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Internet raises over $50,000 to put towards alleged Ford crack video

UPDATE 3: Gawker’s campaign has now passed the $50,000 mark, sitting at $51,810, over one quarter of the $200,000 mark they have set. (1:00 p.m. May 18)

UPDATE 2: Gawker’s “Crackstarter” has raised $24,724 and is rapidly increasing. (4:27 p.m. May 17)

UPDATE: With the addition of Gawker’s own “Crackstarter” the running tally sits around $6,000. (1:55 p.m. May 17)

When last night’s news of Rob Ford’s alleged crack smoking video hit the airwaves there was much buzz on Twitter and Facebook about crowdfunding the money required to purchase the video and as of 1 p.m. it has resulted in $3,278 dollars being raised.

The unnamed Somali-Canadian sources that have been in contact with Gawker and the Toronto Star attempting to sell the video, a group which includes the Etobicoke drug dealers who supposedly sold Ford the crack, are asking for “six figures” for the video.

In the morning of Friday, May 17, several projects cropped up on international crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com, three of which have secured funding of hundreds of dollars each.

One of the projects is run by Canadian news source The Province.

UPDATE: One of the projects run by Canadian news outlet The Province, which had reached $915, was removed from Indiegogo at 1:20 p.m.

In the Gawker article that broke the story the author was quite clear that he was looking to purchase the tape, having contacted CNN attempting to set up a partnership. According to the author there was a Canadian news source that had previously offered the men $40,000 for the tape. The Star’s reporters viewed the tape on May 3, 2013 and stated that they did not purchase the video, however, it is unclear as to whether or not they were the unsuccessful bid.

There are a myriad of journalistic ethical questions around the idea of paying for information from sources, especially when the sources are asking for such a high price.

  • Can we trust our news correspondents enough that their testimony in regards to the video is enough? If there is no other way to attain the video without paying upwards of $100,000 is it the responsibility of news sources to shell out the money so that the people of Toronto and Canada may see it?
  • Could paying this source set a precedent for future sources to begin charging for important information on stories, big and small?
  • Could paying for the tape contribute to illegal activity? The men, self professed drug dealers who told the Star they are seeking the money to set up new lives for themselves out west, could easily be offering the same price to Rob Ford’s camp in an attempt to blackmail the embattled mayor.

It remains to be seen whether or not the crowdfunded money can reach the goal and then at that point partner with one of the media outlets currently in contact with the video’s owners along with whatever lasting impact on the Canadian media landscape will come from this incident.

Follow Travis Myers on Twitter: @travmyers