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Irene Toporkoff*

PARIS - News media startups like ours cannot sit still.

Not only are we busy each day hunting down great stories, but we must always be on the lookout for new ideas.

And so my eyes lit up when my Worldcrunch co-founder Jeff Israely first started talking about applying our own unique formula to a new approach to news called Solutions Journalism. We’d tap into our partnerships with the world’s top newspapers to find reporting on real solutions to some of the urgent problems around us.

“People are tired of reading about everything that's bad and broken,” Jeff told me. “We could pick a different topic every month…” Sounded like a great idea indeed.

But the other maxim in the news industry today – for both small and big players -- is that great ideas alone are often not enough. We must be conscious of where the journalistic imperative intersects with a very practical business rationale. And quite honestly, I didn’t see an immediate way to fit this project in with our short and medium-term strategy to build Worldcrunch, the company. It was additional cost for the kinds of stories that tend not to produce additional revenue.

But then I had an idea of my own!

Why not try to build a Kickstarter campaign to get the project off the ground. It could both help cover the costs of the launch phase, while building momentum directly with our current readers, and help find new ones around this specific idea of solutions journalism.

They call it “crowdfunding,” which is yet another Internet innovation that is more human than technological: the idea that people can rally behind an concept or project, help to fund it, spread the word…and in the best circumstances, actually help shape what it becomes. As our social media maven said: “It’s self-fulfilling prophecy, in the good sense!”

We’re calling ours Worldcrunch Impact, a way to support a new kind of journalism that perhaps doesn’t drive billions of pageviews (or millions of dollars), but could help spread ideas that work…and last. Our own idea is to look all around the world for the best of these stories regardless of language or geography, and produce them in English.

In the process, Worldcrunch can dive a bit deeper into the search for the way journalism itself might evolve…

*Irene Toporkoff is the co-founder of Worldcrunch

Click here to learn more:

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

A paper dove reads "Mariupol" at a shelter for displaced children in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine.

Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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