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

November 9, 2012 in Blog, Education, Revenue

A huge experiment

CJET Map

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. Read the rest of this entry →

JA publisher profile: The Hawaii Independent, a profitable co-op “rooted in the community…like the Green Bay Packers.”

August 29, 2012 in Blog, Community, Revenue

About Ikaika Hussey

Ikaika Hussey helped start The Hawaii Independent with a handful of local journalists and activists in 2008. He previously worked in community organizing, and says he “knew a lot of stories” that he felt needed to be told. He says making sure to do sales along with editorial work every single day allowed The Independent to turn a profit last year. He expects another profitable year in 2012.

Journalism Accelerator

The Hawaii Independent started as a standard, albeit small, for-profit corporation five years ago. A handful of local investors put their money into the local news venture built by a group of local journalists and activists, including editor and publisher Ikaika Hussey. But after several years, Hussey went back to those investors and pitched a switch to a cooperative business model for the news organization. The change happened earlier this year; he mentioned the plans during the JA forum on local and niche news sites last February. We called him recently to follow up and learned that The Hawaii Independent now offers both subscriptions and ownership, with different benefits, following international cooperative principles and guided by organizational bylaws.

Hussey is inspired by The Banyan Project, his belief that independent media must be locally owned, and a vision of community contributors building solid journalism. The Hawaii Independent was profitable last year, and Hussey intends to send all member-owners a check at the end of 2012. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Read the rest of this entry →

From Competition to Cooperation: Engaging Cable, Satellite, Internet and Mobile Broadband Service Providers in Meeting the Information Needs of Communities

July 13, 2012 in Distribution, Policy, Resources

Filling gaps in accountability journalism, including waning statehouse coverage, was the central focus when the Center for Media Law and Policy, a joint project of the journalism and law schools at UNC, convened a day-long workshop Jan. 20, 2012, to reflect on the Federal Communication Commission’s 2011 report The Information Needs of Communities.

Report author Steven Waldman was among the participants. “Many a government report has evaporated into the ether after publication,” he said, so the series of workshops organized by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation represents an important model for leveraging a study like his create greater impact…

Because the UNC workshop’s task was to consider ways in which cable, satellite, Internet and mobile providers might contribute more to efforts to bolster accountability journalism, discussion cut across a range of topics broached in Waldman’s FCC report. The workshop could be seen as a barometer for gauging which of the report’s raft of recommendations seemed most urgent to local actors…

The UNC workshop revealed a surprising appetite for cross-industry cooperation. Because participants were especially interested in market-based and voluntary initiatives, the FCC’s role was limited in many discussions.” Source: From Competition to Cooperation report (pdf)

Reporters’ Lab: Tools, Techniques & Research for Public Affairs Reporting

February 24, 2012 in Craft, Resources, Technology

Every day, government offices from the local police department to the federal Department of Energy generate artifacts that could become vital elements in investigative and other original journalism. Even when reporters can pry those records from agency warehouses and hard drives, the stories are still hidden in hours of videos, stacks of forms and gigabytes of data housed in unfriendly formats.

More troubling, the full-time reporters who ply their trade in city halls and statehouses are disappearing,  A 2011 study by the Federal Communications Commission documented the decline of local watchdog reporting and described a resulting ‘shift in the balance of power — away from citizens, toward powerful institutions.’

Our goal at the Reporters’ Lab can be stated quite simply: Narrow the power gap by arming on-the-ground reporters with the tools, methods and techniques used by their sources and those working in better-funded disciplines. We want to build the infrastructure that will empower journalists — no matter where they are, what they cover or what job title they carry — by reducing the cost and difficulty of finding, understanding and documenting stories of public interest.” Source: Reporters’ Lab

Block by Block

February 24, 2012 in Community, Experiments, Resources

Block by Block is a network for online pioneers who are creating sustainable models to provide community, neighborhood and local niche news.

With support from The Patterson Foundation, Block by Block is working with publishers and editors of independent local start ups, both for-profit and nonprofit. We want to help them share what they are learning and what they are struggling with, and to provide resources such as community management, training, mentoring and networking.” Source: Block by Block

Knight Report: Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age

October 25, 2011 in Community, Distribution, Policy, Resources

In April 2008, recognizing that technology is changing attitudes toward information in fundamental ways, Knight Foundation and the Aspen Institute formed the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. The purpose of the Commission was to examine the information needs of American communities in the digital age and to suggest recommendations to strengthen the free flow of information.

This report summarizes the findings and recommendations of the Knight Commission. Through public outreach, the commission garnered input from over 1,100 people online. In addition, experts and community members shared insights at public forums, where the commission pondered questions such as:

  • What are the information needs of a community in a democracy?
  • How is technology affecting the information needs of democracy in the United States?
  • What public policy directions would help lead us from where we are today to where we ought to be? Report Partner: This report was produced by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.

Report Contents

Knight Commission’s articulation of community information needs and the critical steps necessary to meet them requires pursuing three fundamental objectives:

  • Maximizing the Availability of Relevant and Credible Information to Communities: People need relevant and credible information to be free and self-governing.
  • Enhancing the Capacity of Individuals to Engage with Information: People need tools, skills and understanding to use information effectively.
  • Promoting Public Engagement: To pursue their true interests, people need to be engaged with information and with each other. The commission’s conclusions and recommendations follow each objective. Source: Knight Foundation

 

Pew Report: How News Happens

October 24, 2011 in Community, Distribution, Resources, Revenue

Who really reports the news that most people get about their communities? What role do new media, blogs and specialty news sites now play?

How, in other words, does the modern news “ecosystem” of a large American city work? And if newspapers were to die—to the extent that we can infer from the current landscape—what would that imply for what citizens would know and not know about where they live?

The questions are becoming increasingly urgent. As the economic model that has subsidized professional journalism collapses, the number of people gathering news in traditional television, print and radio organizations is shrinking markedly. What, if anything, is taking up that slack?

The answers are a moving target; even trying to figure out how to answer them is a challenge. But a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which takes a close look at the news ecosystem of one city suggests that while the news landscape has rapidly expanded, most of what the public learns is still overwhelmingly driven by traditional media—particularly newspapers.

The study, which examined all the outlets that produced local news in Baltimore, Md., for one week, surveyed their output and then did a closer examination of six major narratives during the week, finds that much of the “news” people receive contains no original reporting. Fully eight out of ten stories studied simply repeated or repackaged previously published information.” Source: Journalism.org

Pew Report: Non-Profit News: Assessing a New Landscape in Journalism

August 10, 2011 in Craft, Distribution, Resources, Revenue

A new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism offers a detailed look at a portion of this new cohort of news providers-sites that cover state and national news. The study examines some four dozen sites across the country, all of them launched in 2005 or later, that offer coverage beyond the local level to state and national news. That group includes national news sites such as Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica, which receives money from more than a dozen foundations and has a staff of more than 30.[1]

It also includes lesser-known news sites such as Missouri News Horizon, whose funding is less clear and covers Missouri state government with a staff of three journalists. The study analyzes the funding, transparency and organizational structure of these sites, and also the nature of their news coverage. [2]Source: Journalism.org