This may seem like a minor thing, but a couple of months ago I wrote about just how goddam stupid it was that places like the Ford Foundation were giving “innovation grants” to the Washington Post and the LA Times. Here’s why that sucks:
[…] Consider the fate of the Web site Homicide Watch DC. When it popped up out of nowhere with a way of tracking every murder in Washington, it seemed likely that a big news organization would snap it up or that foundations would trip over themselves to shove money at them.
It hasn’t turned out that way. Two years after it began, Homicide Watch is on hiatus and its founders, Laura and Chris Amico, find themselves with the tin cup out on Kickstarter looking for money to sustain the site.
At the heart of Homicide Watch is its mission statement: “Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.” It’s a remarkable thing to behold — part database, part news site, it also serves as a kind of digital memorial for homicide victims in Washington. Their pictures are published, their cases are followed and their deaths are acknowledged as a meaningful event in the life of the city.
One of the worst possible things that could happen to journalism is having foundations prop up media dinosaurs that refuse to adapt and change, while they ignore sites that could do much more with a fraction of the money it takes to keep the incumbents in business.
Update: Homicide Watch got their $40K on Kickstarter (via) so they’re funded for another year, and will train journalism students to run the site. $40K to run the site for a year, versus $500K from the Ford Foundation to the Post for 4 reporters. Which is a better investment, I wonder?