Beacon: The New Face of Crowdfunding Journalism


According to the Pew Research Center, the this media outlet launched in 2013. The project was a platform dedicated to crowdfunding journalism. Initially, the company followed a subscription model, but as it evolved, its main revenue came from partnerships and matching funds.  

“Readers would pay $5 a month for access to about a dozen stories each week,” as stated by the NiemanLab website.

The company had a subscription model where, 60 percent of the amount of money paid by subscriptions, was going to one “favorite” writer and the rest was split among a network of 28 writers.

Quick enough, the company found that most readers did not want to pay the amount of money requested by subscriptions, instead they wanted to pay a fair amount of money for one-time payments only.

On the word of the NiemanLab website, “The site still allows recurring monthly support, but 70 percent of donors choose to fund a one-time story – the old model – rather than sign up for an ongoing subscription.”

Recently, the company found new ways to increased revenue and according to the NiemanLab report, Beacon planned to do partnerships and matching funds.

“Every project submitted on Beacon and tagged ‘Immigration’ will receive one-for-one matching funds,” the company said, matching up to $3 million.

By constantly changing its policies and innovating its media techniques. Beacon seems to be a survivor, in a world of media companies emerging and sinking all the time.    

As said by Dan Fletcher, Beacon’s founder, “Beacon is focusing on immigration now because people who’d funded projects on the site in the past consistently said that they wanted to see more coverage of the issue, beyond the usual focus on border walls and presidential candidate soundbites.”

Consistent with the NiemanLab report, “The site first experimented with matching funds on climate change stories and raised more than $90,000.”

The company is economically interested in covering immigration, due to its investors, who are attracted in funding projects related to it. But also, Beacon founders are looking forward to the covering on topics like health and education.

As Laura Hazard Owen wrote in the Nieman report,“Beacon itself is venture-backed, and raised a seed round from funders including Y Combinator in 2014.”

Confirming the NiemanLab report, company leaders does not want to talk about how much money they have raised on revenue at the moment, but said that they have been working with more than 300 journalists and newsrooms on projects, paying out a payroll up to $1.1 million, since they launched in 2013.

“We’ll still be your go-to experts on crowdfunding,” … “but we’ll also be bringing in bigger backers to match reader dollars,” said Fletcher on behalf of the company.

Although the company was earning a substantial amount of money, according to the NiemanLab report, on Sept. 12, 2016, Fletcher announced the company was shutting down.

Following, the online news source, Oct. 13 was the last day for the crowdfunding platform company.

Beacon, gave no reasons for its closing, but stated, “We are proud of the work Beacon journalists have done, and wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.”

Victor Santos a senior at the University of New Mexico majoring in communication and Spanish.


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