– En reportagesajt om världens vita fläckar
The crisis in journalism must be met with something new. We are a group of reporters who have decided to take matters into our own hands. Together we want to write the stories that don't get covered.
Blank Spot Project is a digital platform for storytelling journalism, reporting from around the world. We want to show more of the world and write the stories that do not get written. When the journalist Martin Schibbye was released from an Ethiopian prison after 438 days in captivity, a fellow prisoner whispered "Tell the world what you have seen." We are now a number of editors, photo editors, photographers, investigative journalists, digital developers and reporters, including Martin Schibbye, who together have decided to do just that: Tell what the world outside Sweden looks like.
The crisis of journalism.
The world is on fire, super powers are arming, epidemics strike whole populations. In the field journalists are injured, kidnapped, and killed to an extent never seen before. The need for quality international journalism has never been greater. At the same time the current crisis in journalism must be met with something new.
We know that there is great interest in a journalism where the reporter and the photographer are on the spot, using their feet instead of Google and providing a voice to people who otherwise would not encounter journalists. It's the kind of journalism that is expensive and for that reason is one of the first places for newsrooms to cut back on. We see it happening in most major newsrooms today. But the price is high. What is happening in the world around us affects us all.
We would therefore like to invite you to join us in this effort to crowd finance an editorial staff that monitors our dynamic world; one that investigates, examines and publishes the unexpected voices from around the world.
The main focus of the Blank Spot Project are the world’s unreported spaces. We want to write about the places that are ignored, the blank spots. We want to write about lands and places beyond the media highroads, locations that attract the attention of far too few media. We want to give a voice to people who otherwise don’t encounter journalists, and to highlight forgotten perspectives, conflicts, and continents. The blank spots can also be events that are developing too slowly for mainstream media. The platform’s central sections are:
* Major investigative journalism project. We plan to start a Swedish and international investigative journalism project in cooperation with the organisation [Eye on Corruption] (http://www.eyeoncorruption.org). Our network includes several prize-winning researchers and journalists from a number of different countries who help us uncover information about Swedish and multinational corporations’ activities in developing countries and the former Soviet republics.
* Narrative reportage. We will be devoting much of our efforts to allowing journalists and photographers on location to have the time to craft and create narratives from all corners of the Earth. We believe in reportage in the long term, somewhere in the space between newspapers and books. Those who wish to order reportage as printed books shall be able to do so.
* Blank Spot’s newsfeed. A continual newsfeed of shorter texts, columns, and short items will keep you updated about coming reportage as well as reaction to what has been published. The traditional news work is done by others. We want to explain long term developments and not just report on the most speculative. As a reader of the newsfeed you will be updated on the projects underway and share your own knowledge with the reporters, and provide tips for coming reportage.
The digital platform will be the one that suits you best. We’ll be on screens, tablets, and smartphones, customised for the content and the stories we want to tell. Our premise is that the story is just half the job in our approach, the digital crafting is as important as the journalistic. We believe that our members and readers are the best ambassadors, and we will work with you before, during, and after a report. We have previously worked for newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, now we want to work for you!
Those of us who are starting the Blank Spot Project all have different backgrounds. Some of us are traditional and undercover investigative reporters, others like to get their boots dirty in the field. What unites us is a drive to talk about the world. We want to create a red-hot (alt: fiery) journalism directly for engaged readers who aren’t satisfied with click-link stories under headlines like “You’ll never believe what happened then.”
Our way of working will make it possible for you, our readers, to follow the progress of reportage from start to finish, we’ll take you behind the scenes in the world’s conflict zones and hotspots. But you’ll also be along when we bury ourselves in annual reports, studies, and policy documents. Often we’ll need your help, often you’ll know more than we do. The reportage will begin to set a fire inside you before we are on the scene, and you’ll be able to help us all the way to the end.
The huge changes in the media have brought with them new opportunities for the kind of journalism we want to pursue. In Sweden 92 percent have access to the Internet and two-thirds of those who do have access to smartphones. Just as many use social media every day. You already know this, and are probably reading this call for action on your smartphone or tablet. Our vision is that every report we publish will prompt long and engaged discussion among yourself, your friends, and your networks. We want to make use of your expertise or ideas on the reportage we should carry out. That response will be just as important to us as what we write.
We see everyone who is interested in the world around us as our target group. Not least that includes the diaspora groups in Sweden. We won’t break down target groups by age, gender, residence, or other stereotyped background variables.
We want to give every involved world citizen a chance to know more about the world outside Sweden!
The Business Model
We believe that many people feel concern about the future of journalism and are prepared to pay for quality journalism. We believe in a business model where we sell journalism to engaged readers instead of selling readers to advertisers. And we are deeply concerned that many media companies unabashedly work with corporations to produce “branded content”, as their way to solve the digital crisis in the media.
We think another kind of journalism is possible.
Our editorial independence is essential, and is the core of our business model, but we also believe in a flat organisation and an active readership as the key to producing world-class journalism today. We want to establish long term and trustworthy collaboration with you as an engaged reader. We see you as a co-creator rather than a subscriber. We will interact with you and seek your expertise on those subjects and countries we plan to write about.
The business model is based on your interest in the world around us and your faith in us.
This is what we will do with the money
We are all experienced editors and journalists. We can reveal things that are wrong, walk through deserts, and take pictures that you will never forget. We live for this profession and can devote the necessary time and energy. But we need your help to get the funding that will allow us to do the job. The investigative global journalism we and our friends want to do is expensive. It requires resources for pay for safety precautions, equipment, logistics – and it requires lots of time.
To be able to get off the ground, we are seeking one million Swedish kronor to build a ”printing press”, i.e. a digital platform that will show you what we can offer. We can then proceed to put together an editorial staff, start to dig, investigate, report and produce news.
You can make a contribution ranging from 1 EUR. 53 EUR gets you a membership for one year. For a contribution of 1 000 EUR you will receive a photograph donated from one of these photographers: Loulou D'aki, (Gaza), Sanna Sjöswärd (Iran), Niclas Hammarström (Liberia), Jacob Zocherman (Sudan), Jonas Gratzer (Bangladesh).
Blank Spot Project i media
- Sveriges Television: Schibbye vill lösa krisen i utrikesjournalistiken.
- Sveriges Radio: Ny sajt ska berätta om journalistikens vita fläckar.
- Helsingborgs Dagblad: Journalistik utan mellanhänder.
- Dagens Nyheter: Martin Schibbye startar sajt för utrikesjournalistik.
- Dagens Media: Crowdfunding ska lösa utrikesjournalistikens kris – här är Martin Schibbyes nya projekt.
- Dagens Opinion: Martin Schibbye och Brit Stakston startar medieföretag.
- Resumé: Blank Spot Project.