Users can either contribute monetarily or through publishing sources to a story that they feel should be investigated further or pitch a story that they feel should be investigated further. The application assists the user in gaining funding. Once funding is achieved, the app hires a journalist to investigate the matter further and write a piece suitable for publishing. This is an open source project to help fund journalists' costs for investigation.
This application was founded by David Cohn in 2008 and unique visitor traffic varies between 2,000-8,000 unique visitors per month. There are currently approximately a dozen stories seeking funding. Hundreds have already been funded and published. Some have been funded and were unable to find a place for publishing and are available on the Spot.us site. Spot.us was acquired by Minnesota Public Radio dba American Public Media.
This is an open source, nonprofit application that welcomes developers to use their code to create similar sites to help increase attention to issues that are not in the forefront of the national news, or in many cases, even the local news.
The app is not trying to be different, it is encouraging others to use their code to support the cause and help people.
Users can support reporting by making a donation, start a story by providing details, or offer to publish a story in a news source.
Registering as a community member takes the user directly to a recent story that needs funding. Users can also start a story in this role by clicking a link in the header. To create a story, users provide a headline, short pitch, long description, category, qualifications (if any), requested amount of money, what kind of deliverables will be offered (text, audio, video, photos), and then the user may embed a video, add images and insert editorial deadlines. The site offers tips on providing all of the necessary information and files.
Journalists and Publishers are sought to spread the word once the funding is received for the investigation.
The app is relatively easy to use if the user has all of the necessary facts and information to draw from to create the story.
First and last name, password, and email address are required. The user also has to identify whether they are a community member, reporter, or news publisher.
It is unclear how much it costs to start a story or if a percentage is maintained by the site to cover overhead and expenses. This should be transparent and the information should be easy to find. If a user must make a payment to submit a story or if a percentage of the money made through donations is charged, this information is not readily or easily available.
Users may make donations through PayPal or "free credit" opportunities by taking surveys.
Users who live in communities in which they feel there are important issues that are being overlooked, may benefit from submitting their stories to Spot.us to acquire funding for a journalistic investigation and assistance in publishing the story, thus bringing attention to a situation or problem.