What is the Journalism Accelerator?

The Journalism Accelerator is an online information exchange connecting publishers across news and information networks. This is a place for conversation, a resource hub and a community of diverse knowledge. The JA exposes new possibilities for financial sustainability in journalism, showcases promising experiments and provides practical information to help publishers work smarter. Through intentional, moderated conversations and crowdsourced resource listings, the JA connects people, ideas and experience across networks and expertise.

What is this?

A forum about innovation in journalism, the Journalism Accelerator (JA) is a curated communication platform combining technology, people, process and ongoing evaluation. The JA exists to support a vibrant, open, accessible news and information ecosystem, closing the gap between siloed conversations.

Through a common virtual space, the Journalism Accelerator holds promise to transform fragmented information into a crowdsourced, shared, actionable knowledge base. This community resource is designed to serve as a network throughway, upping the “findability” factor. With time, adoption and scale, the Journalism Accelerator is built to perform like a rapid response system, dedicated to the breaking news within news.

The Journalism Accelerator does not replace or attempt to replicate the good work of others, but to accelerate these good works by offering more exposure to a broader audience, across areas of expertise. Beyond the usual suspects, the JA forum invites a range of industry experts into the conversation. Journalism Accelerator aggregates and curates knowledge, tactics, questions, resources, reviews, ideas, cautions, use case and community.

The concept for the Journalism Accelerator has been in development since 2008. Successful organizing models of civic engagement and grassroots community building seeded the idea of JA. The initial vision was a kind of virtual news and information swap meet, providing a space for connecting expertise across networks.

We’ve taken the pledge! “By displaying this seal, we hereby agree to be Transparent, Accountable and Open.”

The objective? To create an innovation-exchange model that is fueled by the pulse of the community it serves. To deliver on this promise, the JA forum belongs to its community, not to any institution, foundation or any particular partisan viewpoint.

Journalism Accelerator has taken the pledge! The JA has taken the TAO of Journalism pledge, and supports an open, transparent, diverse and vibrant press.

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How is the JA different from the loads of forums out there?

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein.

The goal is to increase efficiency by collecting, posting and introducing information across networks. The Journalism Accelerator is a forum with a pulse, a place where individuals working across the journalism spectrum have a simple way to connect directly, seek expertise or share it across channels.

The team at Journalism Accelerator thinks the best technology is the kind you don’t see. The goal is to deliver the kind of technology that’s simple, works and doesn’t get in the way of what needs to get done. The Journalism Accelerator is designed as a WordPress project, with a simple information framework that focuses on community as its most essential ingredient.

Behind the Journalism Accelerator are real people here to help community members:

  • More efficiently find resources;
  • Learn about techniques others are using and to what effect;
  • Offer ideas and resources for others to work smarter;
  • Be introduced to new people, ideas or ways of solving problems;
  • Avoid going down a path others have tried that may not have worked well, or discuss variations that may yield a different outcome;
  • Gain deeper insight on business, legal, distribution or social media strategies from experts in those industries;
  • Find others to collaborate with, learn from, gain new skills or share wisdom;
  • Reach out to new audiences, discover new ways of creating revenue, experiment;
  • Compare and contrast; how are different regions meeting the information needs of their communities?

As questions are shared, and resources surface, the Journalism Accelerator is set up to serve as a resource repository where the exchange of information across the community accrues over time. This information is curated by the JA team, drawn from the conversations shared and the resources, research and techniques harvested for others to gain the benefit from their peers’ travels.

  • JA’s team seeds and hosts conversations across networks, organizing and associating connections to accelerate innovation across regions and communities;
  • JA’s team serves as the community host, matchmaking questions with the folks who have unique expertise, to help inform the case;
  • JA’s cross network platform transforms disconnected data into shared knowledge, reporting on new models of excellence surfacing in the market;
  • JA lets the data speak, tracking patterns across conversations and sharing what we learn from community interaction as part of the content stream.

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What is the JA experiment?

Since early 2010, the JA forum has been in gestation, informed by research, interviews, focus groups and forums. Over the past year we have listened closely. We hear and see practitioners and innovators scrambling to source, find and exchange information. There is a consensus across networks that folks want to connect with one another to share what is and isn’t working, who’s doing what, and the kinds of resources that others are using and to what effect.

JA Accelerant. The Journalism Accelerator’s development has been accelerated by early investment from The Patterson Foundation (TPF). A partnership with TPF has been in place since May of 2010. Additional accelerant has been provided by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, where as a Fellow’s project over 2010-2011, the Journalism Accelerator was scrubbed, challenged, vetted, reworked and taken on a requirements-gathering road show. The Osder Group challenged our assumptions and contributed smart thinking–and fierceness–to our road map.

The Journalism Accelerator launched in early 2011. The early phase of our work focused on the Journalism That Matters Pacific Northwest (JTMPNW) Seattle Journalism Commons network. This project is spearheaded by Mike Fancher, Peggy Holman and others working in the Seattle Journalism Commons community, in collaboration with the larger media ecosystem across the Northwest and other regions.

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What’s with the name?

Things happen faster when you can find what you’re looking for. Inspired by the principles of the Hadron Collider, we think of the Journalism Accelerator as a particle accelerator. The Journalism Accelerator hopes to offer a virtual space for “news and information particles” to collide, split, attract or multiply. What can we learn from the hundreds of experiments happening concurrently across the news and information landscape if we create a throughway for the particles to congregate and collide constructively?

The past few years have yielded the greatest market disruption in the history of the news industry. With the particles in the new media news ecology moving at the speed of cyber optics, the collision of a traditional press with the digital immediacy that reporting has gained through advances in technology has expanded and redefined the role and function of news in society.

The information-exchange model of Journalism Accelerator operates with the assumption that a broader community of expertise, with greater ability for alike or different particles to find one another, helps inform and expand the understanding of a quickly evolving news marketplace. By bringing a rich diversity of skills and knowledge together, local, regional or national news and information producers are able to more efficiently source, find, solve and share essential information.

One of the Journalism Accelerator’s operating assumptions is that there is value in the exchange of knowledge and experience between journalists, advocates and professional service providers with direct experience in service-delivery and organizing models that clearly impact “public good” focused campaigns.

Providing a curated, hosted environment for collisions of expertise, experience and knowledge excites us about what is possible. The Journalism Accelerator is a space for observing the particles, collecting artifacts and connecting emerging patterns across networks to accelerate learning, inform ongoing experiments and inspire new ways of thinking.

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Who is the JA forum for?

Society’s need for signal in the sea of noise has never been more critical, with the Web serving up billions of bits of content daily. In this time of great change in the field of news, traditional journalists, new media reporters, advocates creating content on the public’s behalf, public media advocates, policy analysts, educators, students, and community and citizen bloggers all find themselves, more often than not, working outside of a traditional newsroom.

The information-exchange model of the Journalism Accelerator is fueled by individuals with experience in news and community reporting, technology in application, policy, education, civic engagement, business, legal, social media and non-profit grassroots organizing. As the community develops, members and forum participants get a direct pipeline to numerous, unique streams of knowledge across the many evolving forms of journalism and supporting areas of expertise.

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What is the JA culture?

The Journalism Accelerator forum hosts an open exchange between news practitioners, folks supporting the new media news ecology and others with information and knowledge to share. We welcome all forms of diversity including ethnicity, lifestyle, perspective and approach.

By exploring the pressing needs of news innovators across local communities, this project hopes to provide a composite view of journalism experiments in the field. The Journalism Accelerator builds upon expertise and knowledge and promotes existing research, featuring contributors and their organizations. In addition, the JA blog will report out on experiments conducted within the site, including tactics tested to achieve sustainability as a community resource that can be taken to scale.

This project is a step toward creating a shared, free and accessible knowledge base. We welcome you to join our community.

Our online culture is expressed through:

  • Open conversations, respectfully conducted;
  • Willingness to listen to different points of view;
  • Curiosity to explore journalism’s many forms, created in many ways and by many sources, both traditional and entrepreneurial;
  • Community: the conversation is guided by the communities the JA serves;
  • Transparency: profiles reflect the unique expertise of the voices in JA’s mix;
  • Collaboration: help others that have helped you;
  • Sourcing & Attribution: giving credit where credit is due;
  • Shared Stake: the JA community tackles pressing issues together to advance the field collectively.

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