The folks at St. Paul-Minn.-based American Public Media (APM) announced today they have acquired David Cohn's pioneering experiment in crowd-funding journalism -- Spot.us. They're going to integrate it with the Public Insight Network -- a system for seeking and sharing the wisdom of listeners-readers that has the potential to become a news-based social network.
Integrating the Spot.us system means PIN can start to experiment with seeking "crowd funding" of specific civic-journalism initiatives. It means Spot.us will have a much larger base of potential users than Cohn has been able to garner through remarkable entrepreneurship.
But most important, it signals that a savvy, mission-focused media organization -- APM is the non-profit parent of Minnesota Public Radio and a powerhouse in public-radio programming -- is ready to test a middle ground among content that's free, underwriter-sponsored or subscription only.
One of Cohn's innovations has been inviting Spot.us users to "pay" for content by giving their attention to marketers -- filling out surveys or doing other work. This may not be for everyone, but the idea that we all have a "persona," that we should control the attributes of our persona, and that our persona might have value which can be shared with us -- is an important insight that Spot.us and APM can explore. (See: http://www.papertopersona.org)