Coming soon: the next stage in the evolution of RepJ

It’s been six weeks since RepJ reporter Bonnie Obremski departed Northfield. Lots has been happening behind the scenes since then to figure out how to best continue RepJ. Here’s the plan.

spotus.logoWith continued support from the new Center for Sustainable Journalism at KSU in Georgia, there’s going to be a Northfield version of Spot.Us, a community-funded reporting project operating in the Bay Area of California under the guidance of founder David Cohn. Their software platform is open-source and, with a lot of help from Ruby on Rails guru, Jared Mehle, I got it up and running yesterday. (continued)

RepJ was based on the idea that a community could fund its own independent reporter. Here in Northfield, the position was funded initially by a grant for a year, with the expectation that funding for year 2 would come from the community.

Spot.Us is based on the idea that community-funded reporting could be used to fund individual stories or beats, that many people in a community, both professional journalists as well as citizen journalists, might have the interest and ability to produce local content if they could get paid for it. Under the Spot.Us model, these people make ‘pitches’ for their stories or beats, name their asking price, and then wait to see if there’s enough community financial support to warrant working on them. If so, the finished content can then be published in a variety of ways. There are more aspects to Spot.Us, so be sure to visit their site if you’re interested in knowing more, including David Cohn’s six-month Spot.Us progress report published last week.

Here in Northfield, we’ll have a separate web site for this project, with a new name, not RepJ.  It won’t be part of Locally Grown, though we’ll certainly promote it here. 

Part of the plan is that the content created could be published in a variety of places, depending on the medium and the interests of the authors and local media organizations.  Content could end up on LoGroNo,, Northfield News, KYMN radio, NTV, other websites, or some combination of all of them.

I’m being paid as a consultant (project manager) for this project to help get it off the ground.  That may end soon or it may continue. As you might have guessed, we’re making this up as we go. 

I’ll stop now and take questions.


  1. Sam Friedman said:


    I have my doubts about this business model, but I’d like to try it out. When can I start pitching my stories?

    May 17, 2009
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Sam, you can start pitching as soon as the site is up, hopefully by the end of May and maybe sooner.

    I think it’s going to be easier to get funded if you can pitch either a series of stories or an actual beat for a period of time. I’d like to experiment getting commercial sponsorships for beats/article series. A somewhat related example of this is the First National Bank of Northfield‘s sponsorship of the NAG’s theater season.

    I also think it might be possible to get foundation funding for a series or a beat, especially for content that Northfielders might not want to know about (and therefore, unlikely to contribute money towards) but that they need to know about.

    May 18, 2009
  3. David Cohn said:

    @Sam: It is an experiment – but as Griff noted below, its about being flexible. More than anything Spot.Us is just a platform that allows people to collaborate together.

    You can have 30 people collaborate via the site and all work on a story donating time.

    Or you can have 30 people collaborate via the site and all work on the story donating money.

    Or you can find sponsorship (as Griff noted), etc. I’m excited to see how Griff and LocallyGrown use the tool!!

    May 18, 2009

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