Paths to the new journalism


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Here's my presentation at NewComm Forum 2010: "Social and Entrepreneurial: The Paths to the New Journalism," a look at the fast-evolving journalism and social media landscape, the opportunities for new players, and why the old guard won't survive if they don't make significant changes to their corporate cultures.

Published in: News & Politics

Paths to the new journalism

  1. Social & Entrepreneurial: The paths to tomorrow’s journalism JD Lasica April 23, 2010
  2. Relax! Flickr photo “relaxation, the maldivian way” by notsogoodphotography (Creative Commons) (all sites in this talk have been tagged for later retrieval) Presentation at
  3. Today’s hashtag Creative Commons photo on Flickr by Prakhar Tweet this talk! Hashtag: #ncf10
  4. What we’ll cover today 2 simple propositions The new new news ecosystem • Social media overview & cultural norms • Rise of social media & impact on journalism Social journalism Entrepreneurial journalism • Innovation imperatives (take a page from Facebook) • New skills, new media forms Geolocation: New forms of visual storytelling Examples: Tomorrow’s news today Fearless predictions, closing thoughts
  5. Proposition 1 We need trustworthy news “Information is as vital to the healthy functioning of communities as clean air, safe streets, good schools and public health.” Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, October 2009
  6. Proposition 2 News is undergoing its biggest, messiest change – ever Everything about news is changing: The way it’s produced The way it’s distributed The way we consume it Who’s a trusted news provider Conventions of journalism (NPR as advocate for Haiti relief efforts) What “news” means
  7. The new new news?
  8. A contrast in fortunes Daily U.S. newspaper circulation fell 10.62 percent in the most recent 6-month period (April-September 2009). USA Today circulation fell 17.5%, New York Times fell 7.3%, San Francisco Chronicle fell 25.8%. (Chron: newsroom of 575 in 2000, 160 today.) Average daily paid circulation fell to 30.39 million in Sept. 2009 from a high of 63.3 million in 1984.
  9. Social media’s ecosystem Almost 1 million blog posts per day; over 346 million people globally read blogs 6 of top 10 websites in US are social sites (YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, MySpace, Blogger, Craigslist) Twitter: 108 million registered users; 300,000 new users a day; 180 million unique visitors a month Facebook: 400 million members Flickr: 35 million people have posted & tagged 3 billion-plus photos Wikipedia: 10 million users have contributed YouTube: 1 billion-plus videos served per day Whenever someone opens a computer, 60% of time it’s for social reasons
  10. Cultural norms of social media It’s not about the technology, it’s about connecting people. Premium on sharing Transparency Conversation expected Mistrust of traditional authority figures & marketers Instead: trust in peers, people like ourselves — even strangers Trust is easily gained and easily lost. Credit/attribution given Collaboration
  11. Big Media’s suicide pact New spate of newspapers’ social media policies: Do not engage without permission Do not be open Do not be personal Creative Commons photo by Bombardier on Flickr Read the policies for yourself at:
  12. Old Media values Social Media values News as finished product News as a process/service Lecture, authoritative Conversation, participation Passive consumers Empowered users One to many Many to many Corporate/autocratic Democratic, collaborative, messy Closed Transparent Exclusive Shared Centralized Distributed Elite professionals Grassroots, peer-focused Institutional voice Personal voice Heavily filtered Unfiltered/lightly filtered
  13. News as a social experience “ To a great extent, people’s experience of news, especially on the internet, is becoming a shared social experience. ... Getting news is often an important social act. • 75% of online news consumers say they get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites • 51% of social networking site (e.g. Facebook) users who are also online news consumers say that on a typical day they get news items from people they follow. • 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commentary about it, or dissemination of news via social media. “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer,” Report by Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, March 1, 2010 ”
  14. Social journalism Elements of social media applied to journalism: Blogging ... Twitter ... Facebook ... Comments ... Widgets ... RSS ... Video sharing ... Photo sharing ... User-created content ... Ratings ... User reviews ... Tagging ... Social bookmarks ... Live streaming & chat ... Presentation sharing ... Geolocation services ... Forums ... Community membership ... Social news sharing sites ... Wikis ... Texting ... Meetups ... Shared calendars
  15. Entrepreneurial journalism Entrepreneur (än-trə-prə-ˈnər) A person engaged in the art or science of innovation and risk-taking for profit in business Creative Commons photo by kyz on Flickr
  16. Entrepreneurial approach Build things that are useful & have value Study marketplace, define goals, write business plan Embrace risk Launch pilot projects Measure results Make tough choices Iterate! Iterate! Iterate! Creative Commons photo by parl on Flickr Make mistakes, forgive yourself, move on
  17. Cost of innovation 40 Investment cost (in millions) 30 20 10 0 2002 2006 2010 Technorati: estimated $36 million investment over 8 years Dabble: $1.7 million over 4 years Wellness Mobile: essentially zero startup costs. Test it out, offer shares to programmers, if it flies, you take funding.
  18. Innovation = Iterating Facebook in 2005 “The idea is launch early and iterate. Early on, I didn’t just start Facebook as a company. It was a project that I wanted to exist. It’s amazing how much stuff we messed up.” – Mark Zuckerberg, 10/09
  19. New skills for journalists Storyteller, yes, but also: Conversation facilitator & stimulator Multimedia guru Evangelist Curator Data gatherer Geek! Metrics nerd Entrepreneur/strategist Photograph by Tristram Kenton © The Really Useful Group Ltd.
  20. If I were launching a news site It would contain these elements: Geo-targeted news Conversation Data-driven tools Open APIs Rewards & incentives for participation More attention to real-time Web Lots of real-world meet-ups Explore multiple verticals
  21. Community brain Tagging the real world The emerging mobile marketplace will require evergreen content from trusted sources of vetted information. But you can enlist schools, partners and readers to help create a digital community encyclopedia. Wikitude AR Travel Guide for Android G1
  22. The Web is a database But it needs curating! Local news pubs’ competitive advantage: Data! The new newsrooms need more coders Value in building structured evergreen data — need a city guides 2.0 Journalists can bring meaning to info-jungle Enlist local citizens to maintain the living database
  23. The power of open APIs Give the public access to public records Open APIs = enlist community to hack & contextualize content has licensed its mapping technology to news publications & waged a battle to open up public records in Ky. YourMapper founder-CEO Michael Schnuerle News organizations are logical hub of community data around schools, Don’t know APIs? Go to: hospitals, prisons & more.
  24. New tools for new needs Resources to explore Open source “Wikipedia of maps”; community builds own using GPS traces and donated satellite imagery. Creative Commons Google Earth has an API News orgs can layer photos over Google Maps
  25. Online visualization tools The Decline: The Geography of a Recession by LaToya Egwuekwe
  26. Check-ins at SXSWi
  27. Who does tomorrow’s news? Traditional media Reimagined media Professional journalists at Citizen publishers newspapers, TV & radio Alternative & community stations news publications Twitterers, Facebookers Bloggers Podcasters Advocacy groups Nonprofits Corporations
  28. Early trailblazers Seattle Post-Intelligencer closed print publication in March 2009 with 170 staffers. Relaunched as online-only site with 40 staffers, 20 in editorial.
  29. Early trailblazers Initiative from Chicago Tribune. Aggregates over 300 local blogs. 10,000 registered users and 3.2 million page views per month (Oct. 2009).
  30. Early trailblazers Nonprofit, nonpartisan public media organization Produced by veterans of Texas Monthly & Texas Weekly Twitter & blog widgets Not just a publication: They put on public events, sponsor & record a conversation series w/ elected officials, hold an ideas festival, sponsor a college tour
  31. Early trailblazers ProPublica, nonprofit investigative journalism site, winner of 2010 Pulitzer Prize, nonprofit news site launched in 2007. Operating loss in 2009: $125,000 on expenses of $1.2 million; $675 in revenues from donations, ads, sponsors, nonprofit news site, crowd-funded journalism, for-profit network of sites for communities under 50,000 people, claims to operate at 4.5% of cost of newspapers. Huffington Post creating a nonprofit investigative journalism arm. Jim Brady launching a DC news site
  32. Early trailblazers
  33. Community builder here’s an amazing difference between building an audience and building a community. An audience will watch you fall on a sword. A community will fall on a sword for you. — Chris Brogan Author,“Trust Agents”
  34. Trends: Niche news + community The Stupid A Food Coma Spouse Buzz Cancer Show
  35. Predictions: Old media 500 of the 1,408 daily U.S. newspapers will suspend print publication in next five years. Most will go out of business. Cause of death: failure of imagination. The impact will be highly disruptive of communities in short term, but new emergent journalism enterprises will sprout up. We’ll see isolated success stories of pay walls, nonprofit news models, crowdsourcing. But these, as well as micro- payments & government subsidies (& blogging!), won’t sustain in-depth/community/investigative journalism.
  36. The iSavior? Um, no “I’m a genius, but I’m not a miracle worker. ... I wasn’t put on earth to save The New York Times. I was put on earth to restore a sense of childlike wonder to people’s empty, pathetic lives.” — Fake Steve Jobs
  37. Predictions: New media Emerging from ashes of the news industry will be a vibrant news ecosystem with smaller players that are more social & entrepreneurial. Blogging, crowdsourcing & nonprofit news sites cannot take place of newspapers by themselves — but they will be part of news ecosystem. We'll see hyperlocal news aggregators take slice of local advertising pie: EveryBlock,, Fwix, But: They don’t have resources to go deep. Legacy news publications should own hyperlocal markets — but largely won’t.
  38. Prediction: Trust disruption Reimagined media: When the rules are up for grabs: Investigative journalism with a catch: Mark Cuban & TechCrunch: April Fools a day early Kontera embeds text ads as part of your blog posts March 31, 2010
  39. Closing thoughts Young people don’t read newspapers, but they’re enormous consumers & sharers of news. The Mobile Generation: Hire them. Observe them. Listen to them. If every business is a media business, do what no one else can easily replicate in your community or region. To be relevant in the new age, create a startup culture, practice social journalism— and innovate! Leverage the community. Retool focus to serve as guide, curator, data jockey & aggregator as well as content creator. Bring journalistic standards & values into this new space. Help communities tell stories in authentic ways.
  40. Thank you! Let’s talk! JD Lasica Founder, SNCR senior fellow email: Twitter: @jdlasica Presentation at