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.
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.
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.
- I first announced that I was working on Spot.Us (winning a Knight News Challenge my advice on that here) . The site launched five months later.
- Six month “state of the spot“ after our official launch – including a list of some thing’s we’d been up to
- Spot.Us starts to build a strategic business plan (as a community). – We will have another one of these open brainstorm meetings soon!
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.
- Launching a site and being iterative
- Eliminating the fear of being open and iterative
- Growing a community and being iterative
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
- 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
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