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A chance to stand up

In a story about the Project on Excellence in Journalism's 2009 "State of the News Media" report, Time Magazine's M.J. Stephey concluded March 16: " . . . [I]f solutions aren't obvious, the report's overall message is: Will the future leaders of journalism please, please stand up?"

A new collaboration -- the Journalism Trust Association initiative and Innovation Engine

The Journalism Trust Association initiative is a place, and ideas, around which journalism's supporters can stand up, partner, experiment, leave the gates behind, and begin sharing in a new information commons. It's an evolving initiative of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The proposed mission of the Innovation Engine is to help sustain, update and enrich the values and purposes of journalism through collaboration with news media, other enterprises, the public and public-focused institutions to discover and champion viable business models for online journalism.

Our vision, in collaboration with others, is to seed the building of an online ecosystem that delivers value to networked end users and sustains news content creators. We will do this while providing strong control for users of their demographic and financial data within a redefined reader-advertiser relationship.

Six news industry strategic needs

Six strategic objectives face the news industry if it is to “cross the chasm” from the old world of mass market content-reader-advertiser products to a new service world of social networks, collaboration and customized value exchange. As core objectives, the industry must leverage:

      • Multimedia, unique local or topical information
      • Social networking through news and information sites
      • Contextually relevant content delivery (personalization)
      • Broadened “Deep Web” access
      • Enhanced-CPM, precisely-targeted ad delivery
      • Convenient, secure access to paid content

Six methods for reaching those needs

JTI will therefore act to enable:

      • Migration of the newspaper industry to a new trust relationship with users of multimedia platforms, leveraging the value of deep, unique, local or topical information.
      • Social networking that operates through news and information content web sites at all levels from local to international.
      • Delivery of contextually-relevant content resources to networked site visitors through persistent search and other methods.
      • Easy, low-cost access to “Deep Web” and other content now stored behind pay, registration, membership and proprietary barriers.
      • Delivery of high CPM, precisely targeted advertising and other commercial content relevant to a reader’s expressly shared demographic profile, social networking connections, ad content preferences and browsin

JTI is promoting the vision of an Information Valet economy, an online ecosystem to re-invent the value news organizations provide to their communities by transforming how content is acquired and exchanged and enabling readers and advertisers to interact on a private, one-to-one basis. By helping newspapers, and other media outlets, turn themselves into vibrant, real-time, always-on 'social networks', the JTI hopes an InfoValet economy would usher in a new era of relevance -- and sustainability -- for content providers.

First step: News-based social network

An initial form could be a news-based social network, strongly relevant content, absolute control for users over their demographic and financial data, and a means to share, sell and buy content from multiple sources with a single account. The network will support news content creators by delivering high-value commercial content to end users; and will enable a two-way flow of payments or reward points in consumer accounts.

The Journalism Trust Innovation Engine at RJI will reach out to a wide array of potential collaborators in order to seed this ecosystem, and may consider the possibility of forming a not-for-profit entity to do so.

What to do

If you and your organization are interested in helping reinvent the financial underpinnings of the news business, please contact us to find out how.

Bill Densmore, 2009-2009 Fellow
Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
Missouri School of Journalism
201 RJI Building
Columbia MO 65211
(573) 882-9812