Posts tagged with 'independent journalism'

Conclusion: The American Way

Posted Feb 1, 2010 @ 12:41 pm by
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“We’re watching hundred of billions of [bailout] dollars being spent unaccountably to support supposedly our ‘American way.’ I think at some point we have to ask whether or not the ‘American way’ includes journalism.” – John Battelle

Do Americans view journalism as a public good that is critical to our country’s intellectual infrastructure and American exceptionalism? Do they believe that the strength of our democracy depends on a diverse and free press? (more…)

Creating a greater distribution of value

Posted Jan 29, 2010 @ 11:24 am by
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Successful business models hinge their ability to measure value. “A well-measured medium is a more valuable medium” according to Nielsen Media Research’s website.

As more reliable and commonly accepted metrics emerge to measure content performance, the more that organizations can estimate the value they create. And, others can estimate how much they would be willing to pay for it. Money will flow to where there is value in the chain. Marketing analytics are based on this sort of reliable measurement, and deals are done based on it. As metrics become better, publishers may be able to use new incentives for writers and producers. Also, a publisher could potentially convince aggregators to pay based on content’s performance. Aggregators could sign up freely or cheaply and pay if content spreads past a targeted threshold. If the price is low enough, and the aggregator can accurately measure the performance, it would be in their interest to share earnings in exchange for reliable content. (more…)

Will there be a new demand for quality journalism?

Posted Jan 25, 2010 @ 12:28 pm by
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The rise of free content will inevitably continue. However, some content could become more expensive as well. Stewart Brand, a futurist who created Whole Earth Catalog, WELL and Global Business Network, famously started a meme in 1984, “Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive.”

Brand explained,  “Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine—too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property,’ the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better.” (more…)

Radical New Ways of Meaning-Making and Filtering

Posted Jan 21, 2010 @ 11:26 am by
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The next phase of filtering will center on the evolution of the “Semantic Web,” which Ashish Soni, who directs the Information Technology Program at the University of Southern California, describes as an interactivity evolution a step beyond aggregation that aims to makes information more meaningful and useful. According to an article co-authored by Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with founding the web, the semantic evolution “lets users engage in the sort of serendipitous reuse and discovery of related information that’s been a hallmark of viral web uptake.”

“Meta tagging” as we know it today is just the beginning. The Semantic Web builds upon any metadata (e.g. hyperlinks, location, time, movement or categories) to infer greater meaning from information. (more…)

What Role Will Government Play?

Posted Dec 17, 2009 @ 11:36 am by
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Lawmakers are increasingly stepping up to address the crisis in the journalism business. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter in March 2009 to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Justice Department to consider an antitrust exemption to help newspapers survive. The public benefit of saving newspapers might outweigh historical concerns about anti-competitive behavior. In Connecticut, among other places, lawmakers are also intervening to keep newspapers alive. Pelosi’s letter prompted a House Judiciary Committee hearing the following month about problems in the newspaper industry.

If government officials had the will, they could support the public value of media in many ways besides loosening up anti-trust regulations for failing newspapers. How far they will go remains to be seen. “There is this massive behind-the-scenes, epic, political battle being waged inside the beltway, right now, between the forces that want to create this more open, distributed, participatory media and telecommunications future and those who favor a centralized, command and control regime, a reinstitution of command and control in all of these new media in telecommunications systems,” said Sascha Meinrath, Research Director for the New America Foundation, during a speech at eComm in March 2009. (more…)

Will Philanthropy Adjust its Role?

Posted Dec 14, 2009 @ 1:34 pm by
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Philanthropy often serves to fill the funding gap between the private and public sectors, but it is often insufficient. Philanthropists can still do a lot to advance independent media by supporting experimentation, funding issue-focused content, investing in trusteeship models and targeting areas such as distribution that can shift the system.

Many foundations dedicate much more funding to civic engagement and leadership programs than independent media. A big question is “How can they integrate these funding areas more strategically?” (more…)

From Audiences to Communities

Posted Dec 1, 2009 @ 12:15 pm by
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Everyone who participated in this project said that building audiences as communities was the biggest new source of value in media. Some viewed the term “audience” as an anachronism because it still puts too much emphasis on content as the primary product.

Since communities are formed in multiple and co-existing ways, people interviewed for this project varied in their opinions about how best to build communities and capture enough value from them to run a media organization. Audiences can grow in two different directions simultaneously: Broader and deeper. (more…)

Progressive Ideas Vs. “My Ideas”

Posted Nov 23, 2009 @ 3:36 pm by
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Progressive publishers have brought to light many important issues, including the implosion of the housing market and predictions about the Iraq War before the invasion. Independent media’s greatest value is often helping underserved communities address unmet needs.

The new political environment has shifted the context in which progressive publishers operate. In the Bush era, being in opposition had underpinned the identity and tactics of “progressives.” Despite euphoria regarding Barack Obama’s presidency, the new administration will inevitably have its share of disappointments, keeping the role of watchdog important. However, the political shift also affects how progressive publishers generate value. For example, Jay Harris believed that interest in Mother Jones, a member of The Media Consortium (TMC), might have been strengthened due to readers’ concerns about the Bush administration. Many others in progressive media have expressed a similar belief. A clear enemy can help build funders’ and audiences’ perceived value for editorial content with a strong oppositional viewpoint. In the new political context, publishers may generate more value by promoting progressive values of inclusivity and fairness through politically diverse conversations. As a result, the definition of “progressive” may broaden, and the label itself may become an anachronism.

The new political and media environment has caused progressive media organizations to reevaluate their identity and tactics. At a TMC annual meeting in February 2009, members discussed whether the consortium’s work no longer falls within the traditional label of “progressive.” They debated what notions independent media might need to give up if this were true.

One group believed independent media needed to give up one-dimensional political stances and in favor of more broadly inclusive values such as human rights and global perspectives in storytelling. Another group believed that independent media must go even farther by giving up the need to articulate political stances altogether. They believed publishers should look more pragmatically at what works and what people want to know by focusing more on being a trusted source of quality journalism. Identifying where the greatest value lies will help independent media resolve this debate and move forward more powerfully.

“My Ideas”

Whether content is mainstream or alternative, its value is increasingly determined by how it relates to “my ideas,” a mélange of concepts and interests that an individual has accumulated. The personal expression of my ideas, mixing of other people’s content to fit my ideas, filtering content to reflect my ideas—all are an evolution of what Nicholas Negroponte of MIT’s Media Lab coined, “The Daily Me.”

The proliferation of blogs and user-generated content is already a clichéd example of the demand for personal expressions, but Motoko Rich of the New York Times predicted a more interesting sea change: “The point may soon come when there are more people who want to write books than there are people who want to read them.” To be sure, many forms of media could pass this threshold of a greater demand for expression than consumption, and this dynamic creates opportunities that publishers are beginning to tap as well. For example, Hewlett-Packard’s MagCloud makes it easy for anyone to make his or her own slick print magazines, produced on-demand.

This blog is an excerpt from The Big Thaw, a guide to the evolution of independent media, written by Tony Deifell of Q Media Labs and produced by The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets. Learn how your organization can use this report. For more information and recommendations from the study, click here.

New Sources of Value

Posted Nov 23, 2009 @ 1:09 pm by
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What needs can be met, problems solved or desires fulfilled?

In the old paradigm, the content that created the greatest value for mainstream media centered on the most popular and noncontroversial ideas. For independent media, the value stemmed from alternative ideas. Today, popular and alternative ideas are intertwined. The greatest value comes from how these ideas relate to “my ideas,” a combination of consumers’ growing personal expression, remixing and filtering.

This chapter covers the emerging sources of value that media organizations can capture, including:

  • Progressive Ideas and “My Ideas”
  • Solving Filter Failure
  • A Conversation Economy
  • From Audiences to Communities

To read more, download Vol. 2, Chapter 3 of The Big Thaw.

This blog is an excerpt from The Big Thaw, a guide to the evolution of independent media, written by Tony Deifell of Q Media Labs and produced by The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets. Learn how your organization can use this report. For more information and recommendations from the study, click here.

Counterintuitive Ways of Working

Posted Nov 19, 2009 @ 3:27 pm by
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Funders and investors are already cautious of funding experiments since most fail. Counterintuitive ways of doing business and producing content may seem even more risky, but they can also be the biggest game changers.

Counterintuitive Ways of Doing Business

Many organizations in both the for-profit and non-profit world view competition for resources as a “zero sum” game rather than a way to lift the tide for everyone. As a result, organizations have embraced the idea of “co-opetition.” Instead of competing in all aspects of their business, organizations cooperate in areas where they do not have competitive advantage.

For a long time, publishers avoided including hyperlinks to other websites for fear that they would simply lead readers away. However, publishers now see how important these links are to improving search engine optimization.

The secret to co-opetition is for organizations to define very clearly where they are competing and where they should work together. New ways of working that now seem counterintuitive will emerge. (more…)