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?

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The Future of the Fourth Estate

  1. 1. The Future of the Fourth Estate Journalism is thriving.
  2. 2. The Future of the Fourth Estate Journalism is thriving. The business of news is not.
  3. 3. The Future of the Fourth Estate How can we fund the information we need for a functioning democracy?
  4. 4. Why do we need new models? • The Internet broke the connection between ads and journalism
  5. 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. 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. 7. Have you seen the Globe today? • New York Times Co. sold it for a fraction of what it paid in 1993
  8. 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. 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. 10. A golden age comes to an end • From 1830s to 2005, newspapers enjoyed advertising dominance
  11. 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. 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. 13. The decline of civic engagement • In “Bowling Alone,” Putnam tied civic life to newspaper reading
  14. 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. 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. 16. What is to be done? • Clay Shirky warns that no one thing will replace newspapers
  17. 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. 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. 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. 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. 21. Trouble in New Haven • New Haven Register’s parent company goes bankrupt
  22. 22. Trouble in New Haven • New Haven Register’s parent company goes bankrupt • An urban, mostly minority community with few news options
  23. 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. 24. Technology for journalists
  25. 25. A new model that’s working • New Haven Independent is nonprofit, online-only, supported by donors
  26. 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. 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. 28. Strengths of the Independent • Founder and editor Paul Bass isn’t reliant on a shrinking ad base
  29. 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. 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. 31. Weaknesses of the Independent • Small readership compared to the New Haven Register
  32. 32. Weaknesses of the Independent • Small readership compared to the New Haven Register • Uncertain funding in future years
  33. 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. 34. The Register’s uncertain comeback • Under John Paton, parent company JRC embraces “Digital First”
  35. 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. 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. 37. Other nonprofit media • Connecticut Mirror fills gap left by decline of the Hartford Courant
  38. 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. 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. 40. Limits to the nonprofit model • Foundations tend to give money for only a few years
  41. 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. 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. 43. New forms of for-profit news • Christine Stuart’s CT News Junkie covers Connecticut politics
  44. 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. 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. 46. Limits to the for-profit model • Digital dimes replace print dollars, reducing the scope of coverage
  47. 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. 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. 49. What’s next? • Tom Stites devised the Banyan Project to foster the rise of news co-ops
  50. 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. 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. 52. The day that everything changed • John Henry defines a new generation of media mogul
  53. 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. 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. 55. The day that everything changed Pierre Omidyar aims for something completely different with First Look Media
  56. 56. The return of the moguls • Newspaper companies couldn’t meet demands of Wall Street
  57. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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