Crowdfunded Journalism

Byline Vocab

Exclusives and Milestone Goals

An Exclusive is a journalistic assignment that requires a lump-sum payment to the journalist to make happen. The journalist can set a series of Milestone Goals within each Exclusive.

Let's say a journalist wants to raise £8,000 to thoroughly investigate a particular topic. He first asks for £1,000 to write the first two articles;the another £2,000 to conduct further investigations and write more articles;and then another £5,000 after that to hire researchers to help produce a real in-depth expose.

Each of these is a Milestone Goal along the way to the £8,000. When each Milestone Goal is hit, the journalist will receive a payout. If the journalist raises £1,500 in total, then he can receive the first £1,000 and write the first two articles - but he can receive the first £1,000 and write the first two articles - but he won't receive anything more unless he hits the next Milestone Goal.

Byline does not sit on any of your money, by the way. Your credit card will only be charged when the journalist's next Milestone Goal is hit.

Columns

A Column is an ongoing series of journalistic work that solicits small,consistent monthly payments to the journalist. The objective is for the journalist to gather enough supporters to be able to earn a salary from it.

The work could even be something that the journalist was going to write anyway - a blog, for instance. Your payment could be considered as a tip to the journalist for their work. Many bloggers have big followings, but receive virtually nothing for their efforts. To such bloggers, Byline says 'let us be your tip jar!'

Journalists writing Columns set particular goals, for example '£1,000 per month and I will provide extra video and audio reports'. Unlike with Exclusives, these goals are not all-or-nothing. Even if the journalist only receives £10 per month, he can still write if he wants to.

A Journalist is anyone who posts work on Byline, and a Supporter is anyone who funds it. We define 'journalism' very broadly. Video, audio, photography - all are welcome.

A Pledge is the commitment from a Supporter to pay a sum of money to a Journalist.

A Reward is anything a Journalist provides to the Supporter in return for his/her Pledge – extra content, the ability to ask questions, signed books, unique experiences, and so on.

A Paywall is something we don't like. We think it means death in the age of social media and sharing. So when you pay on Byline, you are paying for rewards and engagement with the journalist, rather than the article itself. Anyone can read any Byline article, any time.

What is Byline?

Byline is a platform that crowdfunds and hosts journalism.

Byline looks like a newspaper, but it is not one. There is no Chief Editor, and no advertising. Journalists may write whatever they want, and get paid for their work by receiving pledges from readers. Our goal is to facilitate completely independent journalism that pays the journalist.

We also allow each reader to create his/her own ‘personal paper’. Once our beta stage is over, we will make personalised recommendations based on each reader’s taste, in order to give everyone their own home page. To know more about why we are doing this, please read this article: ‘Welcome To Byline’.

What Are the Advantages of Byline?

For journalists: Byline offers the possibility of a regular income, and funding for exclusives you always wanted to pursue. We also offer tools via which you can engage readers, and a distribution platform to grow your overall audience; we will match you with readers interested in the topic you want to cover. There is no all-powerful editor, and no pressure from advertisers – you can write whatever you want, as long as there are a few people in the world willing to pay for it to exist. Journalists with top-quality backgrounds are already signing up.

For readers: Get beyond journalism that merely serves the business interests of the proprietor. Get beyond mindless clickbait and 'sponsored content'. And get your own newspaper- Byline recommends work based on your tastes, unbundling 'the news' to give you only what you want.

And in return for payment, you can gain benefits from the journalist, such as exclusive content, the right to ask questions, signed books, or unique experiences.

FAQ for Readers

What is your ideological bias?

We’re a platform, and we therefore have none. Our journalists though can be as biased as they want, and we even encourage that. In an ideal world, we’d have Richard Dawkins and the Pope both writing on Byline.

Having said that: we are biased towards journalistic independence. In today's world, that is a bias in itself! Most if the media shamelessly serves special interests - the owners, the advertisers, or political masters. In this respect then we are pro-democracy, anti-monopoly, and anti-cronyist.

We don't think it is 'left wing' or 'right wing' to be like this.

You want me to pay for JOURNALISM? Are you crazy?

Journalism costs something. It takes time and effort on behalf of the creator, and in many cases, it involves financial cost – a train ticket to visit an interviewee, for instance. In the 21st century, so many people have become accustomed to not paying anything for journalism, and to thinking that advertising will take care of all those costs. Unfortunately, this is not the case, especially now that Google and Facebook are claiming a huge slice of the advertising pie for themselves.

As a result, newsrooms are cutting jobs all the time. News media revenue is down 35% in the USA in the past decade; right now, British newspaper revenue is contracting at 7% per year. Something needs to change, or there won’t be any news at all in the long run - other than lousy advertorials.

We don’t think that all journalism is worth paying for – anything that begins ‘The Top Ten Reasons Why…’, for instance. So we leave it to you to decide who and what you think is ‘worth it’. But when you see someone producing great work, please support them – they won’t be able to continue otherwise.

It is no longer ‘normal’ to pay nothing for music and films. Journalism should go the same way, and we want to help get it there.

What do I get in return for paying?

Other than the ‘warm glow’ of being a good person (and the ability to brag on social media that the great piece your friends are reading exists because of you!), the journalists you fund will give you rewards. For example: pay £2 a month and receive a ‘thank you’ credit at the bottom of the piece; pay £5 and ask the journalist a question; pay £7 and see extra material such as interview notes; pay £15 and talk to the journalist on Skype, and so on. This is up to the journalist of course, so make sure to check out what they’re offering.

How is Byline different from other crowdfunded journalism sites?

Byline is a news media platform that makes use of crowdfunding, rather than just a crowdfunding site. We offer an end-to-end service to pay for the news, host it, and distribute it. Once our beta stage is over, we will match readers with journalists whose work they are more likely to be interested in, Netflix-style.

Rather than paywall articles, we enable journalists to provide rewards to their paying readers instead (you could call this ‘freemium’). Why? We think only certain niche content can be successfully paywalled, and also, rewards help build the relationship between journalist and reader. Byline provides tools to help with this process – the supporters' cafe feed, for example.

How do I get my rewards?

The most basic reward is access to the journalist’s activity feed, where you can interact with him/her. Other likely intangible rewards include the right to ask questions to the journalist, suggest future content, access additional material, participate in Google Hangouts, have Skype chats, and so on. These can all be arranged on Byline itself.

In the case of tangible rewards - signed books, DVDs, t-shirts, and so on, we ask the journalist to factor the cost of postage into the price of the reward. If you live in a different country to the journalist, postage may cost more; in such cases, the journalist may ask you to pay the difference (via PayPal, for example). We are working on building in a postage cost calculator to our site though - so please trust in us that we will resolve this issue soon.

Where are the adverts?

There are none! Great, isn’t it?

How much of what I pay goes to the journalist?

85 percent. Byline takes 15 percent. This pays our costs and hopefully gives us some kind of profit (we are a business, after all).

Our cut will also enable us to set up an investigative journalism fund. Sometimes, going public with a call for crowdfunding will give the story away; in the case of a story we think to be strongly in the public interest, we will put up the money ourselves.

For the first three months of our existence though, our commission will be zero percent.

Why ‘Byline’?

‘Byline’ refers to the space at the top of a newspaper article that gives the journalists name. Calling ourselves Byline signifies that we value the journalist. We aren’t a newspaper with a specific brand, rather, we’re a platform that helps each journalist become a brand.

What is ‘my personal paper’?

We think that the concept of the ‘newspaper’ needs an update. Instead of giving you this arbitrary bundle of information chosen by an editor, we take your personal tastes into account and give you more of what you want – plus a little of what you don’t agree with. It’s fine for Netflix or Amazon to say ‘you clicked on X, therefore we know you’ll like Y’ but at Byline, we don’t want to be responsible for helping deepen ideological divisions. We therefore aim to serve you up a few articles that will challenge your opinions or piss you off, mixed in with the stuff we think you’ll like.

Can I become a journalist too?

We’re in our beta stage, and for now, we’re just running Byline with a small number of journalists. If you have an important story to tell though, please contact us at [email protected]. After we’ve gotten past the beta stage, we’ll open Byline up to everyone.

When will my card be charged?

In the case of an Exclusive, you will only be charged when the next Milestone Goal is hit. So if the journalist fails to reach the next Milestone Goal, you will not pay anything.

When you pay for a Column, you will be charged at the beginning of the month, regardless of how much backing the journalist has received from other supporters.

Will my personal information be safe on Byline? What is Byline’s privacy policy?

Of course, we do take information security very seriously, and we will do everything we can to make sure your information is not compromised. We will also of course never sell your information to any third party.

For further details, please see privacy policy.