There’s been some back and forth about the death of journalism in the Internet age. Much of the roots of the discussion – how can journalism be both profitable and trustworthy when it needs to rely on advertising dollars – is much, much older than the Internet. But, the Internet has made it much harder for traditional journalism to survive and bring in dollars. It’s hard to compete with free services, unless you get even farther under the yoke of advertising, and that’s a difficult line to straddle.
So, from that, we have Project Wordsworth. Roughly speaking, it’s asking what words are worth. The site features 17 feature-length pieces of investigative, long-form journalism, and then asks for readers to donate how much they think each story is worth to them. That’s assuming that the stories are good and of interest, something that each reader will decide for his or herself. There’s a good chance you’ll at least find one story of interest – the stories cover a broad range of topics like MMA, the Darfur crisis, cancer treatments, and the Holocaust.
The authors are all Columbia graduate students in the journalism department. Now that their stories are done, they’re trying to get of sense of what those stories are worth to the public. The site launched on May 9, and has since then received $2,231 from 94,642 individual visitors at the time of this writing. The money goes directly to the authors, and, after a month or so, what they take in should be telling about the state of long-form journalism today.