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    Two Weeks, Two Stories, Too Early For A Victory Dance

    by David Cohn
    November 24, 2008

    It has been two weeks since the “official” launch of Spot.Us.

    I’m happy with its progress, but I remain unsatisfied. The new
    media hype has been great. I’m truly honored at how much attention
    Spot.Us has received, the optimistic and hopeful remarks, the young
    journalists with questions, etc. But that will die down.

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    With the initial hype of our launch we’ve managed to fund two different stories: “Return of the Hooverville“ and “When the Longevity Revolution Hits Your Town.”

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    Together they represent $1,550 donated by 53 people who gave an
    average of $29 each (some of that money was raised during our beta-wiki
    phase).

    And the general theory for Spot.Us has show it has some legs. The Hooverville pitch is going to be republished by KALW and Roxbury News
    who both contributed to the story and the Longevity Revolution pitch
    wouldn’t have been successful if it weren’t for the community
    organizing of Raines Cohen, Redwood Age and others in the aging/elderly community.

    But what Spot.Us (and journalism in general) needs right now isn’t just a chummy knock of the chin, we need a movement.

    We need a shift in how people traditionally interact with journalism
    content. I’m looking for journalists to create pitches but just as important are civic
    leaders. People who don’t just donate money – but time. People that can organize communities. Without them Spot.Us won’t last the Winter.

    (Image inspiration)

    Behind every story is a cause, a movement, an opportunity for
    community organizing just waiting to break out. But we need to find
    those community organizers (enter Palin joke here) and convince them
    that good journalism is a goal to strive for.

    Take the simple pitch about MUNI’s Express service in San Francisco. We’ve raised $70 and only need another $180 to fully fund this story. That is just 18 people giving $10 each.

    A quick scan and you’ll find 300 people that have joined different Facebook groups based on MUNI. Meanwhile San Francisco has various groups and blogs dedicated to transit from RescueMuni.org, N Judah Chronciles, MUNI Diaries and more. It is in ALL these individuals and blogs interests to get good reporting on why MUNI doesn’t run more express buses. Whether or not they knew it – the individuals who created these blogs and Facebook groups are in the position to be community leaders and make a difference.

    Furthermore, between all these blogs and groups there is enough
    interest and people to fund this story in a single day without anybody
    giving more than $10. The problem isn’t finding people. The difficult
    part is convincing them that good journalism about a topic, even a
    topic they care about, is worth a small $10 tax-deductible donation.

    And that is where I need the help of every journalist, civic-minded
    individual, leader, friend and foe. You don’t have to give much – just
    $5 but what is more meaningful is finding five other people who also give. That is how networks grow and thrive.

    Can Spot.Us we usher in this new relationship between communities and
    journalism? Can we show people that solid reporting is worth $5-$10?

    I don’t claim to know the answer – but that is why this is a fun
    job. I know this. Spot.Us won’t be able to do it alone. We need your
    help. We need your support to spread the word, not just with a link and
    a passive, “there is a new startup.” But with your genuine enthusiasm
    not only for Spot.Us – but EVERY journalism startup that might help the
    craft continue despite the economic realities staring us in the face.

    Lets work as if we were in the early days of a better time for journalism….. because we are.

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