The Missourian and Vox this week launched Kachingle.
It’s an experiment in what the founder Cynthia Typaldos calls “crowdfunding.”
That is, Kachingle is a way to contribute something out of your pocket — voluntarily — for the news coverage you like. You might think of it as the tip jar at your local coffee shop.
You would throw a couple of quarters in the Missourian jar, wouldn’t you? A dozen dimes to Vox wouldn’t hurt, would it?
Kachingle is a way to tell the world that you support the journalism done on our local sites, or on any other site around the world that is a Kachingle member, in an easy way.
Typaldos pitched the idea more than two years ago at a Reynolds Journalism Institute conference here. Her startup celebrates its first birthday this month.
Here’s how it works:
- I sign up to allow Kachingle to take $5 a month. There’s no option for contributing more. The point is to get lots of people “Kachingling,” Typaldos says, not finding big dollar donors.
- My $5 pie then gets cut in any way I want and depends on how much I actually use a particular site. Joining a site is literally a one-click process — click on the little medallion and it turns from purple to green.
I’m now contributing to four sites: columbiamissourian.com and voxmagazine.com, of course, plus the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, Colo., and the Center for Investigative Reporting. Each site's slice of my pie depends on the number of days I visit.
Kachingle gets its slice – 7 percent – and PayPal gets another 8 percent. The other 85 percent is up to me.
Typaldos wants to create a new social norm for news reading.
Almost everyone tips at a restaurant, and in this country there’s a 15 percent to 20 percent range that is generally accepted (assuming good service and good food, of course).
No one forces us to tip. We do it anyway.
Typaldos believes that kind of in-person behavior can translate to the Web.
“People want to support the stuff they love,” she says.
Not surprisingly, she doesn’t see much of a future for metered systems at news sites. Newspapers such as The New York Times and our own Columbia Daily Tribune are moving to a more print-like model of daily, weekly or monthly subscriptions.
But I don’t see a subscriptions vs. crowdfunding competition here. They are just two of many attempts in finding ways to support journalism.
And, at least so far, the Kachingle member sites aren’t exactly rolling in dough. Think tens of dollars in contributions, not hundreds or thousands.
I have small goals for Kachingle.
If your contributions help pay for more public records requests or fund a new camera for the newsroom, that’s success.
If they help send a staff photographer to one more MU basketball away game, we all win.
(Some of our MU students already have benefited. A team from a joint business-and-journalism class is taking on Kachingle marketing as a project.)
I can hear those coins dropping in the tip jar now.