Innovation Review

The Knight News Challenge winners have an insight into news and the processes of what it means to get the public and news community what it needs to survive the current climate. There were many projects that I think will definitely help citizens understand what is happening in their neighborhood and perhaps find parts of their community that did not know was available before.

The themes that I see for a lot of these winners are that they seem to be extremely specific/hyperlocal. For example 2007 winner Adrian Holovaty created Everyblock, which is a database that collects information (crime reports, restaurant inspections) for large cities. It has a limited amount of cities that it covers; however, it does have an option to email them on the first page with a suggestion for your home city. For Holovaty’s project, Everyblock, it is very useful for someone that lives in that city, but it appears to be too hyperlocal. If you are not an inhabitant of that particular city or plan to move to that city, than it is of no used to you. It is an altogether great resource, however, if they are going to do this project and get a million dollars, I think there should be more than eight cities on their web site.

Another theme that I have noticed is for open-sourced sites that allow people to collaborate. 2007 winner Richard Anderson’s project VillageSoup to have open sourced community news software. It is combining what is in the community offline to online. I think this is convenient for the people of the community and is good for promotion within that one place. For Anderson’s project, VillageSoup, it seems to be very cluttered. It covers news and communities by counties, and each the layouts look the same to me. It can be confusing when the pages are so similar to each other.

A very important theme that the majority of the winners have is reaching particular audiences and progressing with the technology as it comes. 2008 winners Chris Cslkszentmihalyi, Mitchel Resnik, Henry Jenkins created a Center for Future Civic Media built a very intuitive Web site to involve the community in news experiments and new technologies. For the project on the Future Civic Media, I really like their idea and web site. I do not see any apparent weaknesses because they have encompassed a lot of trends that is necessary to reach out to the community. I do think that they could branch off more to advertise their campaign.

2009 winner Scott Rosenberg is promoting transparency in journalism through his MediaBugs project, which is extremely relevant. It is very timely in this day and age to have a new way for people to find a way to trust the news again. This is necessary for people to know that they can trust news, whether it is in print or online. MediaBugs project is very relevant and something that I think is necessary today, however the only weakness is that Rosenberg does not seem to update his blog too often and does not have his web site up yet. I understand because he just recently won, he is still working on the project and still has those things in the developing project. I do think that he should have more things available more steadily.

Originally, my idea was sparked when we were talking about journalists not being able to use twitter because of the lack of objectivity. I thought it would be good to have an outlet for journalists. However, looking over these other projects threw that out the window because it did not have the same themes and objectives of current winners and the road that journalism is leading. We do not need to think about what would make our lives better but for what makes it better for the audience. So, I have been thinking about doing a project that will involve the Rio Grande Valley. Although they do have a major newspaper that has recently gone through a development, they do not have enough investigative reporting. I also feel like people do not really have a voice or involved in the news. I want to create something that will get those people more involved with their community first hand and to have something they could go to get more involved.

Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Analyzing New Models

As a young journalist about to embark in the field, I, along with many others have been wondering in what direction will journalism be headed. In what form are we going to deliver newspapers: print, Web site, Kindle, Iphone, Twitter? We have all been dabbling in different ways to get the news out there but we still have questions as to what is the most effective, what will entice readers to keep coming back for news and still allow us to turn profit?

Although in the video above, journalism is compared to porn, it brings about good point that people will pay for something that they want, despite it being free elsewhere. Journalism needs to “indispensible, necessary and fulfilling a need.” As of now in the digital age, we have come to the point where just about anything can be tossed out and we are on to the next fad.

We need to establish what the most important things that are needed for the new journalism business model. Out of a lot of the models that have emerged there are common themes linking them all. These models are efficient. Our readers need to be able to get everything they need from the news site or have it be easily accessible to them. What makes up that content derives from who your readers are, whether it be the local consumers or for a national audience.

The way that the industry is going, a simple news site is no longer an option. For news to be getting out there to audiences, the models are leaning towards social platforms replacing these sites. With this in mind, these new sites will require more interactivity, where citizens/readers can collaborate more with the news organization.

Because there are so many options currently out there, a news organization simply cannot act alone. It is important for these models to also hold networked content. Outside organizations are necessary for collaboration as well.  A lot of the most profitable papers right now are ones that have a hyperlocal base. However, the only way that these papers will be widespread and raise readership is by helped distribution by bigger papers and news organizations. For example, the “reverse-syndication model” holds that the new news organization would create “highly targeted content that can be distributed on the sites of other members of the network.”  This model incorporates direct participation from the public, allowing distribution to be easier among citizens as well as bloggers in the area. Within a blog, they have their content and link out to other stories and ideas that are related to their original post. This leads people to collaborate together to get more readers.

Bloggers appeal derives from linking to more stories that will ultimately drive readership.

Bloggers' appeal derives from linking to more stories that will ultimately drive readership.

These models differ in several ways as well. The payment structure of these news organizations has been changing as the Internet has come on board. In past business models, news organization relied mostly on advertisements, subscriptions, as well as the price of the print edition being the livelihood of their profits. Although there have been models where people have charged for news online, it ultimately did not work. The Wall Street Journal has been successful with this type of model, however. Allowing for some of their content to be free, the articles that are meant for the typical niche reader is charged for certain articles.

New ways to fund news have been on everyone’s radar in this economy lately as well. There have been new proposals of micropayments, which is a means of transferring small amounts of money to get access to articles or other content for the news media. Although there has been a lot of speculation and debate as to whether these will actually work, it is still an option for news outlets. Other newspapers that have gone online only have included “tip jars” for their readers to donate to the livelihood of the newspaper. In the current economic climate, there has been speculation if the government should take part in bailing out newspapers with the enormous amount of debt accumulated on major metropolitan papers.

The model that most interests me for new news models is the one that The Wall Street Journal has been using all along. Although it is aimed towards a highly niche audience that will pay for their information, it reminds me of all the times I am doing research for school. As every student knows, there comes the time in certain classes (in all ages) that it is necessary to research the web for a research project. As a student, you are taught that you need to find credible sources to provide the context of your research. The first place that I always thought to go to was the newspaper because they are your source to go for reliable information. However, when they were trying to have me access just ONE article, they said I needed to purchase an entire subscription. In the end, to view this one article, I would have to pay in the upwards of $500. I ultimately had to use other means because I was not going to pay that amount of money for just one article. However, my point with this long story is that I still would have paid. People will be willing to pay for something that they need and is fulfilling to them.

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  

How did newspapers get where they are today?

For generations, the newspaper journalism has been the citizen watchdog and some say the agenda setter for society as a whole. But as we have seen in the recent years of the steady decline in readership as people are getting their news through different outlets, which are all connected to the internet in some form.

Why and how did this conglomerate change the way we get our outlet to the outside world? The internet solved the core publishing issue of newspapers, according to Clay Shirky. In his words, “the printing presses are terrifically expensive to set up and run.” It had been worth it at the time before the digital age because you would only have one other competitor when you working in the stand point of smaller town. It forced everyone into doing a similar set of organization models, so the only differences were which stories covered and different angles. But the newspaper was still involved in what you were going to hear as news.

For all these reasons the internet is one of the main reasons that newspapers are declining in popularity and usage. We have turned into a society that does not want to read a 20 inch story when we can theoretically get the same information in a scroll of our screen or headline in twitter. The internet has allowed for web 2.0 to let readers have more of a community online and get our opinions heard. The internet also allows us to do things more quickly. Another reason is that the newspapers allow for our news and the way we connect with the outside world through our personalized niches. We have many more perspectives available at a smaller cost.

Some feel that the loss of newspapers will be the loss of journalistic integrity completely. But I do not buy it. Currently, many newspapers are no longer merely giving a “digital facelift” to the paper but adding different content to their sites and trying to make it more of a means of survival to enhance their skills online. The Austin-American Statesman, for example, has made it accessible through internet options such as phone applications, twitter, and web 2.0 features as well such as comment sections after stories. But in a graphic from, this is one paper in the country that is not like many others it has attracted many potential buyers. Many newspapers across the country have had to result to cutbacks in staffing, amount of news, and reduced space.

Ann Arbor News decided to take a whole new route altogether. They decided to stop their print edition altogether to create a more profitable enterprise, trying to rebrand the 175-year-old News as a Web publication. They have fixed costs such as paper, printing, and delivery have been drastically reduced, went from a staff of 316 to 60—plus some 80 from the “preferred blogging community” the majority unpaid.

I do feel that there will always be a need for newspapers. But does our future contain daily newspaper? No. The only reason I feel it will stick around for the next 5 to 10 years  is sentimental value for the daily newspaper. I also feel it is because we have yet come up with a good enough alternative to print for the internet alone to be withstanding. I understand that newspapers are still profitable because there are several advertisers that still use them for insert advertisements.

Personally, I absolutely love the Sunday paper and would really like to keep that tradition alive. I just think the newspaper needs to be restricted. It has been just taken for granted by our generation, we see a newspaper and we want to use it to help us pack up our knick-nacks and line the litter box, it isn’t our go-to like online news is for us. Many of the articles I have read have been from former newspaper employees who are now on the online spectrum and have some nostalgia of having a printed paper in their hands with their morning coffee.

I do not agree with Gary Kamiya saying that the death of newspapers equals the death of news. He states that if we let the Internet win, than there will be no need for journalism to come to the extent that it is now. But what I feel is that we are just advancing our skills with online and not replacing the quality of news but making it more affordable for everyone. I understand that our generation has not been the most avid, loyal readers of the printed word, however, we have always had that as our option. When that is gone—does that mean that our need for news will be gone? No. I do not believe it does.

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 5:25 am  Leave a Comment  

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Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 8:48 pm  Comments (1)