As news organisations make cutbacks, photojournalists, many of whom are freelancers, have been struggling to find enough commissions. Co-founded by Tina Ahrens, a photo editor and consultant, Karim Ben Khelifa, a photojournalist and Fanuel Dewever, a business consultant, http://www.emphas.is/ is seeking a new funding model for photojournalism, an often costly and time-consuming trade.
Ben Khelifa explained to the Editors Weblog that his inspiration for the initiative came when he was pitching an ambitious project that he wanted to carry out, but despite the fact that everybody he spoke to showed great interest in the project, he couldn't find funding. He had the realization that there was a serious demand for photojournalism, and that if media organisations weren't prepared to fund it, maybe the public would be. The public, rather than editors, would take on the role of information gatekeepers.
Crowd-funding for news has already been experimented with, the best-known example being Spot.Us, a start up based in California's Bay Area, founded by David Cohn with help from the Knight Foundation. Ben Khelifa only discovered Spot.Us after he started researching for his project, however.
Photojournalists will make their pitches to Emphas.is, often in the form of a video, and a reviewing committee will decide whether or not to accept these, based on their viability. A cost will be set - Khelifa said he anticipates $5000 as an average- and the pitches will be put on the Emphas.is site. The public can then view these, and if they choose to contribute a minimum of $10, they will be invited into a private community where they can communicate with the journalist.