Our Story

Get This Right And We Might Change the World

Through the Cracks: Strata comes from Through the Cracks: Crowdfunding in Journalism, an editorial operation to study, analyze and share the collective story of crowdfunding by reporters and storytellers. That’s citizen journalists, freelancers and scrappy creators of news startups to major media outlets and accomplished filmmakers.

Founder Khari Johnson created the site to help, but also out of frustration. A freelancer, news startup founder and entrepreneur, he was frustrated that a freelance partner could back out of a deal and leave the funding for vital journalism on a ledge, or that news startups he helped build could die suddenly, leaving sources who was led to believe their story would be told and reporters trying to survive in a lurch.

Crowdfunding seemed like a potential funding model that could allow a community to keep a reporter on the beat, to fulfill an investigative reporting project, or help reporters and communities working together to rise to the occasion and create a startup that sustains coverage that 1) acts as glue for communities 2) thwarts corruption in local government and 3) keeps people who care about their communities and neighbors informed.

Since Through the Cracks got underway in 2014, we’ve pulled together the best practices, unique techniques and strategic approaches carried out by storytellers on five continents and dozens of crowdfunding platforms, to provide a source of knowledge available no place else. So far as we can tell, nobody pulls this information to distill best practices quite like we do.

Our work has also been featured by Columbia Journalism Review, American Journalism Review, PBS MediaShift, Global Investigative Journalism Network and Nonprofit Quarterly.

Strata is a progression of thinking behind the creation of Through the Cracks, an evolution. The thinking behind that evolution is spread between a series of stories.

Here’s a few stories that bring that thinking together.

What got us all excited about the future of journalism

In both text and my emotion, I use excitement sparingly. No unnecessary exclamation points in my life. Better to save it for times when I really mean it, but I got in the habit of using the word exciting in my work in crowdfunded journalism. Here’s why.

Revolutionizing media and the world

The ability to invest in startups with equity crowdfunding is on the rise and the ways people use this new tool continues to be used in diverse ways. In this commentary for Positive News, I take a look back at what Through the Cracks has learned from following crowdfunding campaigns and what’s to come.

Startup seeds

Part of the reason I created Through the Cracks is because in working for news startups over the years, you can be employed one day and laid off the next. Any journalist working a beat is left with a handful of projects, investigations and promising stories that never see the light of day, that need time and money to be finished. That was my initial attraction to crowdfunding. Later I better understood that those ideas can be the  seeds for startups. I talked about it with Benet Wilson of All Digitocracy.

Innovation, not donations

In our earliest days, to remind our readers and anyone who would listen what we are and what we are not, I took a close look at the initial reasons why Through the Cracks was created. One misconception: That the site was invented to tell people which campaigns we believe are worthy of receiving money. Actually the site was made to share trends, innovation, experiments and the many ways reporters and storytellers use crowdfunding to enable journalism and bring underreported stories to light.

A go-to guide for crowdfunding journalism

Knight Digital Media Center (KDMC) profiled Through the Cracks and the thinking behind the site’s creation and called us a “go-to resource for crowdfunding in journalism.”


Our editorial arm in a nutshell

That’s what we said! A few impassioned words on the future of journalism