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JA Overview: Free Press Media Reform Denver conference

April 2, 2013 in Blog, Policy

Lisa and Nicole

JA’s Lisa Skube (left) and Nicole Staudinger at 2012 SXSW braving torrential rain. We’ll be taking two umbrellas to Denver. Credit: Lisa Skube

Journalism Accelerator

This week, the JA heads to the Media Reform Conference in Denver, brought to us by the good folks at Free Press. The JA gets to be one of the hundreds of participants joining with “Award-winning artists. Hollywood luminaries. Visionary activists. Veteran journalists. [and] D.C. heavyweights.” In addition to the Free Press Media Reform Conference that runs April 4th – 7th in Denver, Journalism that Matters will host “Journalism is Dead; Long Live Journalism” to discuss and consider fresh possibilities for the Front Range news ecosystem. Here’s a useful post from Patrick Kitano featured on Street Fight today focusing on the JTM Denver conference in which he outlines what he hopes to learn while there.

This post is a quick overview of some of the things JA is stoked to do while in Denver at the Free Press event, luminaries we hope to meet, and things we can’t wait to learn more about! We welcome your comments on what you hope to take away, or bring, to the upcoming gathering of great minds and disruptive discussion. Read the rest of this entry →

JA publisher profile with ProPublica’s Stephen Engelberg: “This may shake out to be a Golden Age of investigative reporting.”

August 10, 2012 in Blog, Community, Craft, Distribution, Education, Experiments, Policy, Revenue, Technology

Stephen Engelberg

ProPublica managing editor Stephen Engelberg at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center. Image: Lisa Skube.

Journalism Accelerator

Raising money, gaining audience, having impact. Despite a ten million dollar annual budget, 34 reporters and partnerships with multiple major news organizations, ProPublica faces similar sustainability issues as many startup publishers. ProPublica’s managing editor (set to become editor-in-chief early next year) Stephen Engelberg spoke with a couple dozen journalists at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center in Portland this week. Here are his views on some of the major challenges investigative, nonprofit news organizations face today.

Stephen Engelberg had never done any fundraising before becoming second-in-command at ProPublica, the high-profile, nonprofit, investigative news organization set up in 2007. He didn’t have to right away; for the first three years ProPublica received ten million dollars a year from a foundation set up by Herb and Marion Sandler with their earnings from the savings and loan industry. ProPublica’s budget has remained the same, but the Sandler Foundation share fell to half last year. As Engelberg prepares to lead the first online-only news organization to win a Pulitzer Prize, money, branding, the expectations of donors and making an impact are on his mind. Read the rest of this entry →

JA reports: The Value of Local TV News forum goals and performance

November 22, 2011 in Blog, Community, Craft, Experiments, Policy

Journalism Accelerator

A central part of the JA’s mission is to gather voices together online around common questions news producers share. Community needs and JA program values guide our work hosting forums. These values include a high degree of transparency and accountability to you and the growing JA community, because we believe it’s valuable to share what we are learning. We do this by pointing to ideas, trends and emerging patterns, tools and lessons that you as publishers may find useful, or techniques and innovations you share with us.

Here we offer an analysis of our recent forum on the value of local TV news. This first piece covers the “why” behind this particular forum, plus an overview of performance. The next report offers the “how” – our methodology to deliver online engagement. The last post explores a set of tangible artifacts we’ve distilled from the conversation, and touches on what’s next.

As the first large scale JA forum, this was an exciting experiment in many ways. 140 comments later, what are the practical and anecdotal takeaways? We share the context and results of our approach, our goals and our model for online engagement in the hope it may be useful to you. Read the rest of this entry →

The Seattle Interactive Conference: Jacob Caggiano’s big questions

November 8, 2011 in Blog, Community, Policy, Revenue, Technology

In my first post on the Seattle Interactive Conference, I went over some locally developed tools designed to make information more relevant and insightful. Mobile apps like Trover, which allows geo-discovery through photos, and Evri, which organizes ~15,000 news feeds into a friendly iPad interface, are useful on an individual level. But my concern is:

How can they scale to community heights when it comes to breaking, spreading, and contextualizing important public information?

Scale to community heights

Technology scales best when community needs come first. Photo by Lisa Skube.

This is not an easy question. To help answer it, I needed to figure out how the mobile sausage is made. So at SIC, I tracked down John SanGiovanni, co-founder of and product design VP for the Zumobi mobile network. It would be wrong to call Zumobi an “ad network,” because while they do serve ads to mobile devices, they also design and build the apps on which the ads run. Right now its “co-publishing network” is being used by some of the biggest heavy hitters in the content world, with clients that range from MSNBC and The Week magazine, to Popular Science, Good Housekeeping, Parenting Magazine, and Motor Trend.

The good news is that SanGiovanni happily reported financial success on the journalism side of their business. He said their MSNBC app is “a whale” (very profitable) and both the advertisers and the publisher (MSNBC) are happy with the model they’ve set up. It’d be hard not to be, because Zumobi designs and builds the app absolutely free of charge to publishers whom they choose to work with. The company also helps with some of the ad sales, but as a co-publishing network, they expect the publisher to already have a drawer full of dedicated advertisers.

The not-so-good news is that Zumobi only works with top tier clients and doesn’t have plans to scale down their model to independent and hyperlocal publishers. SanGiovanni assured me he’s a big fan of Maple Leaf Life and cares about supporting grassroots journalism, but it’s just not in the cards for Zumobi right now. The company prefers to swim with bigger fish. Read the rest of this entry →

Tonight at 5 … passion

October 21, 2011 in Blog, Policy, Revenue

Local news broadcast from Portland, Oregon

Local news broadcast from Portland, Oregon. Photo by Lisa Skube.

Next week in our forum we’re asking you: What is the value of local TV news? How can communities up their yield and maximize return from this powerful and well branded medium? What are the risks of major changes like station consolidation or pay-for-play ads? What innovations in local television news hold the most promise?

Two weeks in as editorial director with the JA and I know a heck of a lot more about local TV news than I ever did before. (Even though I started in VERY local TV – the school district news channel when I was in high school.)

Of course, if you’ve spent any time in a newsroom, you’ve probably spent time near a bank of TV news stations blaring. But in this era of mobile, social and on-demand news, I didn’t realize that around three-quarters of Americans still rely on the TV to find out what’s going on in their home towns and communities. I also didn’t realize how deep passion runs to make the most of this resource.

A sneak peek of our forum on the value of local TV news:

  • From Mark Platte, news director of Hawaii News Now, which runs news programs on three TV stations and a joint website: “We spend a lot of time on weather, we have excellent weather and excellent traffic. But I think you can’t beat the immediacy. The immediacy of news, the live aspect of news, being on the scene, being able to live stream, we’re doing so much more on the web, with video and raw video, that people like. I think that’s the beauty of TV news.”
  • From Libby Reinish with Free Press’s Change the Channels campaign against station consolidation: “No one would stand up and say this [local TV news] is great. But I think it’s too quick to call it a lost cause. I think it’s really important to keep in mind that broadcasters have made a bargain with public – and it’s really important to envision what it could look like, and what value it could provide to community.”
  • From the FCC’s recent report on the information needs of communities: “Far from being nearly-extinct dinosaurs, the traditional media players—TV stations and newspapers—have emerged as the largest providers of local news online.”
  • From Hofstra University’s Bob Papper and his latest survey of the broadcast landscape for RTDNA: “It’s not simply that television and radio stations are doing more with social media these days, it’s also that—at least in the case of TV—they’re doing something different.” Read the rest of this entry →

An interview with Mike Fancher, author of “Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World”

September 13, 2011 in Blog, Craft, Policy, Revenue

Across the field of journalism we’ve had an “information infusion” from a broad range of sources over the summer. Analysis, review and reporting from the likes of PEW, Knight, the Economist, Clay Shirky, the FCC’s recent 450+ page report furthering the analysis Knight Foundation started two years ago, and CJR’s recent write up “What We Know so Far.” The Chicago Community Trust has released a mother lode of data revealing new insights on the power of linking. The list outlined above is far from exhaustive but a good representation of the depth, breadth and focus on the unfolding of a “news industry interrupted” by some of the brightest minds today.

There is a general consensus that we’re bearing witness to a long-standing community of practice “reimagining” itself, a phrase Mike Fancher refers to in his new report, Local News for a Networked World. Posted  in July, this paper was co-commissioned by the Aspen Institute and the Knight Foundation. As a veteran newsman and community advocate, Fancher brings a unique perspective to this work with a long run as executive editor of one of the finest city paper newsrooms in the nation, The Seattle Times. Noting his career as an editor unfolded in a far less turbulent time in the business lifecycle of news and reporting Fancher retired from the Times in 2008.

The combination of professional experiences Fancher has accrued over the course of his career has expanded further since his retirement. In 2008-2009 he served as a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri focusing his study there on journalism ethics evolution in the digital age. Prior to returning to the academy as a fellow, while serving as a city paper editor, Fancher completed his master’s degree in business to better understand news, journalism and the marketplace it lives within, in context. Read the rest of this entry →