Journalists worldwide are facing pressure in fees and jobs as traditional newspapers struggle under the onslaught of blogging, whistleblowing, digital media, and other threats to their business models. One solution to preserve the journalists’ independence, value, and bargaining power is DECA, “a new writers’ collective for longform journalism,” just launched, according to GigaOM, on the model of the historic Magnum photojournalists’ collective. The platform has already passed its $15,000 goal on Kickstarter, and is on course for its stretch goals before fundraising closes.
According to DECA’s materials, “this group of established non-fiction authors collaborates to fund, edit and market deeply-reported, 10,000 to 20,000-word non-fiction. The stories are sold in digital format directly for e-readers, tablets and smartphones.” Its Kickstarter blurb states that: “Deca finds its inspiration in the global photo agencies that formed starting in the ’40s and ’50s. Back then, photographers founded cooperatives in places like Paris and New York, helping each other create, market, and distribute work … Today, digital technology—particularly mobile technology—makes this kind of collaboration possible for writers, too. We believe that what worked then will also work now.” DECA does not yet appear to have a standalone website, but there is a49-minute video presentation on its model online here, courtesy of the April International Journalism Festival in Perugia.
Could this model work for writers too? Apparently part of the inspiration for DECA came from the success that veteran journalist and co-founder Marc Herman had with launching his long-form piece of war reporting from Libya, The Shores of Tripoli, as a Kindle Single. And the DECA model depends on the members getting a cut of the collective’s overall sales every year, as well as covering some of their expenses if funds allow. It’s not hard to imagine a similar model where writers club together to market their work under a common banner, sharing some of the revenue and the marketing expenses. After all, self-publishing is less and less a cost-free enterprise, and some sharing of the load could pay off.