Pew Research Center Reports: Crowdfunded Journalism is a Small but Growing Addition to Publicly Driven Journalism

On Wednesday, the Pew Research Center released its new report that reveals details about journalism crowdfunding.

Pew Research CenterThe center stated that it has conducted a study of 658 journalism-related projects that were proposed on Kickstarter from April 28, 2009, to September 15, 2015. It stated that from Kickstarter’s April 2009 launch through the end of that year, 17 journalism projects received funding. That number more than tripled just a year later, to 64 projects in 2010. Growth continued, reaching 168 funded projects in 2014 and 173 in the first nine months of 2015. 

It was noted that the amount of money put into these projects grew as well, from $49,256 in 2009 and $263,352 in 2010 to $1,743,668 in the first nine months of 2015. The upward trend in the number of people contributing financially to these journalism projects – rising from 792 in 2009 to 25,651 in 2015.

Other key findings of the report included the following:

  • crowdfunding journalism 5The majority (71%) of funded projects over the seven-year period analyzed were produced by individuals not tied to any journalistic organization – either alone (43%) or as a part of a small group (29%).
  • Established media organizations such as ProPublica and the Boston Review accounted for 22%, while other types of institutions such as public schools and private universities made up the remaining 7%.
  • While Kickstarter allows project submissions from 18 countries, fully 84% asked for donations in U.S. currency. Most (64%) were to be conducted in the U.S., while 36% proposed overseas work. In total, funded projects were conducted in at least 64 different counties. 
  • With a median of 54 backers each, the funded projects over this seven-year time span varied dramatically in focus, but many were for longer, more comprehensive works in the form of books, magazine articles and documentaries. Together these types of projects accounted for 43% of the funded projects and 36% of the total dollars raised.

The Pew Research Center explained that overall, the journalism projects produced and revenue gained from these crowdfunded ventures is still a drop in the bucket compared with the original reporting output that occurs on any given day and the roughly $20 billion in revenue generated by newspaper ads alone.

Amy MitchellDirector of Journalism Research, Amy Mitchell, added:

“In today’s evolving digital era, the growth we’re seeing represents a new, niche segment of nontraditional journalism driven in large part by public interest and motivation. It brings voice and visibility to efforts that might well otherwise go unnoticed or unfunded, and adds yet another way for the public to engage.”

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