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Community Funded Reporting


YouCommNews is a non-profit, people-powered news site run as part of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation (PIJ Foundation) based at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.

YouCommNews uses the internet to crowd-source both ideas and resources for high quality, community driven journalism.

We help members of the public to commission the stories they want investigated. Story ideas are "pitched" here on the site and anyone can then pledge funds to support the projects.

The resulting stories will then be available for publication in mainstream, independent and online media, either freely or through the sale of publication rights, in which case there will be refunds to those who funded the journalism.

For regular updates and to connect with the YouCommNews community, see our and page and follow us at .


For all enquiries, please contact us via email at for more information on YouCommNews and the Public Interest Journalism Foundation contact Tara Peck, Project officer by phone on .

Before you send us an email - check our FAQ's below. Perhaps your question has already been answered.

Who is behind YouCommNews

The PIJ Foundation was founded in 2009, following discussions between Health Journalist Melissa Sweet and Swinburne’s convenor of journalism, Dr Margaret Simons.

The Foundation and its first project, YouCommNews, are part of the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology. YouCommNews has been established with the help of grants from the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, funding from the ARC funded Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, and philanthropic support from foundation sponsor, the Financial and Energy Exchange Group. Other donors include Mr John Langmore.

For Members of the Public

For Journalists

For Publishers and Broadcasters

General FAQ

How Do I Suggest a Story?

Anyone can suggest a story on a topic they feel is of public importance and should be investigated. To suggest a story idea, simply register with YouCommNews via this website as a Member of the Public and click Suggest a Story.

Your suggestion will be sent to our team who will contact you about turning it into a story pitch. If a suitable Journalist can’t be found to take on your suggested story prior to pitching on the site then YouCommNews will commission a Journalist to complete the investigation once it is fully funded.

Suggesting a Story

How Do I Donate Towards a Story Pitch?

Anyone registered with YouCommNews can fund a story pitch. Donations can be made on the site through PayPal or credit card.

All donors should understand that they are funding the doing of the journalism. They are not buying the right to a particular outcome. The journalism will be done with independence and integrity.

If a media organisation successfully negotiates to buy the rights to journalism that has been funded by the public, members of the public may receive a full or partial refund, or the option of transferring money to another pitch or donating to the Foundation. (Donations to the Foundation are tax deductible. However, funding of pitches does not attract tax deductibility).

Donations to stories can be made by clicking the Fund this Story button below story pitches.

What Happens to the Finished Content?

Unless other arrangements have been negotiated with a media organisation, journalism done by YouCommNews commissioned journalists will normally be published on the YouCommNews site, and will be available for publication by anyone who wishes to use it.

YouCommNews endeavors to get stories published in as many places as possible.

We also have a list of registered media organisations which can negotiate to buy first publication rights providing they donate 50% or more towards a pitch. If a media organisation successfully negotiates to buy the rights to a pitch that has been funded by the public, extra proceeds go back to members of the public who supported that pitch in the form of site credits, which can then be used to support another pitch.

What if a Pitch I Support Doesn’t Reach Its Goal?

If a pitch fails to get the required amount of funding for the journalism to proceed, donors to that pitch will be refunded in the form of ‘site credits’ which can be used to fund any existing pitch on YouCommNews, and are valid until the end of that financial year.

Who Are the Youcommnews Journalists?

Reporters on YouCommNews are freelance journalists who have registered with YouCommNews. They have agreed to abide by the values of the Foundation, the Media Alliance Journalists’ code of ethics and the principles of the Australian Press Council. The journalism commissioned through YouCommNews will be supervised by the public interest journalism committee of the Foundation. The public interest journalism committee may also appoint an editor to a project. We encourage every member of the public to view the reporters’ details and pitch before making a donation.

Your Privacy

YouCommNews will ensure that your personal Information is never distributed to a third party without your permission, for more information please read our privacy policy.

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For Journalists


Required Reading »

Journalists working for YouCommNews will be paid at a rate negotiated in advance when the project is pitched, with the starting point for negotiations being the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance freelance rate card (PDF).

How Do I Create a Pitch?

Pitches need to be written in a clear and accessible fashion, making it clear why you think the issue should be investigated. Don’t be afraid to let the public know why you think the topic is important. Each pitch should include a profile of yourself, giving details of your background and qualifications. Depending on the nature of your project, you might like to consider novel ways of keeping the audience informed of your work, such as regular blog posts on your progress, or email bulletins to those funding your work.

What’s the Role of the Public Interest Journalism Committee?

The Public Interest Journalism Committee will report to the Board of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation. Its responsibilities are:

What Happens To The Finished Content?

Finished content is either published on the YouCommNews site, or by a registered media organisation which has negotiated to buy first publication rights. Journalists are always notified if a media organisation opts for first publishing rights, and it is ensured that all work is attributed to the Journalist. If there are no partnering organisations, completed work will be made available to be republished through a Creative Commons license. Stories may not be altered without the author’s permission.

What If My Pitch Doesn’t Reach its Goal?

Even if a Pitch isn’t fully funded, you may still choose to proceed with a story. For example, if you raise 80% of funds needed, you can still accept that money as long as you do what was originally outlined. You can also choose to cancel the pitch at any time, in which case donations will be refunded to those who supported the pitch in the form of credits to be directed towards another pitch.

Creative Commons Information

YouCommNews aims to get your work published in as many places as possible. All Stories produced on YouCommNews will be made available through a Creative Commons license unless a media organisation has contributed either 50% or more of the total cost. If a Media organisation has contributed 50% or more towards a story they will then be given the option of receiving first publishing rights.

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For Publishers and Broadcasters

Why Do We Need Board Approval?

Publishers and Broadcasters are the only registrants who are allowed to donate more than 20% towards a pitch, and because of this YouCommNews must make sure that all of our registered Publishers and Broadcasters abide by the values of the Foundation, the Journalists’ code of ethics and the principles of the Australian Press Council. This is to protect the independence of the journalism.

The Board of the Foundation reserves the right to reject applicants for registration as a Publisher or Broadcaster.

How Can YouCommNews Help My Organisation?

YouCommNews is an opportunity to increase your freelance budget by working with and for the public. Many Publishers and Broadcasters have a gap between what they can fund themselves in the way of investigative journalism, and what they wish to do. We only work with freelancers and cannot support staff writers. By working with YouCommNews, part of the cost of investigative work can be shared with the public that is most intensely interested in the subject matter. You can donate 50% towards a story pitch upfront and the YouCommNews community can fund the other 50%. In this scenario, your organisation will still get first publishing rights. You can also register on YouCommNews and find out about professionally written, 100% community funded articles which are freely available through a Creative Commons license.

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General FAQ

The Public Interest Journalism Foundation Mission Statement

The Foundation promotes and enables innovation in public interest journalism. It develops and tests emerging models of journalism to inform an engaged and accountable society. Our guiding principle is public interest through knowledge development, collaboration and sustainability. We act with integrity, honesty, transparency and independence.