Krautreporter: Will crowdfunding save journalism?
In Germany a group of investigative reporters frustrated with the growing popularity of tabloid style news and low freelance pay, have used crowdfunding to launch Krautreporter, an online magazine. After just one month, the group has raised 900,000 euro ($1.2 million dollars) to support a staff of 28 experienced journalists for one year. Supporters who donated more than 60 euros will receive a minimum of four ad-free articles a day for a year.
Similar crowdfunded journalism projects have launched; the Netherlands has De Correspondent and the U.S. has Spot.us. Here in Canada increasing economic pressure on news outlets has led to a reduction in full-time staff and an increase in part-time and low-salary positions. The Toronto Star recently came under attack from the union representing Southern Ontario journalists this spring, when it cut full-time editorial positions and attempted to hire a new class of “digital journalist” and offer them lower salaries than print journalists, essentially creating a two-tiered pay scale.
With falling advertising revenue, investigative journalism is in danger of becoming a dying profession, as news outlets become increasingly reluctant to invest resources into researching leads that may never result in a usable story. In Canada we are witnessing a decline in investigate journalism in favour of “curated news” offered by outlets such as the Huffington Post and Metro News that highlight news written by journalists from other outlets, often simply adding a new headline and a few editorial changes.
For the PR profession the death of traditional journalism has meant fewer journalists to pitch to. It is now more important than ever for PR professionals to support quality journalism by building meaningful relationships with media contacts and pitching relevant, newsworthy stories. In essence our success is their success and without a healthy news industry, PR as we know it just wouldn’t exist.