San Diego Union-Tribune partners with GoFundMe to raise money for the people the newspaper writes about

Adi Robertson, writing at The Verge:

Earlier this month, The San Diego Union-Tribune launched an unusual experiment: asking readers to become small-scale philanthropists. Partnering with crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, the paper began adding a small widget to its online articles, providing a link to start a fundraising campaign. “Want to make a difference?” the note asks. “A great way to help people affected by Union-Tribune stories is to start a GoFundMe.” It’s the latest sign of crowdfunding’s massive cultural influence — but does it belong in the fourth estate? …

Light says the Union-Tribune’s GoFundMe integration isn’t complete, so they’re not totally sure how many campaigns have been made through the widget. The Union-Tribune has a page featuring GoFundMe campaigns related to its stories, but most of them predate the announcement. The most successful project so far has raised $30,000 (of a $50,000 goal) for Iesha Booker, a bus driver who stepped in to help an injured police officer. Others are considerably smaller: an LGBTQ student filmmaker contest has gotten $300, and donors have given around $1,800 to the family of recently deceased motorcyclist Leslie Elliot. “It looks like a very quiet start to the whole initiative — way less activity that I would expect to see,” [Publisher and editor Jeff] Light admits. “But I’m confident we will see stronger take-up going forward.”

The article outlines some downsides to what the U-T is doing, including potentially scamming readers. But on the whole it seems positive. Besides, the U-T should be fact-checking its articles before it publishes them, which should also cull out scams.

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