How to make your journalism project succeed on Kickstarter

There were lots of little cupcakes and big hugs in the wake of Kickstarter success for Laura and Chris Amico, who last month surpassed their $40,000 fundraising goal to keep Homicide Watch D.C. running. The Amicos recently moved up here to Cambridge for Laura’s 10-month Nieman-Berkman Fellowship at Harvard, so they had to let go of their two-year-old reporting project to mark every homicide in Washington, D.C.

Laura and Chris will be the first to tell you that, elated and grateful as they are about the funding, Kickstarter success doesn’t by any means guarantee success in the long term. “We need to find a path to sustainability for the D.C. site, independent of Kickstarter,” Chris told me. Kickstarter, if successful, gives projects a one-time crowdfunded cash infusion to sustain a project with a fixed end-point — but it’s not a business model for journalism. The work of most newsrooms is intended to be ongoing and not completable in the way, say, a single documentary film or album can be completed.

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