“Crowdfunding” journalism? Kind of sounds familiar…

Here’s the latest buzzy idea for saving journalsm: Be Obama.

Crowdfunding, as described here is essentially allowing (hopefully) large numbers of people to contribute small amounts of money to fund journalistic endeavors. Spot.us, for example, posts lists of potential stories, lets freelancers sign up (or contribute their own ideas), and then lets people donate money toward funding of the story. Once the story tops up with cash, it gets reported and written.

So, yeah, worked great for Obama, right? Crowdfunded his way right to the White House. Except it seems to me that journalism maybe has tried more or less this before. I think maybe it was called subscriptions, back in the day when people got newspapers thrown at their windows by bleary-eyed sixth-graders. Or, if you prefer the broadcast metaphor, maybe we can think about pledge drives.

In fact this model does work reasonably well if the crowd is forced to fund, as is the case with BBC or German TV here. Of course that’s not a market-friendly strategy, but that whole market-knows-best thing is looking pretty threadbare these days anyway.

Not that I’m arguing that all journalism should be supported by a mandated fee of some kind. But it sure seems that if old journalistic values are going to be maintained at any level, it might be a good way of doing things.

Silver lining on CA’s disgraceful same-sex marriage vote

Maybe the single serious bleak spot on Tuesday’s brilliant electoral map was the success of Prop. 8 in California, amending the state’s constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. Funded by millions of dollars from the conservative Christians who nearly took over state politics in the early 1990s, by deep Mormon pockets, and with a fear-driven campaign that made McCain/Palin look like smiling purveyors of happy pills, the initiative drew a surprising 52 percent support despite the huge Obama turnout.


What this means is that thousands of couples who have married in the last few months now face the prospect of the state revoking that status. Hundreds of thousands more lose the right. A jarring reality, given the sense of new dawn elsewhere in the country.

But a friend and fellow writer, Paul Festa (whose marriage is one of those now truly at risk) writes persuasively in The Daily Beast that opponents of Prop. 8 see some silver lining in the numbers — 52 percent support for this proposition, compared to 61 percent support for a same-sex marriage ban in 2000.

If you really want to know who will decide this issue if it comes up in 2012, ask 14-to-17 year olds, who will be voting in their first presidential election. Those straight supremacists playing with Mormon campaign contributions? Culture war dead-enders. Last night the gay movement lost a battle. The war, launched in the early 1950s by activists Harry Hay, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, we’re winning decisively.

Worth a read.

A beautiful moment

People can debate the semantics of landslides all they want. This is undeniably one of the great moments in American political history, and Obama one of its great figures.

It is encouraging, even inspiring, that an American political system showing such tattered edges over recent cycles can lead to this. A majority of the country has repudiated Bush and the party that spawned him. The tragedy is that we’ll be living under Bush’s shadow for years to come.

Already the conservatives are debating strategies for opposition. That’s natural. I would love to see the spirit of McCain’s gracious concession speech inspire Washington for at least a few months, but more likely is that aside from McCain himself, the minority party will leave the hard choices entirely to the new majority, and let the Democrats take the blame for the sacrifices that will be need to be made.

But that’s later. Today’s for dancing.

The 72 Transformations of Obama Sun Wukong

The real reason Obama is winning (from Politico):

The Illinois senator admitted in June to carrying a pocket full of charms. He dug his hand into his pants pocket in the middle of an event and revealed what look like a junk drawer of goodies: a “lucky poker chip” given to him by a voter, an American eagle pin from a Native American woman and a small golden statue of the Monkey King.

Just as a reminder, Sun Wukong was commanded by the bodhisattva Guanyin to help a monk bring back Buddhist sutras to China, from the far West. I think this may mean Obama will help bring enlightenment and salvation to the East (coast), and that he will be spared from destruction, the seductions of ego, and flesh-eating demons only by the interventions of a team of transformed trickster-gods. Take that, Republicans!

Obviously he has my vote.