insight Network — jiving with the theme of open, collaborative reporting — has a repository of knowledgable sources that journalists can tap into for high-quality reporting.

The merging of the two makes a lot of sense: Spot.us allows journalists and organizations to fund their reporting and reach an audience; PIN allows journalists to access sources they need to deliver strong, reliable journalism to the public.

From PIN’s press release (emphasis added by me):

The combination lays the foundation for a networked approach to sourcing and funding high-quality journalism that will help newsrooms and journalists gather the resources and insights they need to do great reporting.

“Spot.Us and PIN both believe in the power of the independent voice in journalism – from both journalists and sources, making the acquisition an ideal move,” said Joaquin Alvarado, senior vice president of digital innovation at APM. “PIN believes in the
important work of Spot.Us and we will explore opportunities to continue to drive the effectiveness and relevancy of the site even further in the future.”

“We couldn’t be more excited about joining forces with the Public Insight Network to change the way journalism is both funded and reported,” said David Cohn, founder of Spot.Us. “Combined, we have a real opportunity to be a positive force, paving the way for journalism to be truly public from the ground up.”

David Cohn wrote about the merger on his personal blog, saying that it should be the role of public media to create and managed a more “nuanced relationship” between news entities and the public:

The Public Insight Network (part of American Public Media) was co-founded by my friend Michael Skoler, now at Public Radio International. It’s a software platform (similar to Spot.Us) that has long been at the forefront of how Public Media can interact with and take cues from the public by giving them a means to inform journalism. Individuals can provide insight to make stories more informed, insightful and reflect the community in a truer sense. Spot.Us is built on a relationship with the public giving them a kind of editorial control and influence over what stories should be done. Both create a media that is more responsive and responsible to the public’s needs according to their own volition. Combined we offer both opportunities to readers, creating a more nuanced relationship between a news entity that uses PIN/Spot and the public.

We look forward to seeing how to the two organizations mesh moving forward. What do you think?

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