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A new way to fund video journalism projects

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A new way to fund video journalism projects

Jessica Weiss | May 30, 2013

A new crowdfunding site has entered the independent media scene, this time with the mission of funding video journalism.

Vourno, whose name means “video + journalist,” launched May 20. It works much like other crowdfunding sites, such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, but focuses solely on news, and features its own viewing platform.

Here’s how it works: Journalists who want to produce an investigative, editorial, feature or breaking news story create a project page and pitch video, set a target funding goal and promote their campaign. Each project has thirty days to reach its funding goal. Funding is all or nothing. If a project reaches its goal, the journalist produces the video and then posts it on Vourno. Completed news stories are the journalist’s property, and are free to be shared, sold and posted elsewhere after they’ve been on Vourno for seven days.

So far, only journalists with a U.S. bank account can participate, but Vourno plans to expand overseas in the coming months. One project has been funded so far.

“We love the news and are not happy with the current state of the industry,” entrepreneur Joseph Verdirame, one of the site’s founders, told IJNet. “As entrepreneurs, we saw a great opportunity to fix the problems that exist. In doing so, we focused on two things: 1. How do we get journalists funding so they can stay independent and flourish? 2. How can we remain 100 percent neutral?”

Ultimately, Vourno wants to create a network to showcase the best work and let the public watch, share and rate videos.

Crowdfunding has become an alternative approach for those who want to launch their own projects, but the industry has yet to see a journalism-specific crowdsourcing platform really thrive. IndieGoGo and Kickstarter host journalism-related campaigns, but cast a very wide net. Spot.us specializes in community-funded journalism, but hasn’t funded a project since 2012. Emphas.is, still in beta, offers crowdfunding for photojournalists.

Still, Vourno has lofty visions for the site. It aims to grow ad revenue as content and viewership increase, and to eventually share that revenue with participating journalists.

“The more revenue solutions we can provide, the more successful our platform will be,” Verdirame said.

Jessica Weiss is a Buenos Aires-based writer.

Photo by Flickr user Richard Masoner with a Creative Commons license.

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