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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


Exploring a Networked Journalism Collaborative in Philadelphia

October 24, 2011 in Community, Distribution, Resources

J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism just released a report analyzing the media landscape in Philadelphia. The William Penn Foundation commissioned J-Lab to conduct the study of Philadelphia’s media landscape and the state of public affairs reporting and make recommendations for a possible media investment strategy. It is well worth a read.

Some of the key findings:

  • The available news about Philadelphia public affairs issues has dramatically diminished over the last three years by many measures: news hole, air time, story count, key word measurements.
  • People in Philadelphia want more public affairs news than they are now able to get.
  • They don’t think their daily newspapers are as good as the newspapers used to be.
  • They want news that is more connected to their city.
  • People from both the Old Philadelphia, anchored by the city’s union and blue-collar workers, and the New Philadelphia, representing tech-savvy, up-and-coming neighborhoods, want to be involved in helping to generate that news.
  • The city is awash in media and technological assets that can pioneer a new Golden Era of Journalism.
  • There is strong, but guarded, interest in exploring a collaborative journalism venture.
  • A significant number of Philadelphia’s new media outlets have expressed interest in pursuing a collaborative media initiative.
  • Any collaborative news effort must validate and support the fiercely independent mindsets of the city’s new media makers.

The entire report is available here.” Source: Citizen Media Law Project


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:

Local TV News in the Los Angeles Media Market: Are Stations Serving the Public Interest?

October 21, 2011 in Community, Distribution, Innovation, Resources, Revenue

L.A.’s television stations deliver on average about 22 seconds of local government coverage, according to a new study by the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

The study found that only half of a half-hour news show was devoted to news. Of that, local news received 50 seconds more coverage than non-local news. Sports and weather — not considered to be news in the study — received about half the time of non-local news. Teasers and advertisements account for more than a third of each half-hour news show.

“Reports like this are a summon to action,” FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said. “We better pay more attention to what is happening to traditional journalism and find out how to fix it because this is where most of the news originates.”

The findings are the first in an ongoing study of all L.A. television news broadcasts, which is the country’s second largest media market. Researchers analyzed more than 11,250 news stories broadcast on KABC, KCAL, KCBS, KNBC, KTLA, KTTV, KCOP and Spanish-language station KMEX during 14 randomly selected days in August and September of last year.

Of all news coverage, crime took the largest chunk of time — 2:50. Shows also lead off with crime one out of every three times. About 20 seconds less was taken up by soft news, oddball news, human interest stories, contests, makeovers, world record attempts, fashion, travel, cooking, animals going wild and weddings. Entertainment coverage unrelated to business aspects received another two minutes.” Source: Neon Tommy

The Fresh Outlook’s News Network

October 19, 2011 in Community, Experiments, Resources, Revenue

“The Fresh Outlook is independent of politicial, religious or financial ties. The newspaper is owned by a regulated not-for-profit organisation, FreshTies, based in the United Kingdom, and which works for people’s rights, needs and opportunities.

The Fresh Outlook is young in many ways. The newspaper was recently set up, and our newsroom journalists, including the editors, are young professionals. We’ve all come together, and people keep joining with us, through a shared belief in the need for an independent and responsible worldwide media.

Also, in line with the work of its parent not-for-profit organisation, The Fresh Outlook is here to ensure consistent coverage of human rights and challenge injustice, which you can all play a part in.

The independence to inform.

There’s nothing preachy here. The Fresh Outlook and the News Network is the result of believing in traditional skills and values of journalism to reflect the world and its people- as it is. Our independence, and a ‘fresh outlook’ means opportunities for up and coming journalists to grow and be part of a worldwide media to:

  • Get published, get a break and help them into careers.
  • Break news that is worthy of headlines.
  • Broaden the news agenda.
  • Ensure consistent coverage of human rights.
  • Challenge injustice through investigative journalism.
  • Increase the diversity of journalists to better reflect our world.
  • Ensure more accurate portrayal of people and cultures. SourceThe Fresh Outlook


October 18, 2011 in Community, Experiments, Resources, Revenue

Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.

A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.

All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.

Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse.” SourceKickstarter

National Freedom of Information Coalition

October 12, 2011 in Community, Craft, Policy, Resources

The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) is a nonpartisan network of state and regional open government groups and advocates headquartered at the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri. The organization’s ongoing work is supported, primarily, by a $2 million, three-year grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. NFOIC’s core work and mission includes public education and advocacy to foster government transparency, especially at the state and local levels. Key components of that work are grant making, convening and other services that help to strengthen and support affiliated state and regional groups. Another signature initiative, since the beginning of its current sustaining grant, is the administration of a legal fund to fuel and assist the pursuit of important FOI and access cases.

The NFOIC serves as the cornerstone of the movement to protect the public’s “right to know” through access to governmental records and meetings, particularly at the state and local levels. It also seeks to be an effective voice and champion for greater government transparency at all levels by educating about and defending against constant legislative and judicial threats that would erode hard-won rights of access and allow more governmental secrecy.” Source: Ken Bunting, Executive Director, NFOIC


Community engagement: A practical conversation guide for newsrooms

October 7, 2011 in Community, Craft, Resources, Revenue

There is a general understanding among journalists these days that flourishing in today’s media landscape involves more interaction with and responsiveness to our communities. Community engagement is often cited in future-of-news conversations as a key to continued success. Nine out of 10 editors in a Spring 2011 Reynolds Journalism Institute survey said they were talking in their newsrooms about how to make the news more social and participatory. The survey reinforced, however, that editors aren’t sure what exactly that means or how to go about it.

This discussion guide is an attempt to help get folks started.

As part of my 2010-2011 RJI Fellowship (“Ditch the Lecture. Join the Conversation.”), I spent several months interviewing journalists about their changing relationships with their communities. I focused on their attitudes and actions toward their intended news consumers. Along the way, I took notes about the questions these journalists seemed to be pondering, and of the tips and strategies they shared with me. I grouped those strategies into three categories of engagement: outreach, conversation and collaboration.

You’ll find many of their ideas on the following pages, and I’m indebted to everyone who shared their time and expertise with me.” SourceReynolds Journalism Institute

The Media Consortium

October 6, 2011 in Community, Craft, Resources

The Media Consortium is a network of the country’s leading independent journalism organizations. We support smart, powerful and passionate journalism that redefines American political and cultural debate. The Media Consortium is creating a solid cooperative infrastructure that will serve a 21st-century audience and offer a sustainable future for independent media. Millions of Americans are looking for honest, fair, and accurate journalism-We’re finding new ways to reach them. Our strategy has three focal points: Making Connections, Building Infrastructure, and Amplifying Our Voice.

Making Connections
Through meetings and collaboratively built projects, The Media Consortium enables our members to build relationships, strategize, and constructively work together to reinvent the independent media sphere.

Building Infrastructure
We’re analyzing who reads, watches and listens to our members’ work so that we can reach millions more Americans looking for honest journalism. We’re making joint investments in training, technology-sharing, advertising, promotions and learning how to communicate effectively with one another.

Amplifying Our Voice
It’s time to do together what we can not do alone. The Media Consortium seeks to fulfill the role of media in a democracy. We’re strengthening a vibrant, fact-based community of independent journalism producers that educate, inform and engage citizens to create the world to which we all aspire.” SourceThe Media Consortium

The Future of Journalism Education

October 5, 2011 in Community, Education, Resources

If February’s weather kept you away from New York and the Future of Journalism Education conference at the Paley Center for Media, you weren’t alone. But you can still visit the center’s website to see some seven hours of streaming video about the needs of 21st century journalists, including  entrepreneurial ideas, new relationships with their audiences, new online tools — and, in the words of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative, “an in-depth understanding of the context and complexity of issues facing the modern world”…

Deans, faculty and students from 14 graduate schools of journalism participated in the Carnegie-funded event which, whether it solved anything or not, certainly featured well-informed and thought-provoking discussions…

From a newspaper perspective, panelists included executives and journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The St. Petersburg Times, the Associated Press  and The Guardian, whose New York bureau chief described a contemporary reporting position — his own — in which he can write a 2,000-word analysis in the morning and “tweet” his way through an afternoon typing 140-character online Twitter updates from another news event.

The Future of Journalism Education event (well-Tweeted itself by @paleycenter and others as #paleynews), included an hour-long discussion by Alberto Ibargüen and Vartan Gregorian of the Knight and Carnegie foundations, respectively, and a roundtable on the Carnegie-Knight Initiative‘s News 21 journalism education project.” SourceNewspaper and Online News