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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.

Local news publishing: What’s needed to earn revenue?

Journalism Accelerator

A local publishing company

Photo by clemsonunivlibrar on Flickr

Plenty of experience at play in today’s forum on increasing revenue for local news sites. The thread is still open and well worth a read. Here are some highlights:

Of all the themes running through today’s conversation, I pick the word of the day as NEED. Start with this point from Dan Grech, news director of WLRN in Miami, on creating “indispensable” content:

“..indispensable content means providing information and perspectives that address the particular urgent needs of a niche audience.”

Then hear Emily Lowrey, founder of Magic City Post.

“I think if you go at it at that angle of just getting financial support for your journalism, that you’ll struggle. If you find a problem to solve though, you’ll get the support you need and flourish.” (more…)

Niche Perspective: Publisher forum February 29th examines revenue, collaboration and syndication

Journalism Accelerator

On Wednesday, February 29th, Day Two of the JA forum on sustainable journalism highlights the practice of niche publishing, one name for specializing in a particular subject matter or a certain type of reporting. Their experiences reflect many common issues local publishers know well.

This is a forum for publishers, businesspeople, and others interested in increasing the revenue of digital news sites. It’s a moderated online conversation, designed as “call and response” – we’ll hear two publishers’ stories, add reflections from a couple of business experts, and invite you to jump in.  (more…)

Local Perspective: Publisher forum February 28th explores news, revenue and place

Journalism Accelerator

On Tuesday, February 28th, Day One of the JA forum on sustainable journalism kicks off with the stories of two local news sites. The publishers have experienced different successes and challenges, but share at least one goal: build a product that serves the community and pays for itself.

We’re bringing together a balance of publishers and business experts to trade information and knowledge about increasing the revenue of digital news sites. The forum is an online conversation designed as “call and response” – we’ll hear stories of a few publishers then invite other people with relevant experience to share insights, offer suggestions and challenge assumptions.  (more…)

Publisher point-of-view: What’s your revenue story?

Journalism Accelerator

We kicked off this year talking with a group of people with different experiences in news and publishing about what they anticipate in 2012. Since then, we’ve been asking more publishers, business pros and startups about their expectations and hopes for the year.

The JA online forum coming February 28th and 29th is designed for local news publishers and businesspeople to share their experiences and experiments creating revenue.

Cash Machine -- Upcoming Business Forum

Money and publishing: What different keys are you pressing to bring in revenue? Photo by Sean McMenemy on Flickr.

Some publishers – both new and legacy – have established multiple revenue streams and are now working to amp up the return. Some are successful in one revenue area but finding others – ads, events, community donations or something else – tough nuts to crack. Some are considering, or have taken, a hiatus as they evaluate how they might publish content to serve their targeted market AND thrive financially.

The forum February 28th and 29th features publishers with different experiences and intentions, but common business interests. More publishers, businesspeople, social media specialists and others with relevant tips or ideas are invited to share their perspective, offer and vet questions. On forum days, the real time conversation takes place over a 90 minute window. You can stop by to read the comment thread or add to the discussion anytime. It’s a chance to broaden your network, spark connections and trade ideas. (more…)

2012: The year of the prosperous publisher

Journalism Accelerator

Year of the sustainable publisher dragon

...the Year of the Dragon is one of high risks and high returns — a year during which the financial crisis will finally see some light... (self-proclaimed Chinese astrologer Joseph) Chung explains that this is a “Water Dragon Year,” which means a higher flow of communication between people.
(Image by Jim Nix of Nomadic Pursuits on Flickr.)

2012 is the Year of the Dragon, if you go by the Chinese calendar. What will define this year for news publishers? In January we pointed you to some thoughtful – and entertaining – predictions for 2012. But prognostications can only take us so far. Hearing directly from publishing pioneers which trails need blazing, and which may be better off less traveled, is where our work begins this year. To fine tune the JA focus for 2012 we spent January identifying how to support the most critical needs publishers face now, in a way unique to the JA service model.

To do this, we turned to a group of talented people with a wide range of experience in news and information. All of them are familiar with the JA’s conversation and information exchange products, having joined our early pilot project, participated in a more recent forum or generously granted us an informational interview (or two) over the past year.

This time, we asked them to identify what they see as the most urgent challenges in publishing right now, and the greatest opportunities to support publishers’ work. Suggestions and ideas the group raised will guide our priorities for 2012, with fresh insight to help shape our upcoming forum on business models for publishers. That kicks off later this month on February 28 and 29. Many thanks to The Seattle Times’ David Boardman, Anne Galloway, editor of, CEO of the Investigative News Network Kevin Davis, BXB founder Michele McLellan, policy expert Steve Waldman, business coach Joe Michaud, and RJI Fellow/ The Patterson Foundation’s New Media Initiative Manager Janet Coats. (more…)

New JA Feature: Tweets for Keeps

Journalism Accelerator

Tweets for Keeps is a new resource to help publishers keep even better pace in 2012 with the changes sweeping journalism. By one estimate, last October people tweeted on average 250 million times a day. How many brilliant ideas, helpful resources, and interesting articles crossed your screen when you couldn’t look? Could you find them later? Perhaps you wanted to look at them again, only to find they’d disappeared after a week’s time.

Tweets for Keeps is our way of increasing the shelf life of tweets that rise to the top of our list week to week, creating a resource for you to turn the power of Twitter into a power tool for your work. Tweets for Keeps lets you come back and see what surfaced each week, when it’s convenient for you.

Part of harnessing the potential of new tools is understanding their language. Fluency frees publishers to use tools like Twitter for maximum yield. Many people know a lot of the Twitter code explained below, but many don’t, and all the symbols and shortcuts can be very alienating! As newspapers fade as the prime distribution model for news, Twitter has quickly taken its place at the table as incredible new form to both post your content around breaking news and to learn how to sharpen your competitive edge. Understanding well how any new tool works empowers you to chose which mix of social tools will best help you up your game. (more…)

JA Reports: 67 tips, tools and ideas for 2012 election coverage from our recent forum

Journalism Accelerator

The December conversation on kickstarting 2012 election coverage was rich with models to mimic, tools to try, ideas to explore and much more for any publisher striving to serve fresh and meaningful election coverage. We have pulled more than five dozen useful tidbits from that forum, organized around three major themes: editorial, collaboration, and moneymaking.

Click on the “in forum” link to see the resource listed in context of the larger conversation – layered in dozens of illuminating exchanges. To go deeper – reach out and connect with the community members who shared their knowledge.

As you check out this list, comment below to share with others what has worked for you or how you anticipate reporting election coverage this coming year.

As always, the JA welcomes ideas for resources to share. We’d love to hear your top picks, based on your experience, from this collection the community has offered for others to consider. And your ideas for other things you think should be added to this list.


Forum Day 1 Editorial

Emily starts off day one of the forum with a conversation around Editorial. Photo by Lisa Skube.

Stories, engagement and money: Practical tips from the JA election 2012 forum

Election 2012 Forum Screenshot

Day one of the forum focused around the editorial opportunities the 2012 election coverage presents. As we crested 100 comments, our hunch on the community’s desire for a shared conversation around the topic was confirmed. By day three, the conversation rested at about 233 comments. The forum will remain open as new ideas, questions or expansions on the ideas presented continue to evolve.

We went into last week’s forum suspecting the 2012 election offers fresh opportunities for local news sites to shine. Based on the ideas and on-the-ground experiences participants shared, we came out convinced.

Evelyn Larrubia, editorial director of the Investigative News Network, wrote this in the forum:

…newspapers across the country are not doing as thorough a job covering small-town elections as they once did…And yet, people want guidance when they step into the polling booth and face a choice for who they want running their town–or their kid’s school. I think there’s a real opportunity there for hyperlocal news outlets to inform the public.”

Dick O’Hare, founder and CEO of Local Yokel Media, kicked off his comments with this:

The 2012 elections represent a great advertising opportunity for hyperlocals. By definition, hyperlocals are creating content literally down to the precinct level, which is an attractive targeting opportunity...”

So how do you explore the opportunity? Here are just a few ideas from the high-octane conversation:

Set up a table at polling stations to show off your work, taking a page from the outreach strategy of Charolettesville Tomorrow. Or hold a “News and Brews” post-election debrief with reporters, campaign staff, and readers. Lokel Yokel Media suggests joining with other hyperlocals to attract political advertisers interested in a broad reach. Do what Jay Rosen and The Guardian are doing – on your own scale. (more…)

JA forum day 3: Iteration, refinements, get the RSS feed

JA Team collaborating on day 2 of the Election 2012 Forum

Day two of the forum kicks off; Lisa and Nicole collaborate on the opening kick off banner. Photo by Denise Cheng.

This is a quick post for the community, reporting out real time on what’s been developing in the forum over the past couple of days. We convened the conversation in slices: Day one the forum explored editorial strategy and tactics, yesterday we dove into collaboration, today the final segment of this conversation addresses money. The content stream contributors are generously offering insights, curiosity, tools, experience, suggestions, hopes, and frustrations around the question in play.  And behind the scenes, crucially, we’re tracking how this is all unfolding. As we take WordPress to new levels, we’re pushing the limits and testing the possibilities. We are grateful for those of you who have offered specific feedback!

Thursday had a few challenges. First, posting was running slowly! In part that is because the thread is so long. We’re not breaking the thread because we don’t want to lose context, as well the pagination can wreak havoc in other areas (time stamps, placement in the thread, etc.) on the site.

We can and are doing a few things to improve the flow today and in the future. Our dev team reported page load times, with a few adjustments on the back end, should be in the 4 – 6 second range. Not as quick as we’d like, but we’re keeping a close eye on this today. We’ll be making a number of adjustments before the next forum slated for late January. For examplemoving forward we will start each new day with a fresh forum page. All forum pages can easily be cross linked but the length of the thread on our current live forum, we know makes quick scanning pretty hard. Check out the RSS feed accessible from the forum home page if this makes it simpler for you, or join in as we are scanning the page by watching “Talking about this post” on the right sidebar of the forum, as well as the “who else is talking” link at the bottom of this widget which opens the participant page. This shows everyone who is in the conversation that has joined in the forum over the last few days. (more…)

JA reports: TV forum results and what’s next

Journalism Accelerator

There is conversation for conversation’s sake, and there is conversation with purpose. JA forums are designed to be relevant, interesting, informative, and useful. In this final of three posts analyzing our recent forum on the Value of Local TV News, we explore a set of tangible artifacts we’ve distilled from the conversation, and envision how the community might act on those takeaways.

As the first large scale JA forum, the conversation was an exciting experiment in many ways. The first reporting back post covers the “why” behind this particular forum, plus an overview of performance. The second offers the “how” – our methodology to deliver online engagement.

We welcome your comments on all aspects of our analysis as we continue to learn. (more…)

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