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The Future of the Fourth Estate

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Journalism is thriving. The business of news is not. How can we fund the information we need for a functioning democracy?

Journalism is thriving. The business of news is not. How can we fund the information we need for a functioning democracy?


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  • 1. The Future of the Fourth Estate Journalism is thriving.
  • 2. The Future of the Fourth Estate Journalism is thriving. The business of news is not.
  • 3. The Future of the Fourth Estate How can we fund the information we need for a functioning democracy?
  • 4. Why do we need new models? • The Internet broke the connection between ads and journalism
  • 5. Why do we need new models? • The Internet broke the connection between ads and journalism • Civic engagement is on the decline in our highly mobile society
  • 6. Why do we need new models? • The Internet broke the connection between ads and journalism • Civic engagement is on the decline in our highly mobile society • Twin challenges: $$$ and reaching out to “the former audience”
  • 7. Have you seen the Globe today? • New York Times Co. sold it for a fraction of what it paid in 1993
  • 8. Have you seen the Globe today? • New York Times Co. sold it for a fraction of what it paid in 1993 • Moving from 80% of revenues coming from ads to a 50-50 split
  • 9. Have you seen the Globe today? • New York Times Co. sold it for a fraction of what it paid in 1993 • Moving from 80% of revenues coming from ads to a 50-50 split • Charging for online content remains a risky proposition
  • 10. A golden age comes to an end • From 1830s to 2005, newspapers enjoyed advertising dominance
  • 11. A golden age comes to an end • From 1830s to 2005, newspapers enjoyed advertising dominance • A.J. Liebling on monopoly papers: “good, better, bestest”
  • 12. A golden age comes to an end • From 1830s to 2005, newspapers enjoyed advertising dominance • A.J. Liebling on monopoly papers: “good, better, bestest” • Philip Meyer: The Lords of Savoy no longer control the toll gate
  • 13. The decline of civic engagement • In “Bowling Alone,” Putnam tied civic life to newspaper reading
  • 14. The decline of civic engagement • In “Bowling Alone,” Putnam tied civic life to newspaper reading • If the public doesn’t care, then journalism is endangered
  • 15. The decline of civic engagement • In “Bowling Alone,” Putnam tied civic life to newspaper reading • If the public doesn’t care, then journalism is endangered • News organizations must create their own involved publics
  • 16. What is to be done? • Clay Shirky warns that no one thing will replace newspapers
  • 17. What is to be done? • Clay Shirky warns that no one thing will replace newspapers • What may make up for some of the loss: – Nonprofit media – New forms of for-profit – Volunteer media
  • 18. What is to be done? • Clay Shirky warns that no one thing will replace newspapers • “The Wired City” takes a look at: – Nonprofit media – New forms of for-profit – Volunteer media
  • 19. What is to be done? • Clay Shirky warns that no one thing will replace newspapers • “The Wired City” takes a look at: – Nonprofit media – New forms of for-profit – Volunteer media
  • 20. What is to be done? • Clay Shirky warns that no one thing will replace newspapers • “The Wired City” takes a look at: – Nonprofit media – New forms of for-profit – Volunteer media
  • 21. Trouble in New Haven • New Haven Register’s parent company goes bankrupt
  • 22. Trouble in New Haven • New Haven Register’s parent company goes bankrupt • An urban, mostly minority community with few news options
  • 23. Trouble in New Haven • New Haven Register’s parent company goes bankrupt • An urban, mostly minority community with few news options • What alternatives are there when the marketplace fails?
  • 24. Technology for journalists
  • 25. A new model that’s working • New Haven Independent is nonprofit, online-only, supported by donors
  • 26. A new model that’s working • New Haven Independent is nonprofit, online-only, supported by donors • Staff of four travels city on bikes with cameras and notebooks
  • 27. A new model that’s working • New Haven Independent is nonprofit, online-only, supported by donors • Staff of four travels city on bikes with cameras and notebooks • Focus on city life, moderated comments create new public square
  • 28. Strengths of the Independent • Founder and editor Paul Bass isn’t reliant on a shrinking ad base
  • 29. Strengths of the Independent • Founder and editor Paul Bass isn’t reliant on a shrinking ad base • Online-only format means costs are low
  • 30. Strengths of the Independent • Founder and editor Paul Bass isn’t reliant on a shrinking ad base • Online-only format means costs are low • Hyperlocal content and two-way conversation build civic engagement
  • 31. Weaknesses of the Independent • Small readership compared to the New Haven Register
  • 32. Weaknesses of the Independent • Small readership compared to the New Haven Register • Uncertain funding in future years
  • 33. Weaknesses of the Independent • Small readership compared to the New Haven Register • Uncertain funding in future years • Lack of print presence may exclude residents who are less engaged
  • 34. The Register’s uncertain comeback • Under John Paton, parent company JRC embraces “Digital First”
  • 35. The Register’s uncertain comeback • Under John Paton, parent company JRC embraces “Digital First” • New Register editor Matt DeRienzo reaches out to community
  • 36. The Register’s uncertain comeback • Under John Paton, parent company JRC embraces “Digital First” • New Register editor Matt DeRienzo reaches out to community • Bankruptcy II could pave the way for a brighter digital future
  • 37. Other nonprofit media • Connecticut Mirror fills gap left by decline of the Hartford Courant
  • 38. Other nonprofit media • Connecticut Mirror fills gap left by decline of the Hartford Courant • Voice of San Diego is a reliable alternative to the shaky metro daily
  • 39. Other nonprofit media • Connecticut Mirror fills gap left by decline of the Hartford Courant • Voice of San Diego is a reliable alternative to the shaky metro daily • NPR is the quality news organization of choice for tens of millions
  • 40. Limits to the nonprofit model • Foundations tend to give money for only a few years
  • 41. Limits to the nonprofit model • Foundations tend to give money for only a few years • IRS put a halt to approving nonprofit status for news sites
  • 42. Limits to the nonprofit model • Foundations tend to give money for only a few years • IRS put a halt to approving nonprofit status for news sites • Nonprofit news organizations can’t endorse candidates
  • 43. New forms of for-profit news • Christine Stuart’s CT News Junkie covers Connecticut politics
  • 44. New forms of for-profit news • Christine Stuart’s CT News Junkie covers Connecticut politics • Howard Owens launched The Batavian as a demo project
  • 45. New forms of for-profit news • Christine Stuart’s CT News Junkie covers Connecticut politics • Howard Owens launched The Batavian as a demo project • Debbie Galant started Baristanet after losing her N.Y. Times column
  • 46. Limits to the for-profit model • Digital dimes replace print dollars, reducing the scope of coverage
  • 47. Limits to the for-profit model • Digital dimes replace print dollars, reducing the scope of coverage • Patch has given hyperlocal community news a bad reputation
  • 48. Limits to the for-profit model • Digital dimes replace print dollars, reducing the scope of coverage • Patch has given hyperlocal community news a bad reputation • Few have range of skills needed to handle journalism and business
  • 49. What’s next? • Tom Stites devised the Banyan Project to foster the rise of news co-ops
  • 50. What’s next? • Tom Stites devised the Banyan Project to foster the rise of news co-ops • Members would give money and/or labor, as with a food co-op
  • 51. What’s next? • Tom Stites devised the Banyan Project to foster the rise of news co-ops • Members would give money and/or labor, as with a food co-op • Banyan is launching a pilot in 2014 to be called Haverhill Matters
  • 52. The day that everything changed • John Henry defines a new generation of media mogul
  • 53. The day that everything changed • John Henry defines a new generation of media mogul • Jeff Bezos seeks to revive one of our great newspapers
  • 54. The day that everything changed • John Henry defines a new generation of media mogul • Jeff Bezos seeks to revive one of our great newspapers • Aaron Kushner heads to California to pursue a print-centric strategy
  • 55. The day that everything changed Pierre Omidyar aims for something completely different with First Look Media
  • 56. The return of the moguls • Newspaper companies couldn’t meet demands of Wall Street
  • 57. The return of the moguls • Newspaper companies couldn’t meet demands of Wall Street • Private wealth buys time as news business seeks new revenues
  • 58. The return of the moguls • Newspaper companies couldn’t meet demands of Wall Street • Private wealth buys time as news business seeks new revenues • Will the moguls spark a revival? Or will they just delay the inevitable?
  • 59. About the book • “The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age” was published in June 2013 by University of Massachusetts Press • Copyright © 2013 by Dan Kennedy • For more information, please visit: thewiredcity.org
  • 60. Dan Kennedy Northeastern University Boston, MA 02115 Some images in this presentation may be protected by copyright. If you would like credit, or if you would prefer that your image be removed, please contact Dan Kennedy at da dot kennedy at neu dot edu.