Contributoria 'Topics' allow the public to commission stories
NGOs, media outlets and commercial companies can now set briefs for independent journalists using the collaborative publishing platform
Contributoria, the platform for crowdfunded, collaborative writing, has launched a new feature enabling organisations and individuals to suggest story ideas for its members to write.
"The whole premise around Contributoria is that it's an open journalism platform," explained Matt McAlister, co-founder of the network he launched in 2013.
"We've done really well with collective crowdfunding... the thing that was missing was the ability for people to suggest what they want journalists to cover for the whole world to see."
Contributoria Topics launched yesterday with the support of 10 human rights and press freedom organisations, including Open Society Foundations, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and UNESCO.
McAlister said the Contributoria team was keen to "bring some other voices into the platform", and so reached out to various NGOs to suggest topics around the theme of free speech.
Between them, the non-profits have suggested subjects from LGBT rights and economic development to how female harassment online varies across cultures, to which journalists can respond with a story proposal and fee.
Screengrab from contributoria.com
The platform is also working with media outlets including The Atlantic and PBS Mediashift.
Contributoria launched as a prototype in September 2013 before a public release in January 2014, allowing independent journalists to pitch ideas and collaborate on stories.
Once a proposal has financial backing, members of the Contributoria community can work together on the editing and publishing process.
Since Journalism.co.uk last wrote about Contributoria in October 2014, the number of registered writers has leaped from 1,500 to almost 4,000.
The platform "spread beyond the UK" at the end of last year, McAlister said. "The coverage is really truly global, we have a lot of writers in South Africa in particular."
Asked why he though membership had boomed over the last few months, he said: "I think it's that the premise [of Contributoria] resonates with journalists".
"You can pitch story ideas that aren't subject to the editorial agenda, and that is really compelling."
Over the course of the next year, McAlister said the teams plans to spend time "getting the dynamics right to make sure we're working for writers first", with features in the pipeline including in-line paragraph commenting.
However, he also said they wanted to "spend more time working with partners," and that there may be future issues themed around specific issues.
Nearly 10,000 members have supported more than 500 articles on Contributoria since January last year.
Update: This article was updated to clarify the number of registered writers in October 2014, and the nature of the backing provided to Contributoria articles, mentioned in the last line.
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