hburgnews To Publish Reader-Funded Stories

Brent Finnegan -- January 14th, 2011

Since 2006, hburgnews.com has broken stories, helped to educate voters, fostered discussions, and filled gaps in local news coverage. Although we offer underwriter spaces to help pay for operating costs, no writer for hburgnews.com has ever been paid for the work we do. Because we maintain the site on a volunteer basis, we haven’t been able to do very much original or investigative reporting.

Until now.

Illustration by OndraSoukup via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Illustration by OndraSoukup via Flickr (Creative Commons).

We will continue to operate on a volunteer basis to update the site, but in order to pay reporters for their original work, we are calling on you, the readers, for your financial support.

hburgnews.com is now an approved publisher on spot.us, a non-profit organization created to connect readers, journalists and news organizations, and raise money for special local reporting projects. The spot.us model will allow us to publish the stories you help to fund. Contributions to spot.us are tax-deductible.

The first thing we need from you is a list of the stories you’d like to see published here.

• What is under-reported, mis-reported or goes altogether un-reported in Harrisonburg?
• What angle should be investigated more closely in regards to local environmental reporting?
• Is there an amazing local historical event that hasn’t been told yet?
• How about paying a reporter to submit FOIA requests and write a report?
• What is the local news media missing?

Once we hear from you, we will launch our first fundraising campaign on spot.us. The success of this civic experiment depends entirely on you, the hburgnews community.

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18 Responses to “hburgnews To Publish Reader-Funded Stories”

  1. Renee says:

    Great idea!

    I would like to know more about the “gang activity” in Harrisonburg and how our actual crime statistics and gang involvement ranks against other cities and similar-sized towns. It would be nice to see some interviews with people or families that have been affected by gang charges being tacked on to criminal prosecutions.

  2. Helen Brown says:

    I’d like an investigative report on Paco, the city councilman hitman.

  3. Anne Lorimer says:

    This is brilliant! I can’t wait!

  4. Thanh says:

    I enjoyed the “Council Recaps” that Jeremiah Knupp had done. Although those series covered multiple issues in one posting and didn’t always get super deep into one single issue, I thought they got deep enough to share a basic understanding of what’s going on and more importantly mentioned or covered issues that weren’t being covered, or not widely covered, by media outlets in general. I think these pieces could also spark interest in covering a story in more detail.

    Looking forward to the fundraising campaign.

    • Thanks, Thanh. This is the sort of project that might work with spot.us — A reporter could agree to cover a certain number of City Council meetings, or Planning Commission, or School Board…

      What we would have to decide is how many meetings, and how much is it worth? How much is it worth to a reporter? How much it worth to the community?

    • Deb SF says:

      Credit where it’s due; Alex Sirney did almost all of the council recaps last year, I think. Maybe you’re recalling the 2 in July that Jeremiah did on the Bike/Pedestrian Plan on July 13 and 17th.

      • Thanh says:

        Thanks for the correction Deb. I actually didn’t remember the name of the gentleman who had been covering City Council meetings so I did a search. I only looked at the first story that popped up and didn’t think to look at more posts to make sure. Bad assumption. Thanks!

  5. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    I would like to point out that it’s not too early to begin planning to be part of future reader-supported stories. One easy way to get ready is to sign up for a donor account (it’s as easy as connecting your Facebook profile) and then on the main spot.us page click on “Earn Spot $” – I earned $5 for my donor account by filling out a survey from USC Annenberg.

  6. Keep sharing your story ideas.

    If you don’t want to share a suggestion or news tip publicly, email us.

  7. David Miller says:

    At today’s Americans for Prosperity “town hall” meeting at the library I learned some really fascinating things. Turns out that people who don’t have health insurance don’t want it (turns out there really isn’t anything wrong with our system to fix), Medicade is welfare for the indigent(George Allen), and most exciting, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will put all insurance companies out of business in 8-10 years (and the crowd didn’t cheer, I was perplexed). Sorry if you missed it, the crowd was polite and the speakers mostly entertaining. While I still don’t subscribe to their set of “facts”, it was interesting to see where the tea party and the astroturfers from AFP are coming from.

  8. Emmy says:

    Wow, I didn’t know I don’t want insurance!

  9. David Miller says:

    humor aside though I was disappointed to see people still refusing to accept the horrible defects of the current system. Aside from tort reform (which accounts for less than 1% of costs), and portability (which I’ve found no empirical data to infer cost reduction impacts) no positive fixes were introduced and the victims of the system are still being blamed. I saw good people in the meeting, good people led astray by a group called Americans for Prosperity, funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. All politics aside we really should be able to have a debate about the problems and possible solutions to those problems. Its easy to tour around on the billionaire dime and poke holes in reform measures but its much more difficult to actually affect positive change.

  10. Ross says:

    Talk about a HOT story! Why isn’t anybody talking to Andrew Jones about the alleged local “voter fraud” that he says took place??? It is not part of the charges against him so, it is an open topic he can discuss.

  11. Myron Rhodes says:

    I think Andrew and his attorneys are using the “insanity” defense.

  12. Ross says:

    Insane or not, I would be interested in what he has to say.

    To me it is interesting that this rational person, or non-rational person, picked a non-relevant subject to publicise when he got in trouble for something that has absolutely nothing to do with elections, voting or the Republican party.

    It appeared that he thought whatever he knows about voter fraud was scandalous enough to get him assistance from powerful, influential people who could help him make his “trouble” would go away.

    I think the subject merits investigation. If for no other reason than to prove the allegations as false. He has created a level of doubt. If that doubt is not proven to be true or false, it will linger in the voters minds.

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