Ricochet, a Montreal-based micro-payment news project, seeks $75,000 in crowdfunding campaign

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Financial Post | Christine Dobby | May 21, 2014

Ricochet crowdsourced journalism

A new Canadian media project with a business model based on readers contributing “micro-payments” for coverage they care about is launching a crowdfunding campaign Wednesday.

The project, called Ricochet and based in Montreal, is hoping to raise $75,000 through a month-long campaign on Indiegogo to fund its website design and begin paying contributing reporters for the news and politics site.

Ethan Cox, who formerly worked with Rabble.ca before parting ways with the left-wing website last year, said the hope is to create an independent and self-sustaining approach to journalism.

“If we’re successful in this we’ll be proving a model for media that can be copied and exported around the world,” he said in an interview.

Readers would be able to sign up for automatic small payments – perhaps 50 cents or a dollar – to be charged to their credit card when articles by a favourite reporter or opinion writer, or stories on a particular subject of interest, are published.

The site will also include an element of crowd-sourcing for ideas, with readers voting on topics they’d like to hear more about, a concept employed by another Canadian news venture, OpenFile, that ran into financing troubles and is now on an indefinite hiatus.

Other projects internationally have tried similar models. Last year Dutch news website De Correspondent launched after raising $1.7-million through a crowdfunding campaign and says it plans to rely on subscription fees and donations – rather than advertising – as its main source of income.

Mr. Cox said the site plans to pay its contributors competitive rates for their work though he noted that the amounts likely won’t be in line with what traditional national print media organizations have paid in the past. He said it is too early for specifics but that initial plans are to pay up to $1,000 for long-term investigations and more than $100 for more straightforward articles.

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The focus will be on in-depth reporting but Mr. Cox said he hopes to have at least two new pieces published daily. The site’s launch date is not yet set.

A team of editors, including himself and former Rabble editor Derrirk O’Keefe, will not be paid for their work running the site but will contribute paid journalism.

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