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The Kickstarter Chronicles

A photographer's Antarctica trip gets the iBook treatment and PBS finds another way to appeal to viewers like you
July 20, 2012

Each week, dozens of journalistic endeavors turn to Kickstarter for funding. Pitching media projects to this online community brings another meaning to the concept “public interest journalism”; success depends on how intrigued people are by the pitch. From the hugely popular to the barely noticed, CJR’s Kickstarter Chronicles is a look through some of these journalistic proposals.

I am a sucker for anything Antarctica-related, so photographer Bob Smith’s project, “Antarctica – Land of Ice” particularly appealed to me. Smith, from Colorado, specializes in nature photography, and several trips to Antarctica have left him with over 40,000 photos of the scenery and wildlife. He hopes to put the best of those into an interactive book for the iPad, which will include videos and maps.

Smith is hoping to raise at least $6,500, which will go towards a graphic artist and a Javascript programmer to assist with technical elements of the project. Any money remaining after that, he says, will go towards publicity.

Deadline is August 11 at 8:54 a.m.

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GigaOm’s Janko Roettgers suggested that Kickstarter campaigns may well replace pledge drives on public radio. Can the same be said of public television? PBS SoCaL hopes so. The Southern California PBS affiliate launched a campaign on July 17 to raise $32,445 for its online “one-stop shop” for election coverage, called “Checked and Balanced.”

Pledge rewards include standard PBS fare such as stickers, posters, and, of course, tote bags, and the campaign could be a great way to keep those PBS pledge drives off the airwaves. If, that is, it’s successful. Right now, it’s quite the longshot, with only $50 pledged by one lonely backer (not even enough for a tote bag!).

That’ll probably change once PBS SoCaL officially announces the campaign soon. According to spokeswoman Bonnie Winings, the campaign is a sort of “test run” for the station to see how effective a Kickstarter campaign could be. I’m not sure why the station launched the campaign on Kickstarter before the announcement, but hopefully newly hired senior interactive editor Michelle Lecours (who also writes for Long Beach’s Signal Tribune) will be able to work out some of those kinks.

Deadline is August 16 at 10:29 a.m.

Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison.