Spot.Us has been Acquired By Public Insight Network

Spot.Us + PIN = Rocking

Spot.Us launched in November of 2008. Counting the months of planning (and applying for the Knight News Challenge) that went into the launch and I’ve been working on Spot.Us for almost four years. In that time we’ve pushed boundaries, had many successes and shortcomings which I’ve tried to share along the way. As I’ve always said – Spot.Us will never be perfect. It will never be “done” and that as long as we can strive for something we are making progress.

Today we are taking a big stride by formally being acquired by the Public Insight Network. There is a lot to suss out with this merger but when you sit and think about it the merger makes a lot of sense. Here’s the official press release.

The Public Insight Network (part of American Public Media) was co-founded by my friend Michael Skoler, now at Public Radio International. It’s a software platform (similar to Spot.Us) that has long been at the forefront of how Public Media can interact with and take cues from the public by giving them a means to inform journalism. Individuals can provide insight to make stories more informed, insightful and reflect the community in a truer sense. Spot.Us is built on a relationship with the public giving them a kind of editorial control and influence over what stories should be done. Both create a media that is more responsive and responsible to the public’s needs according to their own volition. Combined we offer both opportunities to readers, creating a more nuanced relationship between a news entity that uses PIN/Spot and the public.

Creating and managing a more nuanced relationship – that’s what “public media” should do.Β I hope that as Spot.Us and PIN merge we can continue to push the boundaries in transparency and participation in the process of journalism so that media organizations can better serve the public.

All of this is under the backdrop of my gig at UC Berkeley’s J-school which is a blast. Spot.Us is my baby, but just as it is time for it to grow up and move out of the house, it was time for me to tackle new problems. Through this merger both are happening.

I will continue working at Berkeley’s J-school and I will remain the founder and a part of the Spot.Us team moving forward. But it is high time for Spot.Us to grow wings and move beyond what any small team can accomplish. I believe under the PIN leadership of Joaquin Alvarado Spot.Us can grow to accomplish much more and I intend to be there as we reach for higher goals and aspirations.

There will be much to write about in the coming months (years). I’m happy to say that Spot.Us is able to fund itself as a project for the first year of this merger and if revenue grows, could do so indefinitely. But for the moment I want to keep this post short and sweet. Spot.Us will continue. For the moment it will be status quo. There will be changes moving forward but we will remain an open platform that will fundraise for independent journalists and news organizations.

And to close it off – an excerpt from the first IdeaLab post I ever wrote about Spot.Us.

As I see it – community funded reporting is low-hanging fruit. The Knight News Challenge is all about doing research and development – the kind that isn’t done elsewhere in the industry.

Now, it may turn out that this low-hanging fruit is poisonous. But aren’t you glad that somebody is at least going to give it a good honest bite to find out? More importantly – aren’t you glad it’s somebody who shares the values of the news industry? Fact is, this idea is going to be a learning process. My goal isn’t to solve the business woes of journalism. I don’t think anybody can do that. But I do intend to taste the fruit of community funded reporting and report back as clearly as possible how it tastes. Fact is, this idea is going to be tried by somebody. My fear, however, is that those who get to it first successfully don’t have journalism’s best interest in mind – but the bottom line.

I’m happy to report back that the fruit isn’t poisonous. In fact, I think it’s time we begin to harvest at a larger scale.

(Image Credit: Jules Brelaz)

29 thoughts on “Spot.Us has been Acquired By Public Insight Network”

  1. David, congratulations on your merger, and kudos for all that you have done to advance the field of crowdfunding for journalism. You should be very proud of what you have accomplished!

  2. Dave — I’m so glad you sidled up alongside public radio and now we’re hitched! I’m curious to see how the PIN/SPOT-US partnership plays out in local newsrooms. PIN was always very careful not to mingle its citizen database with station fundraising departments (for obvious reasons) but now PIN appears ready to provide some kind of financing option to its citizen-participants. This introduction of money to the PIN conversation likely will be welcomed by stations if they can leverage new channels of funding for expensive news work. Good luck and congrats! — M. Marcotte

  3. I have passed this connection along to my nephew, who worked in search engine marketing for IBM but who was in radio. I let him know to watch what you’re doing in case he tires of corporate keywords.

  4. Congratulations, Dave. This looks like an ideal marriage, and I’m delighted for you, for and for journalism generally.

    One question: Will use of now be confined to PIN-affiliated newsrooms?

  5. I’m so excited to see this development. I am proud of you and everything has accomplished now and into the future.

  6. Congrats, Dave! The linkage with public radio seems a natural and with APIN also being a Knight grantee this merger seems like poster child for the Knight program.

    Like others, I’m certain I’ll be saying “I knew him when …” πŸ™‚

  7. Congratulations David!

    What a vindication of the work you’ve done and the journalism you’ve shepherded. This is an exciting moment for you and Spot. I really value the work I was able to accomplish through you and it’s clear that PIN does as well. This is a good reminder to take another look at story ideas I want to publish …

    Oh, will the name stay the same?

  8. @All – again, thanks for all the well-wishes. It really does mean a lot to get all the support.

    @Bill – I jokingly call us combined the (S)PIN – but I don’t think that name will stick πŸ˜‰

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