Dear Gawker, We'll Fund Your Crack Video if You Do Some Real Journalism

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Ben Cohen
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Gawker wants you to pay for a video of Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, smoking crack cocaine. Writes John Cook:

As you may have heard, Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, smokes crack cocaine. We've seen a video of him smoking crack cocaine, and the people who have the video would like to sell it. Through the miracle of crowdfunding, you can help. Please consider donating to the Rob Ford Crackstarter.

How Much Do We Need? $200,000. That's what the owners of the video want. That sounds like a lot of money. The good people at Indiegogo believe that, with the appropriate amount of virality, that goal is achievable.

The crowdfunding site Indigogo has the power to help many a worthwhile project, and it's highly debatable whether this is one of them. Gawker, which is worth in excess of $300 million, is basically asking the public to pay for something it will profit from. They're obviously calculating that the virality of the video won't make them $200,000 in ad revenue, so they're asking their readers to foot the bill. I'm all up for reader funded journalism, but it has to be actual journalism not just slapping a video up of something controversial. If Gawker wanted $200,000 to do a series of in depth pieces on crack use in Toronto, then sure. But this is just a cheap move to get people to pay for stuff they should be buying themselves.

How about this? Let the project stand, but Gawker must use all ad proceeds from the video to doing some serious journalism on the subject (that it can also profit from).

I think Gawker is an excellent site, and while I'm giving it a hard time for this particular story, it does do some very good original reporting (Hamilton Nolan in particular has done some great work on poverty and wealth inequality).

So take up the challenge and put that money to good use. I'll donate myself, and gladly watch the video of Rob Ford getting high as a kite.