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 Lynda.com, 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 VillageSoup.com
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 Transformation Tracker [database] and NewsPay blog  and make both open so that others can contribute. Also NewsU [www.newsu.org] has Webinar software and other training tools.
- 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 http://www.interactivenarratives.org 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.
Joe Bergantino: How do we address the continuing problem of getting information to people.
Jan Schaffer: Thinks these vacuume will be filled.
Bill Densmore: What about just having people do more of what you do? What about porting your model to Baruch doing more of it.
Jan Schaffer: That would be possible.
Steve Shepard: What about creating templates for how you would replace the Philadelphia Inquirer if it went away, and then take it to various cities? Maybe we need to collaborate on going head on into these big cities.
Richard Anderson: I would answer that you would be wrong. That it will be replaced by weeklies.
Geanne Rosenberg: There are two small cities near New Haven that have lost coverage. We could do something there.
Steve Shepard: I can't talk about it too much but we are going to do an experiment like that in another community.
A game plan begins to emerge
Geanne Rosenberg: She sees emerging:
- URBAN JOURNALISM MODEL -- Work with Gotham Gazette to find revenue stream streams and help get things covered using student resources. John Sawyer, Richard Anderson, David Mathieson and Adam Glenn agree to work on that.
- SMALL CITY TEST -- Go into a place of 30,000-40,000 where there is no local coverage, where they have lost their local coverage. It is open to advertising and potential subscribers. Think of the best place to do that. Collaborators: Len Witt, Joe Bergantino and Steve Shepard.
- AGGREGATION/DATABASE -- Figuring out ways to aggregate the resources of content sites, which would have to be done with Poynter (Tracker idea) and J-Lab and Nieman. Collaborators: Bill Densmore. Josh Benton.
- COOKBOOK -- The third idea is the cookbook idea, done in collaboration. For Baruch to take on the cookbook isn't the way. There should be a continued discussion about how to source it. Howard Finberg, Jane Stevens, Joe Bergantino, Jan Schaffer.
- ADVERTISING -- Experimentation with new, personalized advertising models.
"So I see four very concrete projects that we could start working on."
What about advertising?
Adam Glenn: The funding and foundation model is an interesting one. But he is interested in the advertiser-supported model because foundation funding will only go so far. An advertiser-supported model, given changes in how people are getting their news and information, forces us as journalists to think about different ways to reach our audience. This is what has supported journalism in this country.
Jan Schaffer: But the problem is there a finite number of ad banners and tiles.
Adam Glenn: Talks about how at a Mizzou class a student brough in an idea of a social network around a business community like restaurants -- references a Yelp community. You could imagine a Yelp community as part of your news organization.
Bill Densmore: Talks about changing the nature of advertising -- even dropping that term, and talking about a new kind of personalized relationship with the consumer.
Gail Robinson: Talks about how Gotham feels out of their league with advertising. Need help there.
Geanne Rosenberg: Baruch could help understand this.
Roz Bernstein: Talks about her son's "graffetti advertising" business. "The old style of advertising -- it's gone. When you think about advertising, you have to thing about whole new thing."
Chris Hallowell: Likes the idea of going into a neighborhood and starting a site. But he is also fascinated about advertising and it being a key to the revenue stream. Some of the community newspapers he has seen with both a print and online edition. He's also thinking about what David Mathieson said about things being sold word of mouth. An important concept. And a wonderful informality to that and it can be put on an online publication to give it some life.
Joe Bergantino: One idea is to bring together advertising and marketing people into this venture.
Richard Anderson: Have only 5% of market penetration. But they have three times what the NYTimes is getting per capita. "So we are extremely successful in terms of what everybody else is getting."
Geanne Rosenberg: Suggests thinking about local couponing.
Dave Mathieson: "The time might be to begin to experiement with what is working in the film and music world and that is word-of-mouth marketing. People here about they next great song or movie from their friends . . . it is a trusted relationship with people you trust."
Len Witt: I like all of this because I am looking at a different model. I want people to pay for it. He likes the idea of being to drop in on other experimentation and share other experimentation.
Figuring out how to supply community-information needs
Len Witt: What's needed is a process for assessing what information is available to a given community, and where there are key pieces of information not being provided, an approach to helping the community provide that information. He sees real benefit in doing that.
IDEA: Pairing journalists with technologists
Roz Bernstein: Their students love to go out into communities and find stories under the radar. They find these stories all the time. "They are stories which I wish the NYTimes or Newsday would do, and they don't." They are also getting really terrific with technology. She likes the idea of sponsoring in some way in both directions and mentor a project where people who are technically savvy are paired with experienced journalists.
Baruch student Jose Bayona offers his perspective on the day.
David Mathieson: To Jose: Remember that journalism is not just print, or maybe not even print. It is film too. That's your expertise.
Richard Anderson: Consider working not with someone who lost their newspaper, but with three or four people who have a going entity who are open to the fact that they need to do something different. "If we can get the 10,000 existing newspapers to transform, it is going to be so much better than working with a whole lot of startups."