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January 04 2012

11:03

2011: the UK hyper-local year in review

In this guest post, Damian Radcliffe highlights some topline developments in the hyper-local space during 2011. He also asks for your suggestions of great hyper-local content from 2011. His more detailed slides looking at the previous year are cross-posted at the bottom of this article.

2011 was a busy year across the hyper-local sphere, with a flurry of activity online as well as more traditional platforms such as TV, Radio and newspapers.

The Government’s plans for Local TV have been considerably developed, following the Shott Review just over a year ago. We now have a clearer indication of the areas which will be first on the list for these new services and how Ofcom might award these licences. What we don’t know is who will apply for these licences, or what their business models will be. But, this should become clear in the second half of the year.

Whilst the Leveson Inquiry hasn’t directly been looking at local media, it has been a part of the debate. Claire Enders outlined some of the challenges facing the regional and local press in a presentation showing declining revenue, jobs and advertising over the past five years. Her research suggests that the impact of “the move to digital” has been greater at a local level than at the nationals.

Across the board, funding remains a challenge for many. But new models are emerging, with Daily Deals starting to form part of the revenue mix alongside money from foundations and franchising.

And on the content front, we saw Jeremy Hunt cite a number of hyper-local examples at the Oxford Media Convention, as well as record coverage for regional press and many hyper-local outlets as a result of the summer riots.

I’ve included more on all of these stories in my personal retrospective for the past year.

One area where I’d really welcome feedback is examples of hyper-local content you produced – or read – in 2011. I’m conscious that a lot of great material may not necessarily reach a wider audience, so do post your suggestions below and hopefully we can begin to redress that.


July 25 2011

12:56

Digital media-buying platform MediaMath closed $20 million of funding

AdAge :: MediaMath, a top digital media-buying platform, just closed $20 million of funding, bringing its total capitalization to $30 million. The New York-based startup, which bills itself as the "Bloomberg terminal for marketing," licenses its technology to top agency holding companies and media buyers to enable them to bid on ad space across exchanges such as Yahoo's Right Media, Google's AdEx and Microsoft's AdECN. The startup plans to expand into video, social and mobile ad buying.

Continue to read Edmund Lee, adage.com

July 20 2011

20:37

Twitter poised to close a two-stage $800M funding, with $400m payday

AllThingsD :: AllThingsD reports, that in a move reminiscent of one done by Facebook in 2009, Twitter is close to completing $800 million funding deal that will include a second part in which around $400 million of the total will be used to cash out current investors and also employees.

Continue to read Kara Swisher, allthingsd.com

June 27 2011

16:00

More Awesome: News Challenge grantee Awesome Foundation wants to fund journalism at the micro level

There’s something inherently meta about the Awesome Foundation winning a grant from the Knight Foundation in order to…give grants. Also, something kinda awesome.

The Awesome Foundation: News Task Force, a winner of this year’s Knight News Challenge, wants to seed hundreds of projects to encourage new ventures in news and information for communities.

In essence, they’ll be acting as a mini-Knight Foundation, offering up support for journalism entrepreneurship and reinvention, one micro-grant at a time. Using the two-year, $244,000 grant, the Awesome Foundation’s new Institute on Higher Awesome Studies will specifically fund local journalism programs, events, apps, and prototypes.

But the news task force will be an experiment in how best to funding new media projects, as much as an exercise in supporting innovation. New funding models are on Knight’s collective mind these days, with the Knight News Challenge wrapping up and the foundation planning its next steps.

“We can help a foundation like Knight give money away in smaller increments to we can see what’s working and not working,” said Christina Xu, who will be overseeing the news task force project.

Tim Hwang, the founder of the Awesome Foundation, told me their structure, as much as there is one, is designed to build community and find the most effective uses for grants. “The Awesome Foundation proper is not a foundation at all,” Hwang said. “It’s an agreement between groups of 10 people to give money to cool projects.”

The Awesome Foundation model, small grants awarded in a quick fashion, is a departure from how nonprofit institutional support traditionally works in journalism, with multi-year, multi-zero checks. While that method certainly has its merits, the Awesome model, Hwang said, produces quicker results and can show whether a project is feasible. Ideally what the task force will do is combine the best of both worlds, making an Awesome Knight Foundation of sorts.

“One of the things we’re interested in, this project is an interesting experiment in bridging the gap from emerging platforms and foundations,” Hwang said.

Until now the Awesome Foundation’s work has primarily been more general purpose, focusing on geography, with chapters in cities around the U.S. and the world. Xu said following last year’s earthquakes in Haiti, the foundation wanted to find ways to broaden their kind of philanthropy. That took shape in the Institute on Higher Awesome Studies, which, while still being awesome, would try to direct funds to more serious causes. Xu said the News Challenge goals for community information were a good fit with the types of proposals the Awesome Foundation receives.

The task force will first set up shop in Detroit and, following Awesome Foundation protocol, they’ll hire a “Dean of Awesome” who will act as a local administrator. The dean, with help from Knight, will identify 10-15 members of the community coming from media, government, technology or civic groups, who will serve as trustees, the group ultimately responsible for awarding grants. Xu said the project could be expanded in a similar model to cities like New Orleans and Miami. Aside from the cost of a stipend for the local administrator the bulk of the money from Knight would be used for grants.

The most obvious difference between the foundations Awesome and Knight is scale, which is something the news task force will try to use to its advantage as it provides grants. Xu and Hwang said the size of grants and the scope of work will attract an audience that may have gone under Knight’s radar. But the other benefit of scale could be the creation of a farm system for journalism and information ideas. After landing a task force microgrant, finessing a proposal or building a beta, the next possible step could be a larger grant from the Knight Foundation, Xu said.

“In the future, [microgrant winners] could be a great pool to be funded, something the Knight News Challenge might want to fund later on,” she said.

May 25 2011

14:50

Can Seattle Save the World? Project Argo Event Takes on Global Health

Last month, about 700 people packed an auditorium in Seattle, not for a Microsoft developer's conference, but to discuss whether the city's burgeoning global health movement can eradicate disease and poverty across the globe. It was a live forum sponsored by public radio station KPLU and its Project Argo blog, Humanosphere. The event was provocatively named, "Can Seattle Save the World? (Poverty, Health and Chocolate)."

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It's exactly the kind of event we had in mind when we began working with NPR member stations last year on Argo. We'd been hoping that the offline and online worlds could collide in a way that would lead to serious discussion around weighty topics.

"The idea of community engagement is always something we'd hoped for in a variety of ways," said Jennifer Strachan, assistant general manager and director of public media at KPLU. "Our struggle was, what kind of a topic could draw a crowd around global health?"

For those of us who are evangelists of digital storytelling or espouse certain philosophies at conferences that usually start with, "The future of" in it, this is another way to measure that elusive "engagement" metric we all talk about. Certainly, we can't ignore critical web analytics -- uniques, pageviews, comments. But when you fill a large venue at $10 a head, you've tapped into something important.

Humanosphere blog

KPLU's Humanosphere is one of 12 NPR Project Argo blogs, whose mission is to develop deep content in a niche vertical that's critical to a local community but resonates nationally.

The Seattle-based site draws modest traffic numbers, punctuated with spikes when writing of global health/poverty issues more broadly in the news (see Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea" scandal).

But on this night, those who turned out to listen and ask questions acted as if they were going to see rock stars, Strachan said.

Tom Paulson, Humanosphere blogger and the evening's host, is most definitely an unlikely rock star. But he's been covering the growing movement in Seattle -- that goes far beyond the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- for years as a newspaper reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Paulson brought in experts from the Gates Foundation, the University of Washington, PATH and Theo Chocolates (hence the "and chocolate" in the title).

The event was live-blogged on Humanosphere, videotaped for Seattle's municipal cable TV channel, and tweeted via its own hashtag, #SEAsaves.

Engaging Young People

While Paulson said he's aware that influentials in the global health space like Humanosphere, he noted, "One thing that was confirmed for me is how big a deal this is for young people. A huge number of people in the crowd were college age or in their 20s. I was surprised at the sophistication of the questions, diversity of opinion, and the excitement for the subject matter."

So the question for Humanosphere is what practical effect the event will have on the blog itself going forward. The answer so far is that it has done little to increase traffic on the blog. Paulson admits the evening was long on policy and short on pitching the blog to this crowd, perhaps something he might do a bit more of next time. And yes, Paulson does expect there to be another live event in the fall.

But for KPLU, and its potential funders, the message on this night was there is an engaged community in Seattle willing to engage in a serious discussion about disease and poverty, and that public radio can be the impetus for that conversation.

As to whether Seattle can actually save the world, Paulson provided the answer to the gathering in the first five minutes. "We were kind of kidding around with the title. Obviously Seattle can't save the world. Bill Gates can't even probably save Zune."

March 31 2011

19:14

Quicker, smaller, more transparent: What Knight should do next? #JCARN

This month’s Carnival of Journalism is about “driving innovation” – in the wake of the end of the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge five year run, among other things. Here’s my take:

Driving innovation needs to be quick

Any innovative idea needs to be able to deploy and iterate quickly – and any scheme to fund innovation needs to support that.

Having been through the Knight News Challenge three times, and reached the final shortlist twice, I was struck each time by how much changed in the online world between the initial submission and final award: If an internet year is worth 4.7 normal years, this process was taking over 3 ‘years’ in internet time. So much changed during that period that by the time I had reached the second or third stage, I wanted to re-write the whole thing.

In contrast, when I entered Channel 4′s 4iP fund (far from perfect, but certainly faster), the time from application to approval was swift. This allowed us to spend a few months working with the funders in addressing the issues the project raised (in Help Me Investigate’s case, largely legal ones) and still being able to start work before the Knight awards had even been shortlisted.

Why the difference? Perhaps because of the next point.

Innovation thrives on limitations

One of the reasons the internet has been so disruptive is that it has lowered the barriers to entry. Multinational media organisations have thrown millions at their own solutions, and yet most of them fail. One of the problems that funds such as Knight’s and Channel 4′s aim to solve is of access to funds – but those funds don’t have to be large.

The median value of a News Challenge award has ranged from $200,000 to $326,000 during its four years of existence, and I suspect one of the problems with Channel 4′s 4iP fund was that its £50m pot was based on television-scale budgets.

You don’t need a large amount of money to innovate online, and the best research and development comes after launch, because you can see how users are using it, and what they tell you they want it to do, or indeed what they build themselves for you.

So instead of funding to the hilt a dozen or so ideas that have to jump through several on-paper hoops to prove their theoretical viability, I would suggest this: spread small amounts of innovation funding wider across 100 pilot projects, and see how they jump through real-life hoops instead.

Projects that jump through those hoops could perhaps then apply to a second fund specifically aimed at the separate problem of scalability. I can speak from experience that running a pilot project gives you a much stronger sense of what you’ll need to do to scale up, than doing the same exercise on paper.

This second fund could even provide rapid access to servers or customer support staff or legal advice while the application is being considered (otherwise the customer experience becomes so bad that by the time funds are released, the project has no users left).

Separating funding innovation from funding scaling allows you to first fund projects that take bigger risks, and generate a bigger pool of innovators with experience of launching and managing an innovative product. And that leads on to the third point:

Support innovation, not projects

Every fund that I’ve been involved in neglected what could have been potentially their biggest value: the process itself of vetting applications and monitoring progress.

(It’s also the biggest source of resentment: there will always be accusations that funds are given to the ‘in-crowd’)

“Driving innovation” should go beyond “funding innovative projects”. Simply opening up the application process so that everyone can see how ideas develop – and what the ‘experts’ think about the detail of proposals – can help contribute to a culture of innovation. Seeing other great ideas being developed makes people feel a whole lot more innovative – and produce better ideas – than getting an opaque email saying “Proposal not accepted” and seeing a disappointing-on-the-surface winners’ list 5 months later.

For the funders this represents a lot of admin, but tough: that’s their job. And there are creative possibilities here: when you move the focus from funding innovative projects to supporting innovation you can start to broaden the focus towards building a network of innovators and aspiring innovators, towards creating a supportive ecology. That also spreads the costs, lowers risk, and increases benefits.

Ultimately, just as networked models are allowing us to revisit ways of doing things without physical limitations, the funding process should reflect that change too. It should be quicker, smaller scale, and more transparent.

March 08 2011

16:22

What should the Knight News Innovation Lab focus on in year one?

The Knight Lab has a generous four year funding stream to do work in the overlap of journalism and engineering. What should they do with it?

Options include:

  1. build new tools
  2. catalog, case study, and rate existing tools (Knight funded, perhaps)
  3. build platforms for others to build tools (contests, forums, hackathons etc)
  4. work to implement/improve existing tools in new settings
  5. lay low, build relationships and listen for a while
  6. connect resources to needs (students to newsrooms, for instance)
  7. facilitate newsrooms to make better tech decisions
  8. ???

...or some combination of the above. What are your thoughts?

Cheers, Jonathan

Background:

http://knightlab.northwestern.edu/faq.htm

Their self description:

"Responding to the critical need for dramatic improvements in the digital tools used by journalists and community news and information providers, Northwestern University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation have created the Knight News Innovation Laboratory at Northwestern.

The Knight News Innovation Laboratory will develop both existing and new digital technologies aimed at better informing and serving local communities and work to deploy them in partnership with a wide variety of media enterprises. In doing so, the Innovation Lab will work with developers and media organizations to craft ways to make these technologies best fit their needs and those of their communities.

The overall goal of the Knight News Innovation Laboratory will be to dramatically accelerate the deployment and adoption of new media and information technologies to inform local communities, and to foster the development of communities of innovation. As part of this effort, the Innovation Lab will create an ecosystem of innovation and development in partnership with local media organizations and nurture a set of self-sustaining communities built around the relationships among these organizations, the developers involved in innovating for them, and the technologies themselves."

Tags: funding

December 09 2010

19:15

J-Schools Shift from Learning Labs to Major Media Players

news21 small.jpg

Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

In June 2006, I published "On Behalf of Journalism: A Manifesto for Change." It examined nine propositions likely to have an effect on the future of journalism, and culminated in a number of recommendations. They focused on the role of corporations, the rise of not-for-profit media, the responsibilities of journalists, the role of government and of the public, and what was called (rather lamely, it seems in retrospect) "new forms of media."

Over the ensuing years, I have reexamined the Manifesto in light of the fast-moving changes in media and -- most recently -- with an eye toward what it might offer journalism education. (You can read my latest version of by downloading this PDF. The 2008 version is also available here in PDF.)

In pondering this new application for the Manifesto, I am struck by how powerfully two of its themes in particular resound in the world of journalism education. First, as legacy media are hollowed out by the collapse of their economic model, educational institutions are playing a far more powerful role in helping to meet the information needs of the public.

Second, the journalism academy is a key player in the search for new economic models for journalism. A myriad of new economic possibilities has appeared, from micropayments, pay walls and search-related advertising to methods that enable news consumers to opt-in to pay.

A Greater Role for Non-profits

Perhaps the most striking change for journalism schools is the degree to which we have shifted from being learning labs whose actual journalism (if any) was limited in its distribution and impact, to being significant -- even major -- media players in our communities. This is not to ignore substantial local news outlets such as at the Missouri School of Journalism, which has long operated in Columbia, Mo., on television, radio, newspaper and magazine platforms. Nonetheless, it is clear that in journalism schools across the United States major projects are increasingly making substantial contributions toward filling the holes left by the hollowing out of local "legacy" media.

In their October 19, 2009, report, "The Reconstruction of American Journalism," Len Downie (former executive editor of the Washington Post) and scholar Michael Schudson cataloged numerous ways in which colleges and universities are contributing to independent local news reporting, from the southern Florida alliance of newspapers using work from Florida International University to Northeastern University students' investigative reports appearing in the Boston Globe.

Screen shot 2010-12-09 at 9.26.18 AM.pngSimilarly, the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism is a partner, along with the New York Times, in the Bay Citizen, whose content appears in the Bay Area edition of the Times. New York University's collaboration with the New York Times, The Local - East Village, appears on the newspaper's website and includes coverage of the university's immediate neighborhood.

In a speech at our school, USC Annenberg, Schudson said that "more journalism schools are going into the business of actually producing journalism." Our work mirrors several of the above-mentioned models. Neon Tommy, the voice of Annenberg Digital News, is our own web-based report, including content from classes (on science, for example, or religion) original work from the Neon Tommy staff (revealing swine flu deaths covered up by county officials) and collaborations with KPCC and with the Los Angeles Times in its Homicide Report, which focuses on documenting the lives of murder victims. Other projects have been completed in collaboration the Center for Investigative Reporting and California Watch, and appeared in the Los Angeles Times, KQED and newspapers across California.

Increased Role for Schools

So, a great deal of work is being done by journalism schools in meeting the public's need for high quality information. But what are the particular contributions of the academy? We are seeking to answer that question, too, at USC Annenberg. For example, a project based in the city of Alhambra seeks to identify how a community incorporating different language groups can come together to solve civic challenges. The Alhambra Source is a community news website that aims to bolster civic engagement in measurable ways. Researchers, led by professor Sandra Ball-Rokeach, worked in Alhambra for two years before building a site tailored to the community's specific information needs. Among the program's goals is to build a model for local media outlets in ethnically diverse communities.

"Reproducing some of the journalism of the past is not necessarily a high value activity for J-schools," said Donica Mensing, associate professor at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. "For this work to have value, the standards, organization, editing and networking of new models must be incorporated into the creation and distribution of the journalism. We owe it to students and to the health of the discipline to push for new skills and mindsets for the future, and avoid absorbing all energy into reproducing work we already know how to do."

Interestingly, this increased role for journalism schools -- providing more journalism to a public ever more in need of information in the public interest, while having a greater impact, more notice and more influence -- raises its own questions for the university. How do you report "without fear or favor" from within an institution that emphasizes collegiality and must balance such contending interests as protecting student privacy, raising money and burnishing community relations? Independence is one of the central values of ethical reporting. Carving out that independence within the university will not come easily.

Economic Support for Journalism

News corporations have experienced substantial economic shock, with several newspaper companies in bankruptcy, many newspapers having folded, and the remaining ones undergoing round after round of severe cuts. Yet the need for those who provide the news to keep an eye primarily on the public interest has not gone away; rather, it has been distributed. There are now multitudes of news providers. How they do their work, and what principles they hold dear, continues to matter greatly.

This opens two interesting arenas for journalism schools. One is the need for research on new economic models to supplement -- some would say replace -- the models that have been collapsing as the barrier to publication has fallen and new ways of advertising have arisen. This is a center of significant activity in the journalism academy. The City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism has a New Business Models for News Project under the leadership of Jeff Jarvis that conducts experiments and research about revenue possibilities for news.

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Similarly, Arizona State University's Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, directed by Dan Gillmor, seeks to teach ASU students entrepreneurial thinking and skills for the new media environment they'll be entering.

At USC, our research and experimentation has led us in several directions. We joined with the Knight Foundation to bring to Los Angeles the Spot.us model born in the Bay Area, which seeks to test the notion of crowdfunded journalism. Another important part of the equation is foundation support. Annenberg's Center on Health Reporting is funded entirely by the California HealthCare Foundation. Being part of a foundation-funded start-up provides invaluable experience in the challenges of protecting journalistic independence in this very different funding environment.

Moving from experimentation with new funding models to creating an environment of entrepreneurship for our students, we ran last summer a two-week, fellowship-supported experiment in collaboration with USC's business and engineering schools, bringing together our own journalism students with students from those two disciplines to develop news applications for mobile phones.

Meanwhile, Annenberg has also launched an Innovation Lab, supported by corporate contributions, enabling the research and development of new ways of providing information and new ways of supporting it.

As this new world of widely varying funding models emerges, new ethical challenges arise. The journalism academy will be essential to solving these effectively. For example: It is widely agreed that a key ethic of the new media environment is transparency. If news consumers can identify the sources of funding, for instance, of a given information outlet, they have an invaluable piece of information in judging its credibility.

Yet J-Lab's Jan Schaffer said recently that she is finding many foundation funders reluctant to be cited publicly as supporters of these new media outlets. Clearly new media forms require new ethical formulations, and the academy has a role here. The University of Wisconsin-Madison recently sponsored a symposium on ethics that included a look at donors, non-profit journalism and new investigative models. It issued a report on ethics for the new investigative newsroom. (See the PDF link within the preceding URL).

Conclusion

My review draws one clear conclusion: In the old media world, with its top-down monopolistic configuration, the problems were there to be solved by a relatively few people operating in a rigid environment. Most of those challenges are pretty much the same: It's a constant struggle to keep the public's information needs at the center of our thinking. It's unclear how we will pay for high-quality journalism. Those doing journalism (or in any way serving the public's information needs) must be held accountable.

But if the problems remain identical, they now rest in the hands of multitudes. For good and for ill, the old challenges are newly distributed throughout the population, and the solutions -- if and when they come -- will come from the many rather than the few. It's a more unsettling prospect than the familiar world of controlling monopolies and rigidly fixed patterns. It is also, in my view, a more promising one.

Geneva Overholser is a professor and director of the journalism school at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. Previously, she held the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting for the Missouri School of Journalism, where she was based in the school's Washington bureau. She was editor of the Des Moines Register from 1988 to 1995, where she led the paper to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. While at the Register, she also earned recognition as Editor of the Year by the National Press Foundation and was named "The Best in the Business" by American Journalism Review.
She has been a columnist for the Columbia Journalism Review and frequent contributor to Poynter.org. She is co-editor, with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, of the volume "The Press," part of the Oxford University Press Institutions of American Democracy series.

news21 small.jpg

Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

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November 16 2010

19:44

How Spot.Us Doubled Its Grant Money with Community-Focused Ads

There are many things that excite me about Spot.Us. One in particular, which I believe is part of our pathway to sustainability is "community-focused sponsorship" (CFS). It is the main thrust of my fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. My evolving view of advertising is becoming a passionate topic.

In some respects CFS gave me a needed shot of adrenaline into the Spot.Us project. If I'm not pushing boundaries and trying something new, I get bored. To date I still know of no other media entity trying anything exactly like it.

So what is community-focused sponsorship?
The quick version: We sell the sponsoring organization a form of engagement on our site (a quiz, survey, etc). Anyone who engages with the sponsor gets a slice of our sponsorship budget. They decide where the funds go. The sponsor gets the anonymized information from community members. Each side creates value for the other. Give it a whirl thanks to HP Partners PCRush.com. (To read more about the genesis of the idea, check out this blog post.)

When I first came up with the idea I approached the Harnisch Foundation for support. This is a foundation that considers news and information, among others, a priority. Bless their journalistic hearts. More-over they are interested in finding new models of sustainability. Bless their bold hearts.

When I told them about community-focused sponsorship I made a bold claim that, in truth, I wasn't 100 percent sure I could deliver on. I told them I could double the money they gave Spot.Us. I asked for $15,000. They gave us $20,000.

I'm happy to announce that not only did we double up on this larger figure, we've made $7,250, to spare -- for a total of $47,250.

What happened to the money?

Some of it went toward developing the infrastructure of our model. We already had a credit system on Spot.Us, but the database structure needed to be cleaned and a user-interface created, etc. I'll spare you the geekery so much as to say, it took some work, but it wasn't insane thanks to early thinking about our credit system and the fine work of CTO Erik Sundelof.

Some was used to prime the pump. When we got our first sponsorship from FreePress.net, we added some of our funds to extend the sponsorship. We even created a few of our own surveys/quizzes.

A worst case scenario of the Harnisch grant would have been if we had not sold any sponsorships. In that case -- this would be like many other grants that fund content -- except instead of deciding how the funds would get spent internally, Spot.Us was looking to engage community members to make that decision. Still worth it in my humble opinion. Whereas most non-profit news organizations that get grants decide internally (the publisher makes the call) how to spend the money, we looked to the community.

I triple-dog-dare any major non-profit news organization to take a little of their foundation budget on the side and let the community vote on how it should be spent. (Oh no he didn't just bust a triple-dog-dare!)

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So how did we double up?

Talking about money is never easy for me. I am a natural salesperson, but when it comes down to the closing and to put up a dollar figure, I wince. As Brad Flora will attest, you need somebody who can make the sales-kill. I'm learning.

Somehow I've managed to sell a few sponsorships.

Mortgage Revolution (our first) gave us $6,000 to get us started. That was quickly distributed. 

FreePress did two sponsorships with us for $1,000 each (we matched it with $2,000 from the Harnisch grant). 

AARP gave us two sponsorships totaling out at of $4,500.

> The Aspen Institute, marketing the Knight Commission report on news and information needs of communities, did a sponsorship for $1,000 (also matched by a Harnisch grant).

Clay Shirky did a speaking gig and was given the chance to make a donation to the non-profit of his choice. He chose Spot.Us but instead of keeping the money, we distributed it via a sponsorship model.

We did a focused survey for Way Out West News. The bootstrapped operation gave us $250. Because they are a news organization starting out and the survey was in line with Spot.Us' mission -- we subsidized it with $500.

And finally the biggie. HP Partners did a whopping $10,000 sponsorship! The main partner benefactor of the sponsorship so far has been PCRush.com.

Total: $28,750 raised for journalism.

That is ALL money that goes towards reporting (Spot.us did start taking a commission near the end -- details below). These funds are unlocked a few dollars at a time by community members (roughly 5,600 acts of engagement). That's 5,600 choices made by members of the public to support independent reporting. That might not be earth-shattering in page views, but in terms of engagement it's huge. The average amount of time spent on a survey is 2:45 (much more valuable than a banner advert).

Total spent from the original Harnisch grant?
Six thousand on development and just over six thousand on sponsorships.

Remaining in the Harnisch budget - $8,000
(so I might be able to turn the original 20k into more).

Unexpected

The extra funds from Clay Shirky was unexpected. And I'll be honest with you -- there was a fair amount of time I considered not giving it away via community-focused sponsorship, but instead saving the money for an organizational rainy day (see my triple-dog-dare above).

Even without those funds Spot.Us still would have doubled-up its original investment from Harnisch.

When I spoke with Clay to get his permission to publicly distribute the funds he brought up an important point -- that this model shouldn't be about Push/Push advertising. The sponsored engagement shouldn't dangle the $5 above a community member's head and make them jump through an annoying hoop. This, in the long run, will isolate Spot.Us from its community members. As we get larger and more corporate sponsors (fingers crossed) this will have to be something we really "push" back on -- pardon the pun.

Since Clay didn't have anything specific to sell, although you should buy his book, he let us do whatever we wanted with his sponsorship. Keeping in mind his suggestion -- we asked folks for their view on objectivity in journalism. The idea is that we a) genuinely wanted to know; b) this is a stimulating conversation/question; and c) once we got responses we could turn around and share their aggregated answers creating value back for the the collective community. See: "What the Spot.Us community thinks of objectivity in journalism."

This final analysis became another selling point we did not anticipate. When I showed it to Free Press, now on their second sponsorship, they wanted a similar analysis. On that note: here's what the Spot.Us community thinks of public media.

In both cases the analysis became a topic of discussion in the Twittersphere and beyond. Here were REAL numbers based on REAL responses from people who were asking and answering difficult questions. That it funded independent media was icing on the cake from the sponsors' perspective.

In some respects we are doing what Pew Center for Journalism does -- in a less scientific and faster way. As organizations will constantly need to keep a finger on the pulse of things -- I think our sponsorship model will be a way they can do that and support journalism at the same time. (I also double-dog dare Pew to sponsor a survey on Spot.Us.)

Obstacles

I still don't have a sales team. It's just me emailing people I meet or know.

I am confident this sponsorship model sells, but it doesn't sell itself -- somebody has to be there to make the phone calls and talk people through it.

What next?

Sell more sponsorships any way I can -- without falling into the push/pull trap mentioned above. I think that would be a death-spiral.

We hope to create an affiliate model whereby anyone can sell a sponsorship and earn a commission. I am in talks with Sacramento Press to be the first to try this out. They have a sales team (mostly does local) and if they can sell a sponsorship, I will gladly let them keep a healthy commission.

I also believe that this sponsorship model could be a way to bring in foundation support outside of the traditional foundations that support journalism. It is great that Knight, MacArthur, Patterson, McCormick, Harnisch and other foundations support journalism (they should triple-dog dare their large grantees to let the community decide as well). I believe that by sponsoring quizzes and surveys about topics of interest to them -- we can get more foundations interested in journalism. A foundation that supports child education might not ever see funding independent journalism as high on their priority list. At best they would support journalism about children's education, which, while well-intentioned, misses the point of independent reporting that reflects a community's issues -- instead of trying to dictate concerns.

Through this model that foundation could raise awareness on issues of child education, getting feedback and educating the public and at the same time support independent reporting. it would be icing on the cake.

Finally: We are taking steps on Spot.Us to emphasize the community-focused sponsorships and de-emphasize donating from an individuals own bank account. With our HP sponsorships there are more funds to distribute than we can with our current audience size. It may turn out to be a bad idea. We might realize that by de-emphasizing donations we are leaving money on the table. But so far people have reacted very positively and we should give people more opportunities to support reporting without having to whip out their wallet. We won't remove the ability to donate funds -- it just won't be the first option people see. Rather, they will see the option to earn credits until all those options have been completed.

(UPDATE: The above paragraph turned into a failed experiment, people complained, we reversed).

UPDATE #2: Spot.Us has always said that commission would be "optional and transparent." Well, now it's just transparent. We take 5 percent out of every community-focused sponsorship. Which means when you earn $5 in credits and you start to donate $4.71 goes to the pitch of your choice and .29 goes to Spot.Us. Hey, can you blame us? If so -- let us know in the comments.

We also need to build out the types of engagements we can produce. We started by mimicking parts of a Google Form. We still can't do everything Google Forms offers. But we will get there. There are tons of potential engagement opportunities we could build.

November 11 2010

15:01

Nominate a Developer Working Towards Social Change for this Year's Pizzigati Prize

Nominations are now open for the fifth annual awarding of the $10,000 Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest, an award aimed at software developers working with nonprofits to help forge innovative social change. The prize welcomes applications from — and nominations of — single individuals who have demonstrated leadership in the field of public interest software. 

Prize criteria:

read more

October 25 2010

18:25

5 Ways to Improve the Non-Profit Journalism Hub

The Voice of San Diego, one of the oldest of the new guard of non-profit news orgs that have been popping up, has teamed up with some academics from San Diego State University to launch The Hub, a handy database of information about non-profit community news organizations. If you're looking to start your own non-profit news org or want to learn more about what's already out there, this is the place to start. 

Megan Garber over at NiemanLab has a detailed rundown on the who's and what's involved.


I'm a big fan of things that solve problems, and The Hub clearly does that. Voice of San Diego CEO Scott Lewis told Garber the site was created in response to "many, many occasions in which VOSD execs and editors found themselves fielding requests for consulting and advice from people hoping to start their own non-profit news sites."

I spent some time cruising around and think it shows a lot of promise. I've also got five ideas for how it could be made even better and more useful.

Inside The Hub

The piece that I'm most interested in is the simple directory of existing non-profit news orgs that The Hub has put into motion. This is a great idea. Structured directories are almost always awesome. The Hub's directory is pretty simple, currently listing just 13 organizations that qualify as non-profit, community-based news organizations. All the big players you usually read about in stories are there: New Haven Independent, Texas Tribune, Bay Citizen, etc. Each profile page includes a quick rundown on the org's background and then a short Q and A with someone from the organization answering basic questions about its goals and origins.

It might not sound like much, but this is really useful stuff for people looking to learn more about this area. That said, there are a few ways these profiles could be improved on to make the site as a whole much more useful:

  1. More structured data -- I'd love to see The Hub focus more on structured data over narrative. The interviews I read were fairly interesting, but the ability to take in all the important details about an organization at a glance is more valuable than the ability to read a Q & A that may or may not contain the same information. What I'd love to see would be for The Hub to borrow a page from CrunchBase in how all the data is structured and links to clickable search results. An emphasis on getting more structured data would be a bigger win than getting more narrative info on these profile pages.
  2. Funding information -- The biggest piece of structured data missing is the funding for each organization. As a reader, I want to know how much funding each news org has received so far and what the source of it is. From my own reading, I know that there's a vast disparity in funding levels between some of these organizations. Visitors need to be able to see this at a glance so they can put the rest of the information into the proper context.
  3. Rundown on key personnel -- Similarly, the structured data for each news org should include the names of the top editors and the publisher of each organization. These pages could link to "people" pages on The Hub, or they could just link out to LinkedIn profiles or Twitter accounts. Either way, people will want to know who's in charge at these news orgs so they can get a better sense of what they're doing and how they're doing it.
  4. Subscriber/follower counts for social media accounts -- The Hub's profile pages helpfully link out to the social media accounts for each news organization. What they don't tell you, however, is how many followers that news organization has right now. This might seem like a small thing, but it could actually be very useful information if acquired automatically. It would be great to be able to rank non-profit news orgs based on how many followers they have on Twitter, or by number of fans on Facebook, for example.
  5. Info on how freelancers can pitch them and how interested parties can support them -- My final suggestion would be for The Hub's profile pages to prominently include information aimed at freelancers looking to learn more about how to pitch non-profit news organizations and for fans and avid readers looking for how to support these new enterprises and their work. These are two use cases I think will be pretty common among visitors to The Hub and they don't appear to be addressed specifically on the profile pages.

The Hub is a useful project off to a great start. People working on the edges of journalism need more projects like these that give shape and voice to what's happening in the field. I look forward to seeing how this develops.

October 06 2010

13:15

Trust, mobile, and money: New focal points (and hints for applicants) for the new Knight News Challenge

For the first time, this year’s Knight News Challenge will be requesting entries in three specific categories: mobile, revenue models, and reputation/credibility. The contest judges won’t be seeking a certain quota of finalists in each category: “It’s much more of a signal to the population at large: These are the areas that need your attention,” Knight consultant Jennifer 8. Lee said on Monday, at a San Francisco information session sponsored by Hacks/Hackers.

Up to now, Lee said the Knight Foundation’s attitude towards the contest has been “we don’t know what news innovation is — you tell us.” But over the past four years, trends have emerged among the contest entries that mirror the broader development of the news business. 2010 was the year of mapping and data visualization projects, Lee said. In 2011, Knight sees innovations in credibility determination, mobile technology, and revenue model generation as key areas of development.

Credibility in the news business used to be based on the brand reputation of large media outlets. But in a world in which anyone can report, and in which, in Lee’s words, rumors can explode and die within a day on Twitter, there’s a need for new ways to measure and establish credibility. For example, Lee said, “How do you know that this person is more serious reporting out of Tehran, or Iran, than that person?” In the world of online media, rumors can gain momentum more quickly and easily than in the traditional media ecosystem. What kinds of tools and filters could be used to combat hoaxes and determine the trustworthiness of online information? That third category is “the one that’s the most vague — and purposefully so,” Lee said.

The mobile and revenue models categories are more straightforward. Last year, the Chicago news site Windy Citizen won $250,000 to develop a software interface to creates “real-time ads” which constantly update with the most recent information from a business’ Twitter feed or Facebook page. Lee said this was a good example of a revenue model project.

The Knight News Challenge is also increasingly open to awarding funding to for-profit companies who want to build open-source projects. Last cycle, one of the grantees was Stamen Design, a top data visualization firm whose founder and employees had a proven commitment to making open source tools in their free time. Knight provided them with $400,000 to dedicate staff hours to projects that they would previously have done on weekends. There are many different ways of making Knight funding viable for for-profit companies, Lee said, so long as the companies can carefully document how the foundation funding is being applied to open-source work. “You can create the open-sourcey version of your project. That part becomes open source, and the other one doesnt,” Lee said. In order to open funding to for-profit companies, “Knight has been really, really creative with the IRS,” Lee said. The foundation has been adapting statutes originally designed to encourage affordable housing development and applying them to open source news projects.

Last year, out of 2,300 initial applications, the Knight Foundation ultimately made 12 grants totaling about $3 million. Lee and two successful News Challenge grantees explained what factors make a project a strong contender—and what pitfalls lead to an early rejection.

— Your project should already have a working prototype. When the creators of Davis Wiki (which the Lab has been following for a while) applied for grant funding to expand their project, they weren’t just pitching a concept. They could point judges to a thriving local website which collects community insight and serves as an open forum for residents to deal with everything from scam artists to lost kittens.

As LocalWiki’s Philip Neustrom explained, one in seven people in Davis, Calif., have contributed material to Davis Wiki, and in a week “basically half” of the city’s residents visit the site. This June, Davis Wiki made The New York Times when residents used the site to assemble information about a local scam artist, the “Crying Girl.”

Neustrom and Mike Ivanov co-founded Davis Wiki in 2004. So by the time they were applying for a 2010 KNC grant, they already had a mature, well-developed site to demonstrate the viability of what they were planning to do.

— Your project should be sustainable. Knight doesn’t want the projects they fund to wither away as soon as the grant money runs out. In the case of LocalWiki, what may be the best proof of their sustainability was actually made after they won Knight funding. Their recent Kickstarter campaign, which closed last month, raised $26,324 for outreach and education work, and 98 percent of that came from Davis community members, Neustrom said. Davis residents helped raise money by organizing a dance party, a silent auction, and fundraising nights at a bar — evidence that future LocalWiki sites will be able to build grassroots support.

— Your project should be catalytic. As a project reviewer, Lee said she looks for ideas that will catalyze development in a larger area. That means not just having a proven concept, but having one that’s scalable and that brings innovation to an area that needs attention.

Out of 2,300 applicants last year, only 500 were asked to provide a full proposal, and 50 of those became finalists. In the final round, Lee said, there was a lot of consensus between the judges about what projects were ultimately promising. The judges were allowed to apportion their votes between different projects, and 28 of the 50 got no votes, Lee said. Among the common problems with proposals:

— Don’t ask Knight to fund content. Lee said the KNC receives many proposals for, say, money to start a hyperlocal blog in North Carolina. But while the idea of a hyperlocal blog was innovative five or six years ago, Lee said, “at this point, it’s no longer cutting edge. The point of the Knight News Challenge is to encourage innovation, creativity.”

— Don’t apply with projects that don’t fit Knight’s mission. As with any contest, some projects try to shoehorn themselves into an inappropriate category for the sake of funding. A grant to do a project using SMS to provide health information in Africa, for example, would be “too specific to be interesting to the Knight News Challenge,” Lee said.

— Don’t be vague. For example: applying to create “a news aggregator.”

— Avoid generic citizen journalism projects. Say a group wanted to take Flip cams and give them to inner city kids as an experiment in citizen journalism. “We’re not totally into the citizen journalism thing anymore,” Lee said. “It has been given its chance to do its thing and kind of didn’t do its thing that well.”

— Have the credibility to make the project work. An applicant may have a good idea for an innovative project, but he or she also has to have the experience and credibility to actually pull it off. One tip-off that credibility is lacking? If he or she asks for an amount of grant funding that’s disproportional to the realistic needs of the project.

[Disclosure: Both Knight Foundation and Lee have been financial supporters of the Lab.]

September 14 2010

11:38

Knight Foundation gives $3.14m to local media projects

Niche and hyperlocal news sites in the US are to receive $3.14 million in funding from the Knight Foundation as part of its Community Information Challenge.

The money will be divided up into grants aimed at encouraging greater investment in media-related projects by community foundations, whose funding is matched by Knight.

Receivers of the grants this year will include the Alaska Community Foundation for the Alaska Public Telecommunications project which hosts hyperlocal blogs and virtual community ‘think-tanks’ on issues such as arts and culture; ACCESS News, a website for the deaf community and West Anniston Today in Alabama, which reports on industrial pollution in that area.

The full list of community foundations and supported projects can be found here.

Hatip: paidCotentSimilar Posts:



August 18 2010

16:01

What grants/funding opportunities are our there for Hacks/Hackers to apply to?

I'm kind of surprised this site doesn't already host a comprehensive list of possible grants and other funding opportunities for all intrepid Hacks/Hackers, but if there's interest I'll put all the opportunities and deadlines in a public Google Calendar.

What grants do you know about?

Tags: grants funding

June 02 2010

16:18

Help @NewsHour Keep Hosting the SpillCam

Hi Folks,

As many of you know, PBS NewsHour and NPR have been hosting a live video feed from BP of the broken Deepwater Horizon well. As you might guess, this is enormously expensive. We're currently using NPR's Akamai account, but the cost is starting to get beyond our ability to pay.

So, I'm asking folks here for help finding a better way. Is there a better hosting solution for live, streaming video? Or, would your news organization like to partner with us to help keep the feed alive.

This literally needs to be solved today (as in, June 2, 2010).

Please contact me (eyeseast at gmail / camico at newshour dot org) if you think you can help or have any ideas.

April 30 2010

16:34

Donors, non-profit journalism and new investigative models

The second session at the New Journalism, New Ethics? conference at UW Madison looked at the ethical issues in creating and operating non-profit investigative newsrooms.

The session was based on a report, “Ethics for the New Investigative Newsroom” (PDF). The report looked at issues such as who is an acceptable donor and how to safeguard editorial independence.

The director for Center for Journalism Ethics at UW-Madison, Stephen Ward, introduced the session by providing a broad overview of the challenges, such as the relationships with donors.

“The take-home message was that you have to defend the integrity of the journalism,” he stressed. While these issues have existed for years, Ward said they are forming in new and different ways.

Andy Hall followed up with his experience as executive director and reporter at non-profit start-up Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

So far, most of its $350,000 funding has come from large, out of state groups. But Hall questioned about what issues might arise when seeking funds from local donors, who might also be the focus of investigations.

The Center already lists the identity of its donors and will be posting its fund-raising policy on its website.

Hall said the Center had decided not to accept money from political officials or parties, or from people whose reputation could harm it integrity.

Transparency and credibility

Brant Houston of the Knight Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at the University of Illinois followed up by stressing the importance of transparency on funding and spending.

This was key to the credibility of a journalism non-profit.

Houston talked about being transparent not just about where the money was coming from, but also what you were spending your money on.

He also raised the issue of government funding, noting that many media organisations outside the US take official funding and yet feel able to criticise the government.

View from foundations

Carol Toussaint,  foundation executive and member of non-profit boards, Madison, Wisconsin, offered a different perspective.

She looked at it from the viewpoint of foundations, explaining how funders have been providing funds for years and have their own best practices.

Foundations see themselves as change agents, said Toussaint, similar to journalism non-profits. She urged journalists to talk to foundations and get to know them.

But she cautioned about taking too much from one donor.

Back to credibility

The view from the journalism practitioner came from Martin Kaiser, editor and senior vice president, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Kaiser recalled how when he started in journalism, it was a one-way street. He talked about how the news landscape had become increasingly fractured and politicised.

He also stressed the importance of credibility.

“The credibility of the news room and what we’re putting out have never been more important,” he said.

April 15 2010

20:01

The NetSquared Challenge Model: An Interview with Marnie Webb

Case FoundationEach year, we hold a NetSquared Challenge to mine, profile and accelerate technologically innovative projects focused on social change. Recently, the Case Foundation interviewed Marnie Webb, our co-CEO, about the challenge process, opportunities and impacts.

read more

January 29 2010

23:50

4 Minute Roundup: iPad Mania; Yelp Scores $100 Million

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

Here's the latest 4MR audio report from MediaShift. In this week's edition, I look at the hype and reality around the latest device from Apple, the iPad. While some have slammed it for what it's missing, it's too early to tell how media companies might use it to sell their content. Plus, Yelp gets up to $100 million from Elevation Partners, helping some employees cash out without an IPO. And I ask Just One Question to Google News' Josh Cohen about whether Google should have started working with publishers sooner.

Check it out:

4mrbareaudio12910.mp3

>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

8 Things That Suck About the iPad at Gizmodo

The Anti-Hype - Why Apple's iPad Disappoints at Mashable

The Apple iPad - First Impressions at NY Times

Can iPad save media? Skeptics weigh in at Reflections of a Newsosaur

Debating the merits of Apple's iPad at News.com

Can Apple's iPad Save the Media After All? at Wired Epicenter

Taking A Deeper Look At Media's Appetite For The iPad at PaidContent

Does Apple's IPad Take a Bite Out of Web Advertising? at AdAge

The iPad Is a Multimedia Device. So Where Are the Media? Be Patient. at MediaMemo

Will the iPad Help Media? Possibly. Save Media? No. at GigaOm

Elevation Partners giving Yelp a boost at SF Chronicle

Yelp Taking Big Investment From Elevation Partners at TechCrunch

Yelp Gets Up to $100 Million From Elevation Partners at BusinessWeek

Three's A Trend - First Facebook, Then Zynga, Now Yelp at WSJ

Google Now Collecting Local Reviews From Non-Traditional Sources at Search Engine Land

Google Maps Now Adding Reviews from News Sites, Hyperlocal Blogs and Other Non Traditional Review Sources at Understanding Google Maps

Here's a graphical view of the most recent MediaShift survey results. The question was: "What do you think about Google's intent to run an uncensored site in China?"

survey grab china.jpg

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about the iPad:


What do you think about the Apple iPad?(poll)

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

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January 19 2010

18:34

5 Recent Big Moves In Hyper-Local News

The pace of change for hyper-local news sites and related businesses is dizzying.
It's hard to keep up, especially if you try to pay attention to business moves made by large players, as well as innovations that bubble up from local, independent news sites.

This year already began with large companies and investors making moves into hyper-local news. At the same time, experiments with foundation money continued, such as J-Lab's Networked News project. J-Lab also announced another request for proposals for grants for community news startups with a deadline of March 1, and proposals that support or create local news sites have advanced into the second round of the Knight News Challenge. Winners will be announced in June.

A key source for information on the big business moves in local news sites is paidContent.org, which focuses on the business of digital media.
And if you are looking for analysis and trends among independent sites, a great source is Michele McLellan, a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. McLellan is researching community news startups, civic engagement and community building. She also writes for the Knight Digital Media Center's leadership blog and is @michelemclellan on Twitter.

With change coming at such a rapid pace, it's important to take stock of some of the most notable developments from recent weeks and months. Here are the five biggest recent moves in hyper-local news.

Datasphere raised $10.8 million

Datasphere, the company that has helped Fisher Communications of the Seattle area set up and sell a network of hyper-local news sites to compete with local bloggers, announced it has raised $10.8 million in funding. That number is large compared with the common figures of $1 million or $2 million for other local news ventures, and Datasphere's approach stirred up resentment among local, independent bloggers. Datasphere's website also details partnerships with Cowles Media for a hyper-local network in the Monterey and Santa Barbara markets in California, and with Fisher Communications in Portland and Eugene, Ore.

Outside.in raised $7 million

Outside.in, the hyper-local aggregator of blogs and other news sources, also raised a large chunk of money: $7 million in Series B funding, announced in early December. CNN took a stake in the company and will feature feeds from Outside.in on its website, using Outside.in for Publishers. The aggregator, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., also has agreements with other publishers to provide feeds to their sites. In addition, Outside.in is hiring, and has a new community manager active on Twitter who is sharing and soliciting information from local sites.

U.S. Local partners with L.A. Times

The U.S. Local News Network is partnering with the Los Angeles Times for its third local site, covering Orange County. The companies will cross-sell ads and share content. U.S. Local News Network staffers will work out of the Times office in Costa Mesa, according to the paper. For more background, check paidContent's in-depth reporting on the network, which plans to roll out to 40 more cities during the next two years. The president of the company is Chris Jennewein, former online head of the San Diego Union Tribune. His experience includes time with Greenspun Interactive, Knight Ridder, including the San Jose Mercury News and the Mercury Center, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The New York Times partners with CUNY

The New York Times is expanding its collaboration with City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism". CUNY will now assume day-to-day editorial leadership of The Local, the Times' community website serving residents of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, N.Y. Journalism school faculty will serve as editors and work with students to enlist residents to cover news.

The work is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the McCormick Tribune Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Another Times Local site serving Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange, N.J., remains under the Times. Founding editor Tina Kelley was among the journalists who took a buyout from the Times in December. Replacing her is Lois Desocio, a local resident who recently received her master's in journalism from CUNY.

Patch.com expands recruiting

Patch.com, a startup of networked hyper-local sites bought by AOL in May 2009, has listed job postings for regional publishers in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., editorships in California, and other positions in Boston and Chicago.

AOL bought Patch.com for about $7 million. At the time, Patch had five hyper-local sites in its network. In October 2009, "Patch announced ambitious expansion plans for New York state": http://paidcontent.org/article/419-aols-patch-plans-big-new-york-expansion/, launching sites in Long Island and Westchester County.

Andria Krewson is a freelance journalist and consultant from Charlotte, N.C. She has worked at newspapers for 27 years, focusing on design and editing of community niche publications. She blogs for her neighborhood at Under Oak and covers changing culture at Crossroads Charlotte. Twitter: underoak

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