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    Spot.Us Expands to L.A. with USC Annenberg

    by David Cohn
    September 22, 2009

    First: The big news.

    Spot.Us is expanding to Los Angeles and we are doing so with USC‘s Annenberg School of Journalism.
    Needless to say, we are very excited about the opportunities and
    possibilities. The main Spot.Us homepage will aggregate pitches from
    both the SF Bay Area and Los Angeles regions. You can go to Subdomains
    to find pitches specific to those regions: la.spot.us and sfbay.spot.us.

    As many know, I grew up in Los Angeles (Hamilton High School anyone?)
    so this is a bit of a home coming for me. I will remain up north
    running the Bay Area Spot.Us – but will be working closely with folks
    in Los Angeles building up our SoCal presence.

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    What Does This Mean?

    We will continue to move forward. If the Los Angeles launch goes
    smooth there is no reason we couldn’t expand to another city soon. This
    can be done in partnership with another organization (media company,
    university, etc) or just by Spot.Us itself.

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    It has been 10-months since Spot.Us officially launched with support from the Knight Foundation (who remain fantastic supporters). There have been a few highlights in the Spot.Us world.

    We have been observing and learning along the way. Without a doubt
    the concept holds. In fact, we’ve been joined now by other community
    funded reporting sites (Global For Me, PayyAttention, KickStarter, ReelChanges
    and others). But only Spot.Us focuses on local, long form reporting. To
    my knowledge we are also the only one that is situated to work with
    multiple news organizations at a time to collaborate publicly with
    citizens or each other.

    As such – that is what you can expect more of from Spot.Us: Focusing
    on our strengths, providing services to news organizations that want to
    participate, creating a new marketplace for freelancers to sell their
    work to the public or organizations and for community members to take
    control and set the news agenda themselves.

    Agile and Iterative Development Begins Again

    Long time Spot.Us community members will know I am a big believer in agile and iterative development.

    Unfortunately – we’ve strayed from this mission for the last 4-6
    months. But it isn’t for lack of want – more like lack of funds ;)

    I am happy to announce that we have new developers at Spot.Us who
    will be working closely with me to take the site to its full 2.0
    vision. I want to thank Hashrocket
    for the development on the site so far. They are, hands down, a
    FANTASTIC shop to work with. I would recommend them to anyone looking
    for Ruby on Rails work in a heartbeat and I hope to work with them
    again soon. I consider them not just colleagues but friends.

    But for the immediate future I am excited to be working with two
    developers (they’ll be introduced soon) who will work on the day-to-day
    of the site, getting it in a position for what we need to do.

    What We Need To Do

    SO MUCH!

    • There is a list of site development needs (feel free to add, please don’t delete). This includes some redesign and some needed features.
    • There are incredibly ambitious projects to support – pick your favorite. Donating just $10 can make a HUGE difference.
    • Define what Spot.Us is and what Spot.Us isn’t: a higher level
      conversation that we will be having with advisors and the community.
    • Figuring out the three sided market: Community members, reporters
      and news organizations. We are a service organization for all three.
      But three sided markets are tough to pin down. I am convinced it can be
      done.

    Personal Thought and Rant

    Along with the press release I get to write this blog post and it
    would be a missed opportunity not to reflect on the last 1.5 years of
    my life and the last 10 months since Spot.Us officially launched. I am
    more dedicated than ever towards the concept of “community funded
    reporting” and Spot.Us as a tool to accomplish that. I do believe it
    will be a part of journalism’s future no matter what name we call it.

    But I have also come to realize that there is no silver bullet. Journalism needs multiple revenue streams. That is also why I believe “content is King, collaboration is Queen.” It isn’t an either/or scenario with citizen journalism and I’ve spent hours upon hours thinking about what these terms all mean. In the attempt to zen out on all this I’ve learned from many people.
    I want to thank them all and I want to thank everyone that has been a
    positive influence on me and Spot.Us so far. In truth Spot.Us belongs
    to everyone that participates in it. So if you think we are doing okay
    – give yourself a pat on the back. You are making it happen, I’m just a
    conduit.

    Tagged: knight foundation los angeles spot.us
    • I’m beaming with pride. :) The little website is all growns-up and growed’s up! I’m a developer from the Hashrocket consultancy, and one of the original developers on the Spot.Us website, along with Desi McAdam. It makes me so happy to see David’s and Spot.Us’s continued success. This stuff makes a difference!

      One point to add, let’s not forget about two of the best Rails programmers on Earth, and that’s not hyperbole: Joe Ferris and Tammer Saleh. They came in as “guest stars” from another top-notch Rails consultancy, called Thoughtbot. They coded with us on the initial development effort. I still look back that time as a ultra-dense neutron star chock-full of deep hardcore programming excellence. It was a real privilege to work with those guys. Amazingly, we all developed the core functionality of the Spot.Us website in a mere three days! Couldn’t have done it without ’em.

      Continued success to all!

    • Congratulations!

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