Could Crowdfunding Save Photojournalism?

A startup turns to Kickstarter to fund stories from five heavy-hitting photojournalists

From the series "Sin and Salvation in Baptist Town"© Matt Eich
Teenage boy holds father's ashes in a box, Carbondale, Ohio.
Tylor Woodrum, 16, holds a box containing his father's ashes on January 30, 2007 in Carbondale, Ohio. Dave Woodrum was killed in August of 2006 in a high-impact 4-wheeler accident. Dave's family had his body cremated and his favorite cock-fighting rooster mounted on top of the box.© Matt Eich
Dexter McCroy (back turned) lights a hookah for young ladies at a party at Main Attractions in Greenwood, Mississippi on November 22, 2014.© Matt Eich
According to residents of “Chaun-city,” in Brooklyn, also known as 88-132 Chauncey Street, some people have been given 90 days before they will be asked to vacate their homes. Some of the residents have been living at the complex for over 40 years. These photos were part of the 24-hour street photography project to document world’s humanity in one single day.© Ruddy Roye
Staten Island Ferry© Beth Nakamura
The Intensive Management Unit, also known as solitary confinement, at Snake River Correctional Institution, where inmates are locked up for over 23 hours per day.© Beth Nakamura
Portland, OR, 08/25/10—Loren "Dracey" Ware displays his G-clef on the back of his head, a sign of his devotion to music, which will be his major this fall at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. With the substantial assistance of the Roosevelt High School community, Ware, 18, will be attending St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. Ware will be flying to New York—his very first plane ride—later this month to begin the transition.© Beth Nakamura
A dancer waits for a cue backstage during Oregon Ballet Theatre's final dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker.© Beth Nakamura

It has never been harder to be a photojournalist. When news organizations downsize, staff photographers are often the first department to go, the budgets for original photography at major publications are shrinking and it’s no longer unusual for documentary photographers to supplement their income by picking up commercial jobs.

A startup called Viewfind is trying to change all that. A newly launched Kickstarter from the company is trying to raise $25,000 to produce five long-term documentary projects from Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, Ruddy Roye, Beth Nakamura, Benjamin Lowy and Matt Eich.

“The traditional news media business model is in complete shambles,” Zheng Yu Huang, Viewfind’s CEO, says in the company’s Kickstarter video. But Viewfind isn’t just interested in crowd funding these projects; rather they are casting away the established top-down structure of a newsroom and asking their audience for pitches to help figure out the stories that matter most.

Although this campaign doesn’t come with the bevy of rewards that backers may be accustom to receiving when they pitch in, for as little as a $5 pledge you can throw your story idea into the ring.

The campaign has 24 days to go. Watch their full Kickstarter video below.

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