The new business models of journalism are having a profound affect on a variety of ideals of journalism:
Crowd-funding is becoming a more prominent alternative to the more traditional capital raising models. Websites like Beacon Reader and Patreon present journalists and creators with the opportunity to upload their stories and have readers directly support their work. Crowd-funding removes the media’s dependency on revenue from advertising or corporate giants, resulting in more freedom for journalists and news that becomes more tailored to its readership. Readers can be rewarded with privileged access or the ability to make suggestions for future content. This is known as rewards-based crowd-funding and can be beneficial for several reasons. It connects the author with their audience, and allows them to award their readership’s patronage in a cost-effective way. Donation-based crowd funding doesn’t offer any return, but is incredibly effective for disaster-relief or tragedy-support stories. The final type of crowd-funding is equity-based, where financial investment is traded for a percentage of the company, and a suitable business model should be agreed upon.
There’s always been scrutiny over a media organisation’s relationship with investors and advertisers and the stories they publish, publishing lengthy “puff pieces” or avoiding harder-hitting stories in the interest of preserving business relationships. Crowd-funding seems to free the media from censoring material, but only to a limited extent. At the end of the day, journalists have bills to pay and mouths to feed, and the temptation to bend ethical principles to satisfy investors ‘ interests will always be prevalent, regardless of who the investors are.