Spot.Us and Crowdfunding in the NYTimes

The New York Times writes about Knight News Challenge (the ~$5 million yearly contest to fund innovative news delivery ideas) winner David Cohn’s Spot.Us project today:

‘Spot Us would give a new sense of editorial power to the public,’ said David Cohn, a 26-year-old Web journalist who received a $340,000, two-year grant from the Knight Foundation to test his idea. ‘I’m not Bill and Melinda Gates, but I can give $10. This is the Obama model. This is the Howard Dean model.’

You can contribute to (help “crowdfund”) the Spot.Us campaign the article mentions that will check political advertisements in San Francisco for accuracy here (campaign is 89% funded as of this morning). More details about that project are on the Spot.Us wiki.

The article also mentions Knight Foundation Trustee Paul Steiger‘s new ProPublica organization, which produces “journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.” An interesting ProPublica site feature is the “Scandal Watch” sidebar, where progress on highlighted stories is charted throughout the week; read Friday’s summary by Alexandra Andrews.

The NYT article lets another News Challenge winner, Jay Rosen, (who blogs along with Cohn and the other News Challenge winners on the IdeaLab group blog; you can read his entries here) have the last words about alternative reporting models:

‘The [traditional] business model is broken,’ [Rosen] said. ‘We’re at a point now where nobody actually knows where the money is going to come from for editorial goods in the future. My own feeling is that we need to try lots of things. Most of them won’t work. You’ll have a lot of failure. But we need to launch a lot of boats.’

What do you think about crowdfunding?