Emerge Magazine 2017
Photo by Cassandra Hanks

Crowdfunding for News: Worth it?

In an increasingly digital world, people are abandoning the traditional network model and turning to alternative ways to fund their news.

As the digital world expands, what we see in the news doesn’t have to be taken at face value. People are challenging what they see, and doing their own research.

The Young Turks is doing exactly the same thing by challenging the mainstream media. They are taking the format of a traditional news outlet, but speaking freely and openly about the topics.

The Young Turks (TYT) is a YouTube channel that launched in 2005. They continually do things their own way by reporting what traditional news outlets fail to cover. With 3.2 million subscribers, they have a large ban base.

The Young Turks have asked their supporters to help them raise two million dollars to fund four new teams of investigative journalists.

Now faced with another challenge of a Trump presidency, we wanted the audience to be part of the process of keeping the administration in check and increasing our commitment to investigative journalism.

Like traditional news outlets, they sit around a desk and talk about relevant topics in the news. However, unlike traditional news outlets, they don’t use teleprompters; they speak candidly about the topics, inserting their own thoughts and feelings.

“Our hosts use their authentic voices,” chief marketing officer for TYT Praveen Singh said.

In an uncertain time for politics in the United States, The Young Turks have turned to crowdfunding to help them raise money for four more investigative journalism teams.

“Now faced with another challenge of a Trump presidency, we wanted the audience to be part of the process of keeping the administration in check and increasing our commitment to investigative journalism,” Singh said.

They have an ambitious goal, with their sights set on raising two million dollars. With 1.7 million dollars raised since their campaign began in December, they’re over 75 per cent of the way to their goal.

But Singh said two million dollars is a small amount of money when compared to the budgets of mainstream news outlets. “After we put together a very lean budget, we found that we can support one journalist, the required production team, and travel expenses for about $500,000. $2 million will get us an additional four field teams,” she said.

Jeff 4 Justice is a YouTube creator who speaks about relevant, and sometimes controversial, topics. With over 10,000 subscribers, Jeff made a video warning people against donating to TYT. He expresses concern about whether or not TYT need the crowdfunding money.

“I wouldn’t contribute to that, because they are already financed. Surely they must be getting some sort of money from monetizing their videos from YouTube. And in addition to that, you’ve got a base of people who already pay for the subscription of their services. So why, on top of that, would you feel the need to give them any additional funding in the sense of a crowdfunding campaign?” Jeff said.

As a YouTube creator, they are entitled to some of the money earned from the ads that are played on their videos. This is known as AdSense.

TYT also has a subscription service that viewers can sign up for. The subscriptions range from $10 a month, to $1,000 a month.

TYT does not publish any sort of financial documentation, so viewers and donors cannot be sure how much money they make. “I don’t think they have bad intentions, just irresponsible intentions. They have no obligation to be accountable,” he said.

Singh explained that viewers donate to their cause because they trust the TYT brand. “The audience trusts us to tell them the truth, and we’ve proved it to them over and over. As we always say to our fans, we are not TYT, you are TYT,” she said.

“We’re upfront with the audience about what we can do with the money we raise,” Singh said.

TYT have begun to hire more teams since they began raising money for them.

There are no financial documents available for the public to see at this time.

Find TYT on YouTube at YouTube.com/TheYoungTurks and Jeff on YouTube at YouTube.com/jeff4justice.

All figures mentioned are accurate at the time of publication.

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Alison Schill

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As a genuinely uninteresting person, she doesn’t have much to say about herself. When she grows up, she aspires to be a guinea pig hoarder and a fast-food critic.

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