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The Journalism Accelerator’s (JA’s) blog reports on a broad range of experiments unfolding in the field. Evolving daily, news and community publishers across journalism networks share much common ground, but have unique brands and market challenges. Posting content on the beat of news, we’re excited by the passion of publishers and hope to document some of the creative ways the business of news continues to re-imagine itself. The blog offers a range of feature content, much of it our reporting out to you what we’re learning from our experimentation across the JA. We think of the blog, related resources and featured items as compost that we hope helps fuel experiments, cross pollinating innovation and emerging practices with the wisdom of the field to seed new ideas.

JA Resource Q&A: “Building a great community”

Disqus is a third-party commenting platform, created in 2007 because the founders felt comment systems hadn’t evolved from the Internet’s early years. Disqus says it helps a range of customers “[f]rom small blogs to massive websites … build active communities.”

Journalism Accelerator

Having the option to comment on anything posted online seems ubiquitous and universal. But, as publishers covering local beats know well, there are many choices happening behind the scenes that affect how people experience online conversation, contribute to it and come to develop relationships as part of an online community on a given site.

Your choices could begin with something as simple as selecting options in a Word Press theme. As you grow and refine goals for the comment section of your site, you may begin to look at software that allows for more nuance and networking.

To discuss the pros and cons of commenting tools and learn more about how online conversation is evolving, we invited Disqus VP of Business Development Ro Gupta to share his insight and expertise. Disqus is the largest commenting system on the web, reaching over 700 million people per month, according to the company. This conversation is part of our series showcasing JA-curated resources designed to offer practical tips and useful insights to increase your yield and deepen your success.  (more…)

Community Journalism Executive Training: Define your exit to build a legacy

A huge experiment


CJET brought more than thirty community and investigative publishers together for intensive, hands-on business training. Check out presentations and resources that emerged, download useful know-how.

Journalism Accelerator

It felt odd to consider “exit strategy” at the recent Community Journalism Executive Training program, which brought nearly three dozen news organizations to Los Angeles for two days of intense, hands-on work developing specific business strategies and action plans.

After all, the vast majority of organizations attending only opened their doors a few years ago.

But the training, funded by the Knight Foundation, The Patterson Foundation and the McCormick Foundation, hosted by the Knight Digital Media Center and organized by the Investigative News Network, aimed to equip people running startup community and investigative media outlets with the skills and attitude to pull their business-owner hats firmly down on their heads – and wear them all the time.

And that means thinking about exit strategy. (more…)

JA Resource Q&A: A social strategy of “purpose and intention”

Former journalist Kimberly Wilson started SocialNewsDesk to tailor social media management to the quirks of a newsroom. She wanted to solve three problems she saw in newsrooms social media management: organization, security and setting goals. 

Journalism Accelerator

What are the biggest challenges for news organizations juggling multiple social media platforms? In the ever-changing, character-limited continuum of Twitter and Facebook, what ways can you most effectively build your business, organize your system, engage your audience with information that is useful to them, maintain internal confidentiality and synchronize the work of your team?

To understand how deliberate systematization can optimize your social media presence on a large or small scale, we invited SocialNewsDesk founder Kimberly Wilson and social media curator Cynthia Parkhill to share their expertise and experience. It’s part of our regular series of live conversations showcasing resources that offer support to the journalism community.  (more…)

Conversations for impact: New ethical considerations for political coverage

Doug Oplinger presenting at KSU

Akron Beacon Journal managing editor Doug Oplinger says journalists let “too many politicians… shove their own agendas down the pipe.” Credit: Kent State University

Journalism Accelerator

Getting somewhere new. That’s what the four online JA conversations building on the 2012 Poynter/Kent State media ethics workshop are designed to do. Tap into the wisdom of people experienced in ethics, political coverage or both; hear the questions of those fresh to the field; create, informed by these conversations, a crowdsourced best practices guide to political coverage exploring approaches and challenges across the field.

Kent State University journalism professor Jan Leach will lead the creation of that guide in early 2013. Meanwhile, the conversation threads stay open for your input. Outlined below are a number of places where we welcome you to participate! This post highlights key points from discussions on fact-checking and changing the approach to reporting. An earlier distillation covers conversations on managing “access journalism” and the challenges of social media in political coverage. (more…)

Philosophy and practicalities: Can shared best practices free political coverage from “attack ads and pack journalism?”

Kent State Presentation

Kelly McBride (left) and Ellyn Angeletti, both with Poynter, share major developments and ethical pitfalls in the last decade of political coverage with participants of the 2012 Poynter Kent State media ethics workshop. Credit: Kent State University

Journalism Accelerator

Conversations on the JA about social accountability and trading anonymity for access to powerful sources opened up two of the many timely ethical issues that come up in political coverage. These are part of a collaboration with Kent State University that grows out of the 2012 Poynter Kent State media ethics workshop, which this year highlighted the “dirty politics” of “blistering sound bites, attack ads and pack journalism.” The ideas and examples to improve coverage that are shared in these conversations will be distilled into a new best practices guide. Here are highlights from the first two discussions in the conversation series.


Social accountability

In the first conversation in this series, social accountability meant being accountable for your reporting, in your community, even as social media blurs the line between personal and professional worlds.

There is a lot of ground a best practices guide can cover! Here are some highlights from what’s been shared so far.

The big issue is how transparent to be. (more…)

Ten hot ethical challenges facing political reporting in 2012

Gregory Korte
USA Today reporter Gregory Korte tells the crowd at the 2012 Poynter Kent State Media Ethics Workshop why he sometimes agrees to quote approval. Credit: Kent State University
Journalism Accelerator

“The values of journalism are under pressure.” With that remark, Kelly McBride of The Poynter Institute set the stage for “Dirty Politics,” the 2012 ethics workshop at Kent State University.

Here are ten hot ethical challenges in political coverage that emerged from the workshop. Join in the series of online conversations exploring ways to handle them. Bring your questions! Bring your experience! Help uncover ethical issues in political coverage that require clarity to provide the accurate reporting people deserve to inform their vote.


Political coverage: Responsive and responsible? Help inform a best practices guide

Red State, Blue State Map

Ethics of images? In the 2000 election, The New York Times created one of the first “red state, blue state” maps. This simple data presentation “changed the way we thought about politics,” Poynter’s Kelly McBride told the crowd at the 2012 Poynter Kent State Media Ethics workshop.

Journalism Accelerator

What are the ethical considerations you apply to your reporting in a high-stakes, fast-paced election when:

  • truth is deliberately subject to distortion or lies
  • money is increasingly influential yet harder to track
  • insults distract from the issues
  • people who will be directly affected by the actions of those elected feel disconnected from the process
  • the public largely blames the media as part of the problem

Don’t struggle with these questions alone, or debate them isolated in your own newsroom! Join a larger community of peers, together with the Journalism Accelerator, the Kent State School of Journalism, Poynter and The Civic Commons to gather examples and explore ideas from the 2012 election to inform a new Ethics Best Practices Guide to Political Coverage. Be a part of it and join us! (more…)

JA Resource Q&A: The Civic Commons draws a line from online engagement to policy impact

Civic Commons
The Civic Commons is designed as a social media environment for civil conversation and action, where the expertise of non-experts contributes to public knowledge. Moulthrop says it’s a form of journalism. “What we’re doing is bringing the public into the conversation in a way that is sophisticated, civil and productive.”

Journalism Accelerator

The Civic Commons was conceived as a “social media environment designed explicitly for public good.” Physically based in Ohio, it is an online home for conversation that intersects with news that affects people’s lives. Recent discussions have tackled parental support for public education, gas and oil development, including fracking, civility in public discourse, and drawing new boundaries in a county with 59 municipalities!

The Civic Commons partners with local media organizations to go deeper on stories and tap into a wealth of community knowledge. The JA is also partnering with The Civic Commons, Poynter and Kent State University to put on a series of discussions that will lead to a new ethics guide to best practices in political coverage. We chose The Civic Commons for our series of chats about resources listed on the JA to learn more about how civic conversation can contribute to journalism and deepen reporting on the issues that matter to local communities. (more…)

JA Revisits: Ashoka and The Christian Science Monitor find “resonance”

Make Change / Christian Science Monitor

Checking in on an experiment: Ashoka and The Christian Science Monitor co-brand.

Journalism Accelerator

In the rich JA conversations earlier this year on collaboration in the news business, Keith Hammonds, director of Ashoka’s Knowledge Initiative, sketched out a “new sort of collaboration.” Soon after, Ashoka, an institution dedicated to innovative social change, and The Christian Science Monitor, a news organization committed to thoughtful, contextualized coverage, launched the project: a two week trial run of a cooperative effort designed to give Monitor readers the chance to actively respond to stories in ways that might change them. Or possibly the world.

So how did it turn out? (more…)

JA Resource Q&A: JReporter “facilitates a two-way conversation between the media company and its audience.”


JReporter is a mobile software app designed for editors to ask for community reporting, and get back useful, verifiable information in an easy to manage way. There is room for ads and sponsorships. JReporter can also send news stories to readers. It’s new, and JJCS is looking for partners to test drive.

Journalism Accelerator

JReporter is new; its creators at JJCS are looking for newsrooms with a commitment to community engagement to test it. Essentially, JReporter is a white label (meaning you can put your own brand on it) mobile app that’s designed to make gathering and reporting community news easy for both contributors (whether professional reporters or community contributors) and news organizations.

We chose JReporter for the second in our new online conversation series highlighting specific resources for publishers from our growing collection because it aims to solve specific problems we hear about in JA conversations, most notably fewer staff, challenges in engaging audience, and the need for multiple sources of revenue.

“Just like other apps on their smart phones.” That is how JJCS executive director Jo Ann Froelich would describe JReporter to someone who might use it to send video of a school soccer match, or a bit of Q &A from a city council meeting, to a local news organization. It “facilitates a two-way conversation between the media company and its audience,” says JJCS founder John Juliano. Editors can “assign” with JReporter by posting a note about what coverage they’re actively looking for. (more…)

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