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Crowdfunding your own media project

Published: 7 November 2012

Despite its current popularity and possibilities, crowdfunding is not a new concept. Neither is the idea of gathering money for your media and journalism projects. One only has to look at journalist and entrepreneur David Cohn who started Spot.us in 2008 or Kickstarter that opened its doors a year later and has since seen the successful funding of some significant media projects.

Crowdfunding your own media project
By Darren Gilbert

However, to say that these two ‘power houses’ - Spot.us was so successful that it was acquired by American Public Media and its Public Insight Network this year and Kickstarter has been referred to as the poster child of crowdfunding projects – are the best options for your media project would be a mistake. The popular of crowdfunding has seen a flurry of activity as new sites stake their claim. Here are a few other platforms that one should consider when looking for funds for your next project.


This platform is specifically for photojournalists. It’s also currently still in beta form. However, as Amanda Lin Costa states on MediaShift, Emphasis.is has signed a partnership with Reporters Without Borders, a move which surely lays the foundations for a solid reputation going forward. Of course, as with anything that asks for funds, emphasis needs to be placed on the significance, relevance and possible outcomes of any project.

For Emphasis.is, the procedure of raising funds begins with a story proposal and detailed budget sent through for review to a board of advisors consisting of photography and journalism experts. Only once it’s been approved by them are the public given a chance to decide whether they want to fund the project or not.

“By agreeing to back a story, for a minimum contribution of $10, you are making sure that the issues you care about receive the in-depth coverage they deserve,” states the website. “In exchange you are invited along on the journey.” It needs to be noted that the project needs to be completely funded before the set deadline in order to give it the go-ahead, something which is not needed for a platform such as Indiegogo.

One particularly interesting project is one titled ‘Soweto’ and involves Swedish photojournalist, Per-Anders Pettersson planning to move to the township for a couple of months to document the changes from within. He promises a workshop for serious supporters of his project that will see them experience what it is like to work as a photojournalist.


This platform isn’t as specific as Emphasis.is and can be argued that it’s not as media-centric as others. However it does allow for more general projects and those interested in documentary assignments. One such example that is currently featured is the ‘Turn it Up! Guitar documentary’, a project which filmmarkers, Robert Radler and Doug Forbes have been working on for five years. It aims to explore “the electric guitar, and the unique place it holds in global pop culture, as well as the hearts of those who are dedicated players”.

Now, when it comes to the raising of funds for your project, there are two options. The first is the ‘fixed funding’ option. Take this one and if you fail to raise funds for your project by the end of your deadline, you are required to return the money to your ‘investors’. The second option, ‘flexible funding’ allows you to keep any funds you get should you fail to reach your initial goal.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should just settle for as much money as you can get and disregard your initial objectives. As stated on the website, “Flexible Funding campaigns that meet their goal are only charged 4% as our platform fee, whereas campaigns that do not meet their goal are charged 9%.”


This is an intriguing crowdfunding site, and like Emphasis.is, focuses on a specific media. That medium is online TV as Mobcaster focuses on finding, funding and broadcasting independent television online. In other words, if you want to try your hand at creating your own television show, this is the place to visit.

It also has quite an extensive FAQ section which covers just about everything you need to know about creating, managing and garnering funding for your show. “If the TV makers have audience support and reach the funding goal they themselves have set within the timeframe they themselves have established they get to produce their pilot,” states Mobcaster “ If they don’t, no money changes hands, no TV show is produced. It's that simple. With their pilot in hand, they can then go through the same process to fund a season.”

What do you think about crowdfunding? Would you consider doing it? Let us know below.

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