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Post morning break: Project options for Baruch

Next at Baruch today, the 17 or so folks gathered picked upon on Geanne Rosenberg's request to consider options for how Baruch College might work in a way that doesn't duplicate effort, truely serves and helps find sources of money.

One is a plug-and-play mode (Village Soup is a possible example).

Geanne Rosenberg: There are lots of publishing platforms out there, but if you want to make money, to produce a revenue stream, other than Village Soup, a lot of it seems to be proprietary. What is out there that is available or what can we build?

Joe Bergantino: Do models emerge from a room like this or from people just starting up and working on it? He thinks the volunteer-journalist idea reasonates to some degree. It works for volunteer fire departments (Densmore note: And for parent-teacher-organizations). What about an extension of Len's idea -- creating a model for a community where the people themselves can create the journalism and make money gradually. You make money after you have delivered a product, Bergantino notes.

Roz Bernstein of the Baruch faculty comments. She references the note on the screen: "Purchased wiht the Baruch student technology fee." She is thinking a lot about that community support model. "I think we are at a different point politically and economically." When she polled 100 students about her interests, for the first time in 35 years of teaching at Baruch, they wrote down politics. And also "service" was a word listed.

What about a community fee?

A model she suggests: "By working with a community ... and having some kind of 'media fee.' It could be bundled with wi-fi and simultaneously improving their technology." There would be a commitment that there would be that part of a community fee structure would go to this. "I think we are at a moment in America that there is a renewed sense of community service and this idea just might work."

She suggests to start with communities that have no papers.

There is discussion about whether government would collect the fee or some other entity would. Roz says she is just throwing the idea out -- she hasn't specified it.

Bergantino wonders if you can get people to pay before you have produced a product.

Josh Benton talks about the notion of university research that is produced which would not be supported by the public; it is instead supported by student tuition. So a public good is enabled in this way. He says he has talked with Brant Houston, former director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and Brant now works in the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA) at the Univ. of Illlinois Champaign-Urbana and has some ideas about repurposing data for sale that then supports journalism.

The Pulitzer Center in-school model

John Sawyer of the Pulitzer Center: They do a lot of aftermarketing to get the public to focused on a global debate on underreported issues. They take their journalists and projects, repackage them as web portals, working with the Watson Institute at Brown Unversity, which has relationship with thousands of high schools, to take these out. They are now trying to systematize this. They have started a "campus consortium" and have been pitching this to universities. They are building the network on the high school level. The jouranlist responds to questions online. They do a package with a university for $10,000, of which $3,000 goes to the journalists. They see this as a fraction of a big speaker's fee to talk to a university audience, and more more effective at promoting civic-sphere knowledge of international issues. "Nobody under 40 was looking at traditional journalism anyway," says Sawyer. This is an important effort "to engage this next generation."

Dave Mathieson: "That is exactly the model that is working music and video and film," say Dave Mathieson. When you start distributing through multiple channels, you also open up the ability to sell multiple products. this is Janet Sweitzer's concept behind the "Chicken Soup . . . " series. YOu can actually make more money from fewer people, by finding just the right people. The model is less about getting millions of people to finding hundreds of people that love you more.

"I'd be happy to sell a weekly podcast summary of our report."

Customized reporting: Coming to

Josh Benton says one of the legs of the GlobalPost funding model: They are going to sell personalized information services to people with specific knowledge needs who will get access to the specialized reporting skills of their correspondents.

Geanne Rosenberg: She asks DAvid Mathieson how would you set up a successful hyperlocal site?

DAve Mathieson: Start out with a large group and then narrow the interests down to, sewage interests, or other civic issues and then try the model where those people can rally around journalism for a particular issue.

Dave Mathieson: Notes the Talking Points Memo model in which the audience helps gather the news.

Josh Benton: He asks is there some way to translate the sense of service that people feel in Teach for America and similar NGOs to journalism?

Len Witt: Why do people pay to go to a church? Len wants to understand that motivation and see if it can be turned to journalism as a sense of contributing to community. "What little piece of the church model might work for a journalism model?"

Steve Shepard: At CUNY, they are studing arts organizations to see how they way the are supported could be transferred to journalism.

Dave Mathieson: Membership sites work on the Internet. People who are doing this are making it work. He cites Robert Keosacki (spelling). He describes Keosacki's product segmentation of books and membership levels. "What can we provide to our community that will encourage them to pay $15 a month as a member and stay as a member and contribute?"

Geanne Rosenberg brings the discussion back to focusing on what Baruch can do. What if it were to facilitate in some way the growth of experiments in community jouranalism in the city's boroughs and ethnic media. John Sawyer suggest Pulitzer could help with that. Steve Shepard says grad students at CUNY already have a city-wide news service that they contribute to.

Joe Bergantino asks if there is a way to keep it from being perceived as only relevant to the largest city in the nation. Another person suggest you need to think of New York as a collection of neighborhoods.

Josh Benton: "What as a university can you provide that the free market cannot provide." The university can provide infrastructure and bodies (students).

Jan Schaffer makes two points: All of the models of journalism financing require an infracture -- someone to maintain the membership, the contact database, taking the subscriptions. There is merit in examining what the infrastructures would be in supporting the new models. There needs to be some serious discussion about networking journalism to provide some real value-added journalism -- civic-media networks. You could in NYC give a higher voice to the collective enterprise than any individual organization could. There is content being shared in Tulsa, Okla., Ohio, Florida. "We are seeing the rise of civic-media networks ... not only as AP dies but as regional newspapers die . . . we are going to lose the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the chicago Tribune long before we lose the New York Times."

Roz Bernstein asks: Could a portion of local cable fees be applied to this need?

Len Witt: In Northfield, he keeps finding citizens in Northfield who don't want to participate -- they just want the news, supplied by a professional journalist.

Howard Finberg: Harkens back to Jan Schaffer's idea about infrastructure. There is not going to be a single model. He contributes two thoughts: On infrastructure: Is there someone who could provide specialized skills across a number of sites -- such as a customer service manager who thinks about that not for a single site. Not a full time job for one site, but could be done for many. This could be a role for a university or consortium. The other point: The question of transparency. If there are a half a dozen models -- could we look at the books and the roles and responsibilities of the people staffing them -- you are more willing to take the plunge if you have knowledge about how others do it. That's a role the consortium can play.

Bill Densmore: Talks about the cookbook model. It's OK if Baruch is doing something that is uniquely useful for NYC. It would be seen in the context of a collaborative as just the **piece** that Baruch is uniquely capable of contributing, not the who enchilada.

Howard Finberg: Cookbook is a good analogy.

Geanne Rosenberg: YOu need a test kitchen.

Howard Finberg: Some models are already out there.

Josh Benton: It can be divorced from experiementation. It takes one person knowing everything about how folks are doing it.

Joe Bergantino: Isn't that something Poynter has indicated it would work on?

David Mathieson: Consider the affiliate advertising network model.

Josh: It can be a topical as well as a geographic community.

Geanne Rosenberg: One option for Baruch is the research warehouse center model, lookings at different models. She sees that Nieman Labs, RJI Collaboratory at Missouri, Poynter and Jan Schaffer's J-Lab may each have a piece of that.

Post-lunch ongoing discussion about project ideas for Baruch

Adam Glenn now talks about the RJI Collaboratory.

The idea is that with so many thousands of journalists out of work, there is simultaneously a gap in local news coverage and a resource in these out of work journalists. The idea, which is a simple one, close to what is being discussed today is not only to bring in these journalists, but also folks who can help launch entrepreneurial efforts in marketing finance, web design, information architecture, community managing, information designers -- like librarians. "All of these kind of people who together with journalists might be able to not only come up with an idea but execute." The idea of the collaboratory is talk to action, a knowledge pooling.

The question is how to do this and get people talking. It is literally about a week old. It is launched as a Ning network and the conversation can move to action.

There are several conversations going on and one of them is followup on a series of ideas that were thrown out at the meeting in Columbia last week.

Jan Schaffer talks about what the Knight Citizen News Information Network is doing. She talks about business models, interviewing techniques. "What we have really learned is that citizen journalists don't know how to paraphrase." So there's a tutorial on that. There is a video-blogging module coming online. They are also trying to collect a database of community news sites from around the country.

Mark Briggs is totally rebuilding J-Learning right now. There will be six or seven video case studies of citizen journalists talking about ethical dilemmas they have faced.

Schaffer says occasionally what she is doing duplicates Poynter, but all of her work is Creative Commons, so it is free and available to anyone.

Howard Finberg: Poynter has the webinar and workshop infrastructure in place. Which is a facility that Jan says she does not have as readily in place. He plans to borrow some of Jan's content. Where they can take the conversation and training to the next level they will.

Schaffer says she deliberately elects not to do the self-directed learning curriculum that Poynter does. But she tends to focus on "tell me what I need to know" on a very specific topic.

Joe Bergantino: Start thinking about a site which aggregates. Baruch needs to think about what is not offered by the three organizations: J-Lab, Poynter and Reynolds-Mizzou and others not in the room. The goal is to try to make the resources clearly available to everyone and not duplicated.

Howard Finberg: How do we aggregate audiences and send them to the sites that already exist.

Adam Glenn: One thing about the Collaboratory's first week is that by combining the Ning network with people in the room, people could actually see each other. There is importance in combining virtual meetings with the real meetspace.

Len Witt: For this to work, it is going to be vital for people to have something of value when they come to it. Hopefully people will be able to work in small, granular ways and work when they want to and what they want to work on. He talks about, which is sort of a NewsU for things that are not news. Lynda is $25/month or $250 annually. It is tech oriented.

Josh Benton: To the users who get that content, they use it. So they are willing to pay for it. The news industry has to be more self conscious about creating things that have lasting value. That's what people will pay for.

Joe Bergantino: Is there a way to deliver investigative reporting on a regional basis? There are organizations forming in Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas. "There is going to be a need to create webs of organizations that help each other with content."

Jan Schaffer: The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in Oklahoma now has a focus on funding investigative journalism and Jan is on their journalism advisory board. They have just funded Brant Houston, Andy Hall, the Fund for Investigative Journalism and a couple of other things.

Len Witt: The service of advising on investigative reporting is a valuable service.

Roz Bernstein: It seems that someplace on this site there needs to be an ask the experts. Gotham, when it has a need could get in there and the value is they would get expert opnion on a reporting question or a technical questions.

What we bring, what we can offer

  • Geanne Rosenberg: Let's go around the room and get everyone to say, if you were to partipcate in this network, what resources would you bring?
  • Richard Anderson talks about the ability to build a learn, share, shopping network via

Jan Schaffer: On your platform, can people call it whatever they want?

Discussion about whether we are trying to help legacy papers or new entrepreneurs.

Anderson: "We are trying to find the transformation of the local weekly newspaper . . . what we trying to find most of all is a sustainable model . . . if that forces some things into cookie cutters, that's going to happen . . . we're looking for something that we can all believe in that is sustainable today."

Ruth Ann Harnish: Need to speed along.

How would it help you and how would you contribute to it:

  • Joe Bergantino: Expertise on investigative journalism.
  • Bill Densmore: The Information Valet Service:

Bill: We can bring a shared-user network for privacy-protected demographic management that enables a two-way exchange of value between content websites and consumers. Consumers will pick their most-trusted information valet -- which might be their local online news community. Both the community, as their information valet -- and the consumer can be compensated for looking at ads and engaging in sponsored relationships -- and also purchase or contribute to information that is important to their daily life. So it's a network that supports advertising, and content, with users receiving value for sharing their demographic profile.

  • Howard Finberg: Their online training and conference facilities and teachers. Can bring NewsTracker and make it open so that others can contribute.
  • Josh Benton: They are doing original reporting on the changes of the industry, "the Romenesko that isn't quite as depressing." A couple of thousand people a day show up. The second think is case studies of new business models for news, identifying sites that are promising and look at it very analytically. They will eventually start to abstract out best practices. They are looking for funding for that. they hope to have first case studies up in about six weeks. They hope to do one new one per week. It will be a journalistic version of the HBS case-study method -- much shorter, less-academic time frame. But will work wth HBS professors about beset way to do it.

Howard Finberg: What about a schema.

Bill Densmore: Envisions a wholesale database that everyone can put their retail front on and which many contribute to and which is open source in terms of information and code. Josh Benton should update Jan's database as he works. Jan's database gets more extensible and more semantic and updated. So that everyone works from the same backend but puts their own front on it. Pulling what they, contributing what they have.

  • Len Witt: Wants to contribute, but doesn't want to divide on projects he working on in other places. What would it take to get the 10 hours of return. What Josh Benton is doing will be really beneficial, detailed case studies.
  • David Mathieson: He is not a journalist, but an entrepreneurial journalist who pioneered content syndication at Reuters. He can bring in some perspectives about syndication. It is the underlying protocol beyond blogs, video and audio. It ties together all journalism. People get journalistic and political messages from all kinds of ways now. He wants to see multimedia sites that provide interactive intelligence about a community. He brings business models from "outside the norm of journalism."
  • Gail Robinson: They can offer a track record of "nine years of doing this" and therefore things that work and don't work. She cites various things they have done or are doing at Gotham Gazette. Example: How to cover a lot of city council races. "We can help you that but we have to talk with you." That's an example of the kind of expertise they have developed.

Ruth Ann: What about interviewing you once and it is available anywhere?

Howard Finberg: Suggests an online webinar.

Bill Densmore: Suggests using Macs with cameras and UStream to interview people like Gail at Gotham Gazette on best-practice topics all around the country and then someone like Howard Finberg at Poynter could organize all that into a learning framework.

  • JOhn at Poynter: Agnostic about a site. Too static. He would be more excited if they could take on projects that come up with new tools. What can we offer to a network? They are working on interactive portals so all of their projects are presented so that they can be accessed by students. They are using WordPress. Another idea is finding new sources to pay for journalism content. The last idea is taking advantage of Baruch's students.
  • Jan Schaffer: We can certain provide micro-grants. They can provide a model on software and hardware applications. They can continue to aggregate sites so they can be search geographically around the country. They are moving forward to build funding for a civic-media network, trying to get journalists to have a collaborative rather than competitive framework.

Geanne Rosenberg: What if we (Baruch) were actually supporting the journalism?

Jan Schaffer: It would be duplicating, but she can't possibly meet the need -- she has over 1,000 proposals.

There was a discussion that a much as sites want to collaborate, there may be a problem with funders, who are looking for metrics of activity on a particular website. If we send people off somewhere else, is that a problem with the metrics? A discussion about this resolves that there may need to be a need for discussion with funders about policies which encourage sharing and linking and collaboration.

Ruth Ann Harnish: We don't want to talk about necessarily a "Baruch site." That's not the idea.

Joe Bergantino: Is there a way to bring these people together in a collaboration.

Howard Finberg: The big challenge for this kind of effort to work is to go beyond what each individual wants to gather. Some people want to go deep and some wide. There are pieces to gather before knowing what works.

Gail Robinson: For this to be valuable, at some point to really help people, they are going to want to have discussion or one on one contact. IdeaLab might be an idea exchange, but requests for feedback haven't always been met with a response. She's not sure why.

Geanne Rosenberg: It's tough when you have a consortium and there is not one person in charge of it, it is tough to get people to contribute. How to get people accountable so it is not a free-for-all. There needs to be some sense of a clear mission.

Joe Bergantino: Is there a consensus that there is a need to have an aggregation site.

Josh Benton: Is that the best use? Maybe a cookbook.

Howard Finberg: Talks about the ingredients for the cookbook.

Roz Bernstein: What if there were keywords that reflect what we're doing.

  • New business models for journalism

(hosted on the Poynter site)

There was some discussion about what to do for sites once their initial funding is exhuasted.

Len Witt: Talks about the 850 sites -- how many are viable, and would they want to join an association.

Jan Schaffer: They are mom and pops. They have day jobs. It is hard to get them on the road. It could be hard to get them to an association. They need really fast advice. We have created Nings for them. They are not well used.

Len Witt: They need a voice they can call. A real person maybe.

It is agreed the goal is not to help Baruch create a program, but to find a sustainability model for journalism and to create efficiencies.

Joe Bergantino: There is a need for a cookbook to help people with establishing this thing across the country. In creating the cookbook, you have the test kitchen. There just needs to be a cookbook. They can go to the Poynter for the training.

Len Witt: For the 850 small organizations or move up to a weekly newspaper or commercial operations?

Josh Benton: What are the questions that these start-up peole have. Legal issues, for example. I don't think there is one website that you shoudl think of. That x hasn't been filled. (Densmore asked Jan if that should/would/could be her site? She said it's a huge updating job.)

Howard Finberg: He thinks we need to hire a researcher who takes whatever peole have gotten so far, put it in a common database and then go out and start talking to these people to make sure when something changes that they update. It's not a new model."

Duy Linh Tu has just joined the session from Columbia Graduate School of JOurnalism. He asks, is this a problem to save journalism or the business of journalism? You can give people Wordpress modules, and teach advertising, but teaching people who to produce video or do an audio slide show, that can't be done online. The "stuff" is a hard thing to produce.

Geanne Rosenberg: "We are trying to figure out how to support future news reporting." One approach is what can we do to support online news sites. And what kind of experimentation can Baruch do to add value. And how can we get new sites up and running.

Steve Shepard: He is encourage there is so much going on but discouraged it is so poorly coordinated. "I don't know what I can contribute, really." IN some ways everybody pulling back is not a good way to do it because sometimes competition produces innnovation, but on the other hand I don't want to waste resources. CUNY Graduate School of Journalism can provide students. It's very ethnically diverse. "There are a whole bunch of things we are going to do which we are going to do, there are other things we probably shouldn't do." He says he is delighted to see Harvard planning the case studies. "We will find out some way to collaborate. I do think we would like to know more about what is going on elsewhere. If there were a Romenesko for this new world, I would find that valuable."

Len Witt: If you just go to Romenesko you are missing a ton of stuff that Romenesko doesn't see. I go and look at what Jeff Jarvis is doing often. In some ways, that's what I'm trying to say... there is collaborative work going on out there.

Steve Shepard: How do we make it easier to collaborate? There are too many sites to go to and three aren't enough hours in the day. Education, training, sustainable journalism models.

Josh Benton: A lot of innovation is going on in places like the NYTimes that we don't know about or follow.

Duy Linh Tu sites the case of the site which started as a way for Andrew Devigal to keep track of his bookmarks. If aggregation is done too much it is a distraction.