A number of sites also have experimented with such financing for journalists in the past few years, especially in the US, City University London journalism professor George Brock said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the central plank or pillar of a new business model for journalism, but the experiments that have been done in it have shown that projects that catch people’s imagination, whether they be Web or print or film, really can raise money,” Brock said.
Yin set his limit at 5,000 yuan, which is also slated to cover his expenses, in hopes of discouraging the notion that a big spender could control his agenda.
He uploaded details on the 1,955 yuan he spent covering his first report, including photographs of bus and train tickets and other receipts.
He is saving money by staying in a friend’s apartment, which he says might also make it more difficult for officials to track him down.
He risks becoming a target in the government’s intensified crackdown on online expression. In recent months, China’s leaders have clamped down on what they call online rumors and efforts to erode the rule of the Chinese Communist Party through lies and negative news.
Their targets have included celebrity bloggers that call attention to social injustices.
Even if the government does not detain Yin, it could scrub his reports from the Internet.
“The key point here is the distribution question” and whether Yin’s reports will be censored, Hong Kong University’s China Media Project researcher David Bandurski said.
“All Internet in China is in a recent period of extreme intensification of control and he’s dealing — presumably if he’s doing investigations — with sensitive issues,” he added.