Journalism that facilitates public discourse and engagement: an examination of case studies on crowd funded reporting

The purpose of this study is to determine whether crowdfunding, a method of financing reporting, provides a forum that promotes public discussion and social action. This study also looked at how crowdfunding fits into the current business models for financing journalism and supporting investigative reporting. Current literature reviews how crowdfunding affects the work of a journalist, how it invigorates business with an influx of cash, and why people are motivated to give, but it does not explore crowdfunding’s potential as a new medium for facilitating public discourse. The ability for civil society to communicate openly and freely is what ensures democracy and creates the conditions for social action. Using Habermas’s public sphere theory as a framework, this study examines several crowdfunding case studies. Interviews conducted with news producers and those who donated to their projects explore the contribution of crowdfunding as a means of facilitating participation and enabling individuals to contribute to the public debate.