David Cohn's Spot.us, which raises money from website readers to finance longer-form journalism, is opening in Los Angeles in association with USC Annenberg. He's looking for a managing editor. The Nieman Journalism Lab website portrays it as a bit of a shift for Spot.us, which is based in the Bay Area.
The expansion ushers in a refocusing for Spot.Us, as the nonprofit puts its development energy into serving as a platform rather than eyeing growth as a full-fledged news organization. Cohn told me last night his intent is to resist the allure of becoming a news source — an impulse Spot.Us has struggled with — and instead use the organization’s infrastructure to serve and connect three interwoven groups: local community members, reporters/journalists, and news publishers. It’s a platform play, which has the benefit of being cheaper and faster than setting up Spot.Us editorial bureaus across the country....
Interestingly, the L.A. expansion may not serve as much of a guide for Spot.Us’ future moves. Cohn recognizes that strong local partners and grant money are hard to come by, and while he’ll pursue those opportunities, he’s also embracing an expansion mindset reminiscent of Craigslist. With the technology in place thanks to the L.A. effort, Spot.Us can use its platform to dip a toe in new markets and allocate resources as interest warrants. Cohn is eyeing Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Miami and certain parts of Texas in the short term.
Cohn approached LA Observed about collaborating on a local reporting project, but we have nothing going together currently.