Innovation in journalism: A startup in your future?

Today we’re looking at emerging business models for news. As David Cohn pointed out that other day, much to the chagrin of the curmudgeons (more on that class of journos here, here and here), we should all feel a little more bullish about the future of journalism. Not to sound too Obama-esque here, but the hope lies within us to effect real change in the industry’s mindset and skill set.

So, no time to waste. Grab a little bit of DigiDave’s energy here:

From VidSF and ReelChanges in San Francisco to Global Radio Newsand FeatureWell at the international level to Leapfrog News Technologies which is thinking way outside the box. Combine that with the New Business Models for News Summit at CUNY where people like Dave Chase, Scott Karp and Rachel Sterne explained their startups, the goals they have, the barriers they face, etc and you can understand why I’m optimistic.

There is a communion in commiserating and dreaming about the days to come when one of us (not all of us) find a way to support meaningful journalism.

I’m pumped, not just for myself, but for the potential that we collectively have. Yes, I know it is becoming cliche – but it is the truth: I have “hope” that change is coming – if we make it happen!

What we need right now is 10,000 journalism startups. Of these 9,000 will fail, 1,000 will find ways to sustain themselves for a brief period of time, 98 will find mediocre success and financial security and two will come out as new media equivalents to the New York Times. (The NY Times is part of this game, I’m not making a big/small media divide here, just using them as a standard).

In essence, that’s why I’m asking you, dear class, to write a final paper that is a grant application for one of the J-Lab‘s funding opportunities—because journalism needs you to be thinking about innovative, entrepreneurial-minded, pathbreaking kind of ventures to finance good reporting in the future.

In groups today, let’s take a little tour of what’s happening in the field (take 15 minutes to investigate, discuss as a group, and prepare to teach the rest of us about it):

• (Group 1) Crowdfunding: Can Crowdfunding Help Save the Journalism Business? (MediaShift)

• (Group 2) Link Journalism: Publish2 is ground zero for this. Start here: What is link journalism? Much more via Scott Karp’s Publishing2.0 blog.

• (Group 3) Non-profit models: Start with this recent piece in the Times: Web Sites That Dig for News Rise as Watchdogs. Here are two overviews from CJR and AJR.

• (Group 4) Advertising-side innovations: Having local newspapers leverage the thing they know and do best—provide local content alongside local advertising. Hence, this MediaShift piece from yesterday: Should Newspapers Become Online Ad Brokers for Local Businesses?

To close, you might revisit Jeff Jarvis’ take on future business models for news.

Now, what’s your idea?

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November 2008

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