Beacon is a new crowdfunding site that lets you fund news projects and have a stake in the media agenda.
The site was first set up to help journalists fund personal projects they wanted to complete, but it’s now being used by bigger outlets such as the Huffington Post and TechDirt.
The HuffPo used the funding site to raise $40,000 (£25,000) so it could pay a journalist to cover the Ferguson uprising over 12 months. Similarly, TechDirt used Beacon to raise $70,000 (£43,000) so it could cover the net neutrality debate.
Readers pay a subscription, starting at $5 (£3) a month, to the writing projects they’re interested in across a huge variety of subjects, from climate control, science and entertainment to space exploration, social issues and politics.
This subscription payment will be spread across the various projects, although Beacon says the majority of the subscription will go towards the specific project the reader expressed an interest in.
A proportion of this fee also goes into a bonus pot that is shared across the writers who get the most reader recommendations from their articles.
Beacon co-founder Dan Fletcher said: “We’re all about offering an alternative to the ad-supported content model. Ads support content, but only content that’s generally relevant to a very broad audience. There’s a premium put on page views, and as a result a premium put on content that generates pageviews.”
Whether the idea of crowdfunding the news will be a success remains to be a pretty heated debate, with some supporters saying it’ll lessen the pressure on publishers to sell ads.
However, those against the initiative say it may lower the quality of the news and allow anyone to report on any event, whether they are experienced or not.
Almost 250 writers have been using Beacon since it launched – a number that has far outstripped the 28 it launched with. Essentially, anyone can sign up to become a writer – you just need to have an idea that you’re willing to explain.
Beacon has raised over $500,000 (£310,000) to pay its writers so far, in projects ranging from a couple of hundred dollars up to $70,000 (£45,000).