Investigative journalism on demand

Uncoverage, a new crowdfunding project, helps the public sponsor accountability reporting

Resources for investigative reporters are increasingly thin on the ground. Which is why technologist Israel Mirsky created Uncoverage, a new platform that allows people to support stories on topics they care about.

Journalists craft pitches for the site and members of the public can choose to sponsor whichever articles or reporters most interest them. Reporters will then work on their stories with Uncoverage’s editors. There will be no paywall.

“I believe in investigative journalism as the immune system of a functioning capitalist democracy,” Mirsky said, but “the technology trend in media has been almost universally bad for [its] business model.” Uncoverage is his way of getting people to acknowledge the diminishing funding available for in-depth investigative reporting—and to pick up the slack.

Although it relies on public contributions, Mirsky insists Uncoverage is different from more traditional crowdfunding projects. “If you were to crowdfund something on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, it would be a one-time creative project,” he said. “You set up the description, you pass around the campaign to your friends and following, and you solicit funds for executing that particular story or initiative.” Uncoverage is designed to be used on an ongoing basis. People can not only sponsor a particular pitch, but also subscribe to fund whatever pitches are made on a specific topic—say financial corruption, human rights, or child welfare services.

And they can subscribe to support particular reporters too. “In the same way that a journalist has a Twitter following, and maybe a Facebook following, or a Tumblr following, I believe that they should have funding following,” Mirsky said. “That they should be collecting people who believe in the work that they do, and want to serve as patrons for that individual journalist. “

Uncoverage already has half a dozen journalists attatched for its first run (including Francesca Borri), and hopes to launch in January 2014.

To cover startup costs, Mirsky is running a crowdfunding campaign, on Indiegogo, until January 3.

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Edirin Oputu is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @EdirinOputu Tags: , ,