The combination of crowd-source journalism payment pioneer Spot.us with the non-profit Public Insight Network (PIN) — which is testing the waters of what could become a news-focused sharing service — is intriguing for the possibilities. Look to St. Paul, Minn.-based American Public Media — which owns PIN — to start innovating and testing. There are two RJI fellowship connections — Spot.us founder David Cohn incubated the project in 2009-2010, in the same year that PIN founder Michael Skoler was also an RJI fellow.
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)