Investigative Journalism & Scientific Research Funding Mechanisms

Mechanisms for high cost, high value information

The amount of funding required for investigative journalism and scientific research dwarfs that required for news reporting and opinion. Further, the value they offer to society through exposing things like corruption and unearthing information that can greatly improve people's lives can be enormous. Private business models are terrible at enabling investigators and researchers to capture these rewards if their discoveries aren't patentable however. The intermediation of funding by insitutions also produces poor incentives such as disincentives to provide funding to investigate government corruption or the incentive to only research fashionable topics or to falsify findings in order to be published and receive further funding.

Olas aims to remedy these problems by offering investigators and researchers mechanisms via which they can directly seek investment from people who can share the rewards from a large payout from an Investigative Journalism Pool and a Scientific Research Pool. These incentives can grant investigators and researchers with the resources they need whilst still ensuring payouts will only occur for legitimate discoveries. Larger donations are achieved by offering more concentrated payouts Native tipping will ensure those that make very important public good discoveries can capture much more of the value of those discoveries.

The following sequence diagram demonstrates how the Olas funding mechanism for news and opinion works:

Investment Platform

Given up front costs are on a completely different level for this sector compared to news and opinion, contributors will be able to raise money in advance for the research they wish to conduct and can receive this money in advance with investors bearing the risk of non-performance.

Investigative Journalism Pool

Every quarter a certain percentage of the donations of avid readers, high net worth individuals, corporations and governments will be allocated to the Investigative Journalism Pool from the Olas Global Pool by the Olas Foundation.

Quarterly Funding Competitions

After the money from the Global Pool is allocated, those papers that have been reviewed by a judging panel will be allocated a share relative to their score and the cost of their research.

How it Works

An investigative journalist or group of scientists with a lead or an idea can seek investment based on a cost estimate for their research via the protocol. These investors will have a share in any profits the journalist or scientist will receive for their work if there are any. The contributor will then conduct their research and publish their work. After publication, a randomised and qualified judging panel will make an assessment on the question, the methodology, quality of statistical analysis, the answer provided etc as well as taking a view on the plausibility of the stated costs. An overall score, including the panel's figure for costs, will be given. This score and the scores of all the other entrants to the quarterly funding competition will dictate the entrants share of the available money. This will enable contributors to at least partially repay some of the funding they received. There are other opportunities for investors to see a return on their investment subsequent to this.

Benefits of the Investigative Journalism and Science Funding Mechanism

The Olas funding mechanism offers several benefits, including:

  • It allows funds be allocated in a decentralised non-hierarchical fashion, somewhat removing politics from the equation

  • It enables people to fund interesting research questions and have the possibility of returing a profit on their investment if people find the outcome of the research valuable

  • It enables contributors to grant open access to their work without needing to worry about being rewarded for it

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