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August 23 2012

16:03

January 23 2012

16:38

Contradicting conventional wisdom: Resist starting and fear failure

If you read enough books and blogs and listen to enough of entrepreneurs and investors, you will eventually build a bank of conventional wisdom about startups and building new companies from scratch. There seems to be a set of “rules of thumb” that is recited and repeated and rarely challenged. I like it when conventional wisdom is not taken for granted, so it’s been refreshing to see at least a couple of these challenged recently.

Resist starting: “Just get going.” It’s a piece of advice I’ve heard and personally doled out at conferences and training sessions for would-be entrepreneurs.  Heck, I probably said this to the audience in Portland just last week. It seems so simple that in order to create something, one must first get started on the creation process. Not so, according to Cal Newport, whose post on Lifehacker this weekend sparked an interesting conversation on Quora and forced many entrepreneurs to consider whether they started too soon (or not soon enough).

I think an instinct for getting started cripples your chance at long-term success. And I suggest that, on the contrary, you should develop rigorous thresholds that any pursuit must overcome before it can induce action.

Newport’s point is really that aspiring entrepreneurs should be careful to not start too soon, not that they shouldn’t ever start. His advice: “Spend lots of time learning about different pursuits, but put off action until an idea begins to haunt your daydreams and refuses to be dislodged from your aspirational psyche. Then, and only then, should you reluctantly take that first step, one of what’s sure to be many, many more before you get to where you want.”

Fail early, fail often: The notion of failure is often discussed in entrepreneurial circles and the acceptance of failure, even the pursuit of it, has become de rigeur. ““Failure is inevitable; 
it happens all the time 
in a complex economy,” says Tim Harford, author of Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure.

But just how comfortable should one be with the possibility of failure? During a discussion about entrepreneurial journalism a couple of weeks ago at Arizona State University, Dan Gillmor suggested that being too comfortable with failure might actually be a liability, not a strength. Citing a blog post by Dave Winer, Embracing failure is a good way to fail, Gillmor said that having a full-force faith in one’s idea is a powerful agent and one that should be cultivated.

Believing that your idea will succeed, no matter the odds, is certainly how many entrepreneurs have succeeded. But it’s also how many failed. I think what’s most important is to learn from failure, and try to “fail forward” if at all possible. Embracing failure is only necessary once you’ve actually failed since you’ll have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on with your next idea. Just don’t start too soon.

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April 29 2011

16:07

What can newsrooms learn from startups?

There are stark differences between the culture in a newsroom, especially one attached to a legacy news company, and the culture in a tech startup. Monica Guzman and I explored some of the many ways these two cultures are different and what newsrooms have to learn from the startups last night at an ONA-SPJ meetup in Seattle.

MonicaMonica (@moniguzman) went from a Seattle-Post Intelligencer newsroom staffed with more than 140 to an online only seattlepi.com newsroom with 20 and now works at Intersect, a social storytelling startup. She said some of the biggest differences in those cultures stem from how the people who work there view their audience – and each other. Internal competition for scoops at the newspaper-based P-I contrasted greatly with her incredibly team-based experience at the online-only P-I and even more so at Intersect.

She also talked about how much love Intersect has for its users. A new startup just getting its name out and hoping people will give it a try views the audience much differently than most traditional newsrooms, where a certain disdain for the “idiot readers” is accepted behavior (and occasionally warranted, of course).

I’ve spent 15-plus years in newsrooms and two years at a startup. I also have talked to dozens of news startups as part of my research for my upcoming book on entrepreneurial journalism. So I tried to add some of those insights to the discussion last night and a couple of quotes seemed to really resonate with the audience.

One was from Texas Tribune editor Evan Smith, speaking about the sense of urgency and lack of complacency at a startup.

“I feel like Indiana Jones outrunning the boulder. If I look away for a second, I’m gonna get run over.”

Another was from Techdirt founder Mike Masnick, who suggests the measure of a successful news startup should be directly related to the engagement of the audience.

“The really successful ones are the ones that have focused on building a loyal community. Once you have that community in place, it enables so much more.”

And people really liked Pegasus News founder Mike Orren’s comment that, when his site was still finding its way, the employees exhibited a loyalty to “the cause” that made him feel like the whole operation was “a pirate ship.”

That level of dedication in a newsroom would make for some very different outcomes for legacy news companies in the digital age. As UW student Lucas Anderson remarked on Twitter, “Gotta find myself a pirate ship.”

Note: For more on this topic, see Lauren Rabaino’s post on 10,000 Words.

 

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April 21 2011

14:36

MedCity News making moves, growing up

MedCity News, the Cleveland-based journalism startup focused on coverage of the health and medical industry, made a number of important announcements last week that illustrate how the company is “growing up” quickly.

Added were two prominent board members and an innovative compensation plan for contributing writers. The company’s top leaders also joined boards, proving their credibility as new media entrepreneurs.

MedCityAuthors contributing articles to MedCity News can make money two ways: by receiving all revenue from an online advertisement accompanying their content and by letting MedCity Media resell their material to its customers. Authors then receive a share in the revenue from those sales, though the press release does not specify the amount of that share.

“This is a model created to find new ways to reward writers for quality content,” said Chris Seper, president and founder of MedCity Media. “Many sites have achieved short-term success through collecting unpaid content or low-cost, low-quality content. I don’t think that is a long-term, sustainable model in media — particularly when it comes to higher-quality healthcare content.”

Joining the MedCity Media board will be Merrill Brown, founding editor of MSNBC.com and one of the founders of Court TV, and Andie Rhyins, the former publisher of VentureBeat. (Press release here.)

Meanwhile, Chris Seper, president and founder of MedCity Media, joins the board for Civic Commons, a regional northeast Ohio nonprofit social enterprise that is building a fee-based engagement utility. Also, Amanda Todorovich, MedCity’s vice president of business development and marketing, has joined the advisory board of ShareWIK Media, a health and wellness site that also relies heavily on social engagement. (Press release here.)

All told, this collection of moves and announcements, combined with the make Med City News illustrate the momentum MedCity News has created. I look forward to watching it continue to grow.

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March 15 2011

20:08

Video of my talk from SXSW

Here is a video from my talk at SXSW, courtesy of Dale Blasingame (@normalguyguide). Thanks, Dale!

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March 13 2011

16:07

SXSW presentation slides

Here is the Prezi I put together for my talk today at SXSW Interactive in Austin. Thanks to everyone for coming out so early on a Sunday (after daylight savings times.)

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March 10 2011

14:38

On newspapers and paywalls

I’m often asked whether newspapers will be able to successfully charge for news on their websites. Recently, the TV station where I work asked me to weigh in for a story.

To summarize, I think it could be a supplemental revenue source for newspapers that publish high-quality, niche content. And only if the paywall goes up in front of the high-quality content and not across the whole site because there is no business in charging for commodity news.

The bottom line from a business perspective is that there are a lot more content websites making money from advertising than paywalls. The proven business model is the one that grew up with the web and the experimental model is the one that grew up with newspapers. It will be interesting to watch these experiments play out.

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December 17 2010

17:15

Journalism students need to be taught advertising, branding, building relationships, says ad entrepreneur

Journalism students must be taught about advertising, building relationships and branding – a football writer turned advertising entrepreneur told delegates at news:rewired today.

Rick Waghorn, founder of locally-focused advertising network Addiply, said that if we want to build a pyramid of news we have to start at the bottom level based on a local advertising market and messages.

Waghorn told the audience that he had a lightbulb moment when he read an article by Clay Shirky and Craig Newmark claiming that the only saviour for newspapers was a time machine.

The first person he met on his road to Damascus was an ex-ad man. They teamed up to create Addiply, which has helped hundreds of hyperlocal sites earn more from advertising than they would through Google Adsense. The idea has also being adopted by big media, including the Guardian which has applied the system to its its local sites. Addiply is also translating to the U.S market.

But if journalist students followed Waghorn’s advice, they would find themselves having a vastly different career to the kind envisaged in the YouTube clip below, which was shown by panelist Molly Flatt of 1,000heads.

It was striking how almost all the panelists in the branding and entrepreneurialism session had strong ideas that were formed at transitional moments of their life.

The advice from Rory Brown, founder of Briefing Media, is that business-to-business publishing is the place to be. Rory Brown’s own changing consumption of media inspired him to launch the company, which produces the online title The Media Briefing.

He told delegates that he was starting to consume media from lots of different places around the world and no longer went through the simple ritual of reading the Guardian on a Monday or Marketing magazine weekly.

Brown said that his reading habits had fragmented massively and it occurred to him that it would be useful to put all that content in one place and save people the time of building up a network.

Alex Wood‘s Not on the Wires was inspired by a desire to get closer to the story through the use of mobile technology. Formed with two other young journalists, they pioneered their approach to reporting from the field at the G20 protests in London.

They have formed a network of related organisations with like-minded companies, using Not on the Wires as a shop window for their work.

“We have done a lot of unpaid work, we have done a lot of late nights,” he said. “We do it because we are passionate about it.”

Wood admitted that the idea of entrepreneurial journalism would get laughed out of the door at the business schools he attended in Wales and Japan.

Alex Wood at news:rewired:

September 13 2010

20:58

Rafat Ali Seeks to Re-imagine Travel Guide Industry for Mobile

After traveling around the world for the last two years, paidContent founder Rafat Ali has a new venture. In a separate Q&A, he describes why he wants to avoid the business of covering news.

Here, he discusses how the travel guide industry piqued his interest and how he started Guidism.com to explore whether the industry can be re-imagined for mobile devices.

Dorian Benkoil: Could you tell me about what you’re working on?

Rafat Ali: One of the sectors that I’m deeply interested in, and very likely my next venture, is going to be in the travel guidebook sector.

And that’s born out of a few things. One is, as people who have been following me on Facebook and Twitter know, I have been traveling for the last 24 months. I have been to five different countries and all kinds of various places, and as a result I think it’s fair to say that I’ve caught more than the travel bug, and have also been using all kinds of guides, whether it’s books or research online, or a bunch of mobile apps.

I think there is an opening in the market that I can help address in the travel guidebook sector, particular as the sector gets re-imagined in the mobile arena. If anything says mobile, travel guide says mobile …

Exactly what it means for me and what the final thing I’m going to be working on will look like, to be honest, I don’t know yet. What I have done is launch a site, a blog, which is what I know best, about the travel guide sector called Guidism.com, which essentially is the daily links that I’m posting as I learn about the sector. …

Can you tell me more about your intentions with mobile and things you want to do?

Ali: It’s obvious that the scope for reinvention of the guidebook is on the mobile platform. Clearly, online there are too many sources of information. Most people start their research on Google.

So how do you as a startup or an established brand rise above the noise? I think on the mobile platform that becomes slightly more clear, because by the time you’ve reached the mobile platform, you’ve already done pre-research of where you want to go.

At a destination … you need a guide, whether that’s a printed guide or a mobile guide. Just making an e-book out of a guidebook is not enough. Some of the guide companies have done that. That’s not even taking advantage of the medium, which is a live medium. Mobile is a connected medium, so there a lot of things that you can do. And that’s what I’m trying to figure out.

This seems rather different than what you did before. This a vertical, but you’re not really talking about covering a vertical, and you’re not talking about doing a news media company.

Ali: Correct. Also, this is a consumer vertical, not a B2B vertical, which I’ve done previously. When I started thinking about leaving, and especially as I was traveling, I think one of reasons I was traveling so wide was to clear my head and also figure out what I want to do next.

One of the things I did not want was to do something in my comfort zone, which I’ve been doing previously for the last eight years of my life. The easiest thing for me would be to take that vertical building knowledge and apply it to another B2B vertical that I can apply the same treatment, which is fast-breaking news, bite-sized chunks, analysis, opinion, data, research. Add conferences, add classifieds, add video — all the elements that went into ContentNext and paidContent, and all the stuff that I’ve done. …

In business to business, everything is incremental, right? You get this many visitors or this much money, you hire another person. Or you do this much, and you expand. And the audience growth is also incremental — it never is exponential — which is good and steady. …

But having covered the consumer companies, I’ve always liked the high that comes with the exponential growth. If something clicks, that’s the high I want to experience at least once in my life, however naive that sounds. But of course there’s good and bad. Good is if you get that high. Bad is you can flame out so much faster. …

Isn’t everything you’ve said about news applicable to travel guides? Whatever brilliant content you get, brilliant applications you build, brilliant platforms you get them on, there is other content. Others with just as few barriers can do the same thing you’re talking about with travel.

Ali: Yes and no. I can’t explain for two reasons. One is I will disclose more than I’m willing to. And secondly, I’m still learning. The reason I say no is because for something where people have invested a bunch of money to go a certain place — especially destinations outside your own country — the planning and the guide part of it cannot be left to chance, which is left to brands that are untested and not well-known.

From a consumer point of view, if they’re investing so much money and time and effort to go, there has to be enough security, in terms of when they’re taking a guide, whether it’s a book or it’s mobile. It has to have reliable information. They can’t be stranded in the middle of nowhere without knowing where go.

I’ve learned this being a traveler, and learning about the travel industry. While it seems to be the easiest thing to get content, it’s one of the hardest, backbreaking kinds work that these guys have done over the last 20, 30, 40 years, which is how long these guys have been in existence. … It’s not just creating something one time; it’s updating that is also extremely difficult, especially outside the popular sectors. …

But there are four or six established brands I could name. Even in the backpack sector, the high-end sector, there are a couple or three brands in each.

Ali: If you look at the numbers in the travel guide sector, all of them, especially in the last couple of years, have declined.

Of course, those are secular trends. The print part of the guidebook sector is in decline. It’s also cyclical because travel in the last two to three years has been hit by the economy, and [that will continue] for the next couple of years, in all likelihood.

It’s also why I’m looking at it as an opportunity because now is the down cycle, and there are probably things to start and things to pick up that will be much cheaper now than they will be in a few years.

I do think brands matter in this industry. Imagine the content dropped into these books. I mean, a company like Lonely Planet, just as an example, has 800 different titles. Imagine the amount of content that is built into those books. How can a startup even begin to rival that, even if all they’re doing for the next five to 10 years is gathering content?

So what’s your opportunity?

Ali: Maybe not in the travel content industry but maybe an allied services thing that will become a hit. It could be a technology. It could be a way of presenting these books on these platforms. It could be search in the travel guide sector. So I don’t know yet, to be honest. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Search certainly seems to be an interesting opportunity.

If you do create the brilliant application, brilliant technology, sure that gives you a head start. But somebody else could come along and create another brilliant technology that somehow undercuts or steals or improves upon what you’ve done.

Ali: Hopefully I will be that person.

Again, there are slight risks in going public for competitive reasons or even talking about it in the posts that I did. But if your competitive advantage is silence, I don’t think that’s a huge advantage.

I feel like I’ll learn more being in a public forum, as I say in my post [on the site], and also I’m getting e-mails from people in the sector, so clearly I’m already getting more opportunities than I would have just being silent.

August 13 2010

20:45

20 SXSW Interactive Panels That Journalists Should Vote For

This year, for the first time ever, more people attended South by Southwest Interactive than the music festival, which has attracted people to Austin, Texas, every spring since 1987.

Though South by Southwest Interactive is best known for highlighting emerging technologies such as Twitter, many panels this year focused on journalism. And many of the 2,344 panels proposed for the 2011 conference have a strong journalism component.

SXSW opened up the voting for the proposed panels last week, asking people to pick the sessions they’d like to see at the festival, which will be held March 11-15, 2011. Voters can search the panels by categories, including journalism, online video, social networking and user-generated content.

Several of the 49 journalism-related panel proposals revolve around how technology is changing the storytelling process and why it’s important for journalists to think like “geeks,” or at least come to a better understanding of how programmers think and work.

You may have already heard about some of the panels on Twitter. That’s because the selection process is fairly democratic: Online votes account for 30 percent of the final decision, a SXSW advisory board accounts for 40 percent, and the SXSW staff account for the remaining 30 percent. Online voting closes on Friday, Aug. 27.

I looked through the panel proposals, including those that were not listed under the journalism category, and selected 20 that I think journalists would find worthwhile. Given how many panels there are, I’m sure I’ve left out some good ones. If I’ve missed any that you think should be on this list, feel free to add them to the comments section of this piece or respond to @Poynter via Twitter.

Journalism

I’m So Productive, I Never Get Anything Done
Media columnist David Carr of The New York Times will look at how technology contributes to, and detracts from, journalists’ productivity. He raises relevant questions for journalists who want to strike a better balance between consuming media and creating it: “Is your desktop a window on the world or just a view of the prison yard?” and “What specific steps have you taken to bifurcate your world into productivity and recreation?”

Predictions and the News: Getting the Future Right
Matt Thompson of NPR plans to look at the predictions that are a key part of news coverage. He’ll address how new approaches to journalism are making it easier to assess and follow up on predictions about what’s to come. He also plans to talk about how to help the public make better sense of claims about the future.

Why Journalism Doesn’t Need Saving: An Optimist’s List
Dan Gillmor’s panel is focused on the future of the media. He’ll talk about innovative projects from startups and traditional media companies and will explain why they make him hopeful about the future. Given all the innovation that’s taking place, he says, there’s good reason to be optimistic about where the profession is headed.

Ordering Design: Grid Design for the New World
Khoi Vinh, who left his job last month as design director of NYTimes.com, will talk about how grid-based design is changing along with new media and platforms. He’ll look at best practices, common mistakes people make when using grids and what you need to know about grids to use them well. The panel is a sequel to his 2006 panel, “Grids Are Good.”

Information Architecture as Storytelling
Geoff Barnes of Elliance Inc. will discuss the similarities between information architecture and storytelling. This panel, which is likely to attract user experience designers, will address questions such as: “How does knowing the user’s story affect project definition, content strategy, site map development, wireframes, copyrighting and visual design?”

Crazy, Cool and Interesting Uses of Geodata
As the title of his panel suggests, Elad Gil of Twitter will discuss weird and cool applications that were built with geodata. He’ll also look at geolocation datasets that have recently become available and will address unexpected ways that geodata is being used.

The Grand Challenges in Media
“The state of the media” is a phrase you’ve probably heard a lot. Twitter’s Robin Sloan wants to bring it up again, but in a way that’s “more focused, constructive and engaging.” He plans to describe significant, unsolved problems in media as they relate to journalism, such as those related to technology, organization and economics. He’ll include a “starter kit” for figuring out these problems and will talk about who seems best positioned to tackle them. 

Better Web Experience Through Anthropology
News sites talk about creating a better experience for their users, but their approach to doing so may not be as effective as it could be. Chris Bailey of Bailey WorkPlay will show why code isn’t the only important element of websites and Web applications. He’ll introduce tools that anthropologists use to understand their subjects and then explain how you can use them to assess how your site design impacts the user experience.

Pulitzer 2.0: Building News Apps
Drawing on his experience as an interface engineer at The New York Times, Tyson Evans will describe how news organizations are using Web frameworks to build news apps that tackle major investigations and increase government accountability. He’ll also talk about how visualization and design can make data easier to understand, and how journalists can help the community engage more effectively with this data.

Whiteness on the Web: Racism or Culture?
In his panel about diversity on the Web, The Root’s Joel Dreyfuss will look at how the Web creates racial separation and whether we need a campaign to desegregate it. Dreyfuss plans to address questions that are important for all journalists to consider: “Are we repeating old racial exclusivity patterns in new media?”; “Should content managers make an affirmative effort to diversify their content?” and “How should sites handle offensive and racist commentary?”

Real-Time Streams Need Real-Time Feedback
ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick will explore the challenges with real-time information and what’s wrong with current methods of managing it. He’ll explore the future of real-time curation, filtering and feedback, and he’ll describe how consumers can customize their data streams with real-time feedback.

Social Games: Manipulating Your Brain Chemistry, For Good
Michael Fergusson of Ayogo Games will challenge the notion that casual games are a waste of time. He’ll look at how social games can lead to significant behavioral changes and give examples of games that are doing this. One of the key questions he’ll ask: How can we design games that add value to the world at large?

Programming/Development

Why Journalists Need to Think Like Geeks
This panel will address the fundamental differences between how programmers and journalists think and work. By thinking more like “geeks,” The New Yorker’s Blake Eskin argues, journalists can learn to communicate and collaborate more effectively with programmers — and ultimately create better digital projects. 

Hacking the News: Applying Computer Science to Journalism
This panel, which will be led by Burt Herman of Hacks/Hackers, will focus on “re-engineering” the storytelling process. Herman will talk about how journalists and programmers can work together to re-engineer the future of journalism, and why this matters. He’ll also talk about terms you may not fully understand but want to learn more about: object-oriented programming, model-view-controller frameworks and social code repositories.

Girl Developers++: Getting Women Equipped to Ship
Sara Chipps of Girl Developer LLC says there’s been a lot of talk, but not a lot of action, about the gender gap in software development. She advocates for educating women to be software developers and empowering them to teach themselves, and she plans to talk about some of the roadblocks women face when learning how to code. Among the questions she’ll address: “How can I start an initiative to educate women in technology in my community?”

Our Media: Building an API for Public Media
This panel is especially relevant to journalists working in public media. Robert Bole of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will talk about public media’s efforts to build an open API called the Public Media Platform. (An API, in this sense, facilitates the use of a news organization’s content by third parties who want to create their own applications.) Bole will discuss how independent publishers and content creators will be able to use the platform.

Entreprenuerial Journalism

TBD: Engaging Local Blogs in Your News Startup
Lisa Rowan will apply some of the lessons she’s learned while working for TBD, a D.C.-area news site that launched last week. The site has a network of more than 100 community bloggers who contribute news, visual content and conversation to the site. Rowan will offer details about how the bloggers were selected and recruited, and will talk about what TBD has taken away from the experience so far.

Crowd Funding Your Startup — Without Going to Jail
If you want to create a news startup, consider this panel, which will teach you how to tap into the community for funding. Fred Bryant of WealthForge will explain how to overcome challenges that stand in the way of getting people to invest in your startup. He’ll also look at what industry leaders think about the future of crowd funding and will offer thoughts on how long it’ll take for crowd funding to become a viable way of raising capital.

Newstopia: The New Business Models for News
Mark Briggs, an author and a Ford teaching fellow at Poynter, will lead a session about how to use digital tools to launch and run a successful news business. He’ll answer some key questions about how digital news startups fit into our democracy and why sites such as The Huffington Post thrive while traditional media outlets struggle. He’ll also address what these startups mean for people who are looking for jobs in journalism.

How Brands Form Partnerships: Headscratchers and Natural Fits
Often, we hear about partnerships after they’re made. But what happens before the partnership is finalized? USAToday.com’s Brian Dresher will share details about what happens beforehand and will describe how to evaluate potential partners. He’ll also discuss how to use internal resources to support a partnership and how to measure the success of a partnership. This panel could be especially good for news sites that want to innovate but don’t have enough resources internally to do so. It could also be good for universities that want to partner with media outlets.

July 09 2010

10:39

The Journalism Firm: What journalists have to learn from lawyers

Responding to ongoing discussion of the idea of journalists as entrepreneurs, videojournalism pioneer Michael Rosenblum suggests a new model for independent journalists going forward – the law firm:

Lawyers, (while it is true some become employees), tend to organise themselves in partnerships in which they pool their skills and their business.

A law firm hires its talents out to many clients.  A Journalism Firm (to craft an interesting idea) would do the same. A partnership of journalists would contract with various magazines, newspapers, television stations and websites to offer content, as a law firm offers work. In this way, they would also be insulated from the predictable disaster if one newspaper or one magazine went under.

The Journalism Firm would be a partnership, and as a good law firm combines the high paying M&A with the lower paying family practice, so too could a Journalism Firm combine the low paying investigative journalism with the high paying Public Relations. Don’t cringe. Many of our grads go into PR and can make a fortune. It’s the same skill set.

Full post on Rosenblum TV at this link…Similar Posts:



June 09 2010

10:16

#JNTM: Professor Robert Picard on why newspapers deserve to die

“Newspapers deserve to die,” Professor Robert Picard told delegates at the University of Wesminster / British Journalism Review Journalism’s Next Top Model conference this morning.

But that doesn’t mean he wants to see journalism die: it’s time to change the products and the platforms, he said. The future of journalism is dependent on journalists and other distribution platforms; not newspapers.

Picard, Hamrin Professor of Media Economics and director of the Media Management and Transformation Centre, at Jonkoping University in Sweden and fellow at the Reuters Institute in Oxford, claimed that print distribution is an expensive and inefficient way to spread news. “I think we’ll have paper for a while,” he said. For 20 years even, he guessed, but we’ll see more migration to screen.

He’s not at all nostalgic about news organisations’ bureaux spread out over the world, and says it’s time for newspapers to pool resources and become more efficient. As newspapers grew in the second half of the 20th century, they developed complex systems and bureaucracy, which has led to inefficiency, he said.

“You get very high overhead costs to support the corporations along the way, one of the big problems with success,” he said.

He encouraged news organisations to consider:

  • Smaller and more agile operations
  • A more entrepreneurial approach
  • More innovation in products and process
  • Alliances, networking and cooperation
  • Multiple sources of financial funding
  • Rethinking of entire business model of media and how it creates value for customers and itself

Something is wrong with the product, he said, when 40 per cent of public claim they don’t want to read the newspaper they used to read (source of stat not cited).

“I’ve been saying for 10 years – why in the world are newspaper printing stock tables?” It’s time to kill these, along with the television guides, he said, as consumers find with other ways of sourcing up-to-date information.

Stop simply reporting news and provide value to the consumer, he said. Consumer can get top ten headlines from internet services, so newspaper organisations have to provide something different than the “flow of information”.

Answering a question about the realities for newspapers, he speculated that while the Guardian is North America’s biggest news site (that it attracts the highest number of unique users in the region is a little known fact, he said), the newspaper itself (not the org, necessarily) is likely to die – along with the Independent. Newspapers don’t interest Picard at all – but saving journalism does.

Professor Picard recently sat on a panel between Arianna Huffington and Rupert Murdoch, who don’t like each other very much. Murdoch is saying we’ve got to save the business; Huffington is saying we have to destroy the business. Some place between Huffington and Murdoch’s realities is where we are, he said.

Similar Posts:



May 21 2010

09:11

Next Generation Journalist: crowdfund your journalism

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on Journalism.co.uk.

Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism is on sale now.

10. crowdfund your journalism

Crowdfunding has made it into my book even though, on the face of it, it is hardly entrepreneurial. It is however a method only possible thanks to the internet; and as you’ll read in the e-book, a method which actually requires some of the toughest entrepreneurial spirit.

The idea of crowdsourcing news stories, opinion and media isn’t that new. But the notion of crowdsourcing money is only beginning to come to fruition. The real pioneers on this have been in cinema: last year the producers of Age of Stupid funded the entire project with donations from the public.

The internet has made it easier too. In particular we’re seeing new platforms from which to launch your crowdfunding project. Spot.Us is one of the first, and currently helps to fund projects with networks in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. More recently another startup – Kickstarter – has emerged working along similar lines.

Crowdfunding your journalism…

  • has so far proved successful in print, online and cinematic projects
  • is not easy and requires strong marketing skills
  • is only possible because of the internet

But be under no illusions: crowdfunding is not an easy ride.

“You have to tell people what’s in it for them” says multimedia journalist Annabel Symington, “people want to know what their money is going to do, and saying it’s going to fund a piece of quality journalism isn’t enough.”

Along with two partners Annabel has spent the last few months using Kickstarter to raise enough money to report on the Guarani Aquifier. As with almost all of the ideas suggested in Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in 2010, crowdfunding it’s about being more than a journalist:

“Through this project I’ve become a brand designer, a social media guru, a public speaker and an event organiser. You name it, I think I’ve done it,” says Annabel.

You can find out more about the Guarani Project here, and more about the ins and outs of crowdfunding in the ebook.

And that wraps up the 10 new ways to make money in journalism in 2010. If you’ve been inspired by any of them you can find out how to make them happen inside the ebook – on a discount price until 27 May.

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May 19 2010

10:21

Next Generation Journalist: how to make hyperlocal work

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on Journalism.co.uk from today. Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism will be available to download in full on 20 May.

08. set up a hyperlocal website

OK, so setting up a hyperlocal blog is hardly a new way to do things in journalism. But making money from it is pretty new and, seemingly, still pretty rare.

In the UK for example, only a handful of hyperlocal blogs, such as Ventor Blog, SR2 and SE1 are getting the sorts of eyeballs and ad revenue to make a living.

Thing is, hyperlocal is an important and (if done correctly) profitable niche for the next generation journalist; we’re just not going about it right.

Setting up a blog, writing loads of local content and hoping to bring in local ad revenue alone is a tough gig. At first you’re unlikely to get the hits you need to bring in enough cash. Google Adwords is becoming something of a byword for false promises of cash among website owners.

If you want to maximise your advertising revenue, a product like Addiply is a really good bet, and is it seems to be bringing in better results for those who use it on a local level. Advertisers could expect to pay around £30 a month, although it varies from site to site.

But I really think for a hyperlocal website to work – in fact, for any web based content product to work – the ultimate aim must be to make ad revenue as small a slice of the pie as possible.

The less your business relies on ad revenue, the less vulnerable you are to the inevitable ups and downs of the market.

Other ways to make hyperlocal work

Have a look at yesterday’s post on my blog, where I talk about a local news success story – thebusinessdesk.com.  Set up by David Parkin, it now has three regional business sites in Yorkshire, the North-West and Birmingham.

Parkin told last week’s Local Heroes Conference he expects to turnover £1 million this year.

Where does the money come from? Ad revenue yes, but that’s only a part of it. Firstly, thebusinessdesk.com has a niche (local financial news) and a wealthy target audience (business people).

It has a mailing list of 37,000 subscribers who get a daily email of business news, which is sponsored. They have an iPhone app and run events.

It’s a successful model – and one which needs to be employed by hyperlocal bloggers. Don’t just process listings, and re-write press releases; become a major part of your community. Become a leader in your community.

Be the voice for those whose voices don’t get heard. Run regular events so you can meet readers face-to-face. Run pub quizzes and pocket the profits.  Sell products, take a slice of restaurant bookings through your website, charge for listings. Don’t just maintain a website – build a mailing list and send them news direct to their inbox. Get that mailing list sponsored by local businesses.

If you’ve got any good stories about how you’re making hyperlocal work, I’d love to hear them.

Interested in niche and hyperlocal? Looking for new ideas for specialist journalism? Attend Journalism.co.uk’s upcoming event: news:rewired – the nouveau niche. Follow the link to find out more.

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May 17 2010

09:20

Next Generation Journalist: leverage your expertise

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on Journalism.co.uk from today. Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism will be available to download in full on 20 May.

06. become an ‘infopreneur’

The business model for journalism has always looked a little bit like this: 1) research and collect information about things the public want or need to know about 2) publish that information and sell it to them or 3) charge advertisers to promote their products along side that information.

In other words, journalism has always been about making money from information or expertise. In the new digital information age we should still be exploiting that model. But we’re not.

What is an infopreneur? Put simply, it’s someone who packages and sells information. You’d think that would come naturally to journalists. Instead journalists have struggled to profit from their information in the digital age.

The Next Generation Journalist sees opportunity in the affordability and ease of finding and publishing information online and exploits that.

The internet and the ‘information economy’ we find ourselves in means two things:

  • 1. finding things out is easier and cheaper than it ever has been.
  • 2. packaging and publishing that information is equally cheap and easy

The Next Generation Journalist uses both of these facts to develop exciting new entrepreneurial ventures.

Becoming an infopreneur…

  • is easier than it ever has been in history
  • allows you to build a brand and reputation as a leader in a field you are passionate about
  • enables you to package your expertise in different ways for money

But I’m not an expert!

That’s the natural first instinctive reply. Here’s the amazing thing: it is actually quite easy to become an expert in certain areas. Firstly, the word ‘expert’ is a relative term, it requires you to know more than most people in your field and to develop strategic contacts, but no longer requires a qualification or letters after your name (except, of course, for things like medicine and law).

Secondly, the process requires you to research key resources and share that with the world on a blog or website, build a community (that’s really important), and then start to produce products for that community. Those products can be ebooks, audio downloads, week long e-courses, or physical products like books or DVDs.

Nick Williams, who launched Inspired Entreprenuer, a website built on the same principal, says journalists are perfectly placed to enter this field.

“Many journalists are fantastic at being able to grasp large areas of information…and being able to distill them down to their essence” he says. “Those skills will really be in demand in the world to come.”

Click here to find out more.

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January 11 2010

14:26

Teaching entrepreneurial journalism

On Friday, we at CUNY had the honor of playing host to a conference (call) for more than two dozen educators around the world — New York to Arizona to Berkeley to Guadalajara to London to Oslo — who are teaching or starting to teach entrepreneurial journalism.

Here’s the wiki where we will continue to share syllabi, case studies, course materials, and videos. Here is a link to download the recording of the hour-long call (fast-forward past the howdys).

We share similar but not identical goals. We all agree that it’s important for journalism students — and journalists — today to understand the economics of news. Some of us add that it was irresponsible of our institutions not to teach this in the past. We agree it is important to bring entrepreneurship into the industry. Some of us concentrate more on new entrepreneurial ventures, others more on bringing innovation into existing companies. Some say journalists aren’t cut out to be entrepreneurs (I disagree) but all agree that entrepreneurship is a way to teach both innovation and business. Some notes from the call:

* At Arizona State, entrepreneurship is now a required course for journalism graduate students. AS emphasizes the need to get journalists to learn how to talk to people in other department and disciplines: how to work with engineers, especially. So AS gives student teams budgets for programming their projects; they’re looking at offering 5-10 hours per team for AS programming resources and 5-10 hours for programming resources teams find outside. They want teams to build but don’t want them to be tied to one platform. Cool, eh?

* Larry Kramer at Syracuse asked about cooperation between journalism and business schools but on the call there were notes of caution. Business students, one said, aren’t there to be entrepreneurs; business school teach corporate culture, said another; and these business students also don’t learn media. Kramer wants to teach the Harvard Business School case method but is looking for cases written from the journalistic perspective.

* Seek and ye shall find: Bill Grueskin of Columbia said the school has used a Harvard Business School case on the Norwegian wonder, Shipsted, and HBS will have another on Huffington Post. But HBS charges. Columbia created such a case on Politico and offered it to fellow faculty for free. Columbia also teaches a 60-minute MBA course and is putting that online.

* David Westphal of USC talked about the pluses and minuses of teaching interdisciplinary classes with students from various pursuits; he said it’s worth the effort to get different perspectives.

* Jay Rosen at NYU said he wants to get students to grapple with the entire problem of sustainability in journalism, putting it all on the table: journalism, audience, technology, business. He wants to “override the siloization of journalism.” He also said we need to work to attract different students who are entrepreneurially minded.

* Jim Willse, ex editor of the Star-Ledger who’s teaching at Princeton this term, said we need to give scholarships to publishers to get them into entrepreneurial programs, to change their culture.

* Many of us – Maryland, Columbia, CUNY – agreed that it’s important to have entrepreneurs and investors into class to expose journalists to their thinking.

* For our part at CUNY, here is a report from my last entrepreneurial class (funded by the McCormick Foundation) and a description of how the class works. Here also are the new business models for news (funded by the Knight Foundation) that now inspire much of our work. Note that we just added a course in hyperlocal built around running The New York Times blog, The Local, in Brookyln. We are working with The Times and others to also tackle hyperlocal advertising opportunities and challenges (funded by the Carnegie Corporation); more on that as we progress.

: ALSO: In Germany Ulrike Langer polls the journalism schools there — which operate in or close to media companies — to see what they are doing in entrepreneurial journalism and finds activity at those run by Burda and Axel Springer. (It’s in German.) Next call, we’ll have our German colleagues join us. If you know of such work going on elsewhere in the world, please let us know.

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