Saturday, December 21, 2013

Police blotter brings in $100k for Montana newspaper

Versión en español aquí.

Who would have thought that a small-town newspaper could discover a new revenue source worth $100,000 by repackaging some of its content?

As the Wall Street Journal reports, a local best-selling book in a Montana town is "We Don't Make This Stuff Up: The Very Best of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle Police Reports."

Editors have always known of the public's interest in police news and the human dramas and comedies that law enforcement officers witness on a daily basis. But the Daily Chronicle decided to go a step beyond publishing the daily news and compile the most interesting items into a book.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Analytics is undercounting engagement of your users

Versión en español aquí.

The two most important traffic measurements for news entrepreneurs are NOT unique visitors and page views. Those numbers can mislead you. They count people who arrive at your website by accident or search, glance at a page and leave.

As Ken Doctor has so eloquently put it:
"Unique visitors are a great dumb count. As I’ve noted, it’s as if in the print world we counted the everyday subscriber — consuming 5 hours a month of a news publication — the same as someone who, standing on a Midtown corner on a windy day, happened to catch a sheet of flying newsprint as she held up her hand to hail a cab."
By contrast, the two measures that should really matter to you are:

  • engagement -- how long a visitor is on your site per visit and how many pages they view
  • loyalty -- how many times they return per day, week or month

Saturday, December 7, 2013

People problems in a small media organization, Part 2

Versión en español aquí.

In People Problems Part 1, we talked about two common kinds of complaints that you as a manager might hear.

  • "I don't think Karl is showing enough commitment to his work"
  • "The technical staff is being rude to our salespeople"

Then we walked you through the basic steps you as a manager could use to help your colleague solve the problems. The goal in this process is to develop your colleague's problem-solving skills.

If you focus on developing your people, your organization will develop far more rapidly than if you focus on just the numbers.

People problems in a small media organization, Part 1

Versión en español.

If you are leading a team in a small media organization, you need to get the best out of your people. Everyone has to be a contributor. 

This is not just a selfish thing. You get the best out of people by helping them develop their own talents, overcome obstacles and reach their own professional goals. 

Ask questions, don't give solutions

If a member of your team comes to you with a problem -- for example, "I don't think Karl is showing enough commitment to his work" or "the technical staff is being rude to our salespeople" -- you will not help the person by providing a solution. 

  • First, the solution you propose might work for you but not for your colleague. You have different talents and experience. 
  • Second, providing a solution denies the person the chance to grow, to develop confidence in problem solving.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Brian Stelter shows personal brands rival media brands

Versión en español aquí.

For several years I have been using Brian Stelter, the media columnist and TV commentator, as an example to students of how a young journalist can build a personal brand. 

He did not attend a famous university and
had no special family connections. Yet he quickly made a name for himself online by creating a blog that thrived on timely, high-quality journalism.

I always include a slide showing the number of his Twitter followers (lately, 200,000) and pose the question: "How much longer will Brian Stelter need the New York Times?"

As it turned out, not very long. Stelter was just hired away from the Times by CNN to host "Reliable Sources" and be their media reporter.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Journalists have to market their work in social media

Versión en español aquí.

A young acquaintance was applying for an online reporting job at an internationally renowned news organization.

But the interviewer did not focus on the job candidate's articles. He wanted to know more about the metrics of audience engagement with the candidate's stories -- time spent, social sharing, search traffic.

How had the candidate used social media to capture readers? How effective were the tactics? What measurement tools had he used to gauge effectiveness?

In other words, did this job candidate understand how to capture and interact with the audience on the web?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Know the Hispanic audiences -- all of them

Versión en español aquí.

Tony Morejon likes to tell the story of a community outreach program that failed because the government agency in Tampa, Florida, did not understand differences between Hispanic groups.

Tony Morejon: "All Hispanics are not alike."
The government wanted to offer health services to the Mexican immigrants who work on local farms. But instead of hiring Mexicans to do the surveys and health screenings, as Morejon recommended, they used their own employees, mainly Cubans and Puerto Ricans. The reasoning was that since the employees spoke Spanish, they could persuade the Mexicans to enroll.

It didn't work, said Morejon, Hispanic community liaison for Hillsborough County. The Mexicans politely declined to volunteer information about household health issues. Even though the outreach workers spoke Spanish, the Mexicans perceived them as authority figures to be feared rather than trusted.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Journalism marketing for Colombia, via Silicon Valley

At National Congress of 8,000-member Periodismo de Hoy
About 90 would-be journalism entrepreneurs signed up for a workshop I gave recently in Medellin, Colombia.

The focus was on how to make a journalism website financially sustainable. We did some exercises in marketing, in analyzing web traffic and presenting to investors.

Like most journalists, this group had never been taught a couple of important business concepts:

  • The journalism we want to create may not be the journalism that anyone wants or needs. In other words, think first about the audience. Create a community. Build that community around high-quality journalism content. Without a community, there is no business. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

News entrepreneur advises, 'Don't think about it - do it'

Olga Lucia Lozano, creative editor
of  La Silla Vacia
Versión en español aquí.

The cofounder of one of the most important investigative journalism sites in Colombia, La Silla Vacia (The Empty Chair), has some advice for those who are thinking about creating their own website, app or whatever:
"Don't think about it, do it. Doing things is the best way to learn. To try means to fail. To fail means to learn."

Olga Lucia Lozano, creative editor of La Silla Vacia, recently shared what she has learned in the nearly five years of working on the site during a "Journalism Hangout" (in Spanish, she comes on at the 30-minute mark).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

'Journalists need to educate themselves to stay relevant' -- Esther Vargas

Versión en español aquí.

Esther Vargas is a force of nature. She is social media manager for a news agency of the Peruvian government, she teaches at the Catholic University of Peru and she is a tireless promoter of education for journalists through her website, Clases de Periodismo.

The home page of Clases de Periodismo
She and her team of four dedicated collaborators compile the latest news and courses of interest to journalists and share it all through social networks such as Facebook  (54,000 "likes") and Twitter (@cdperiodismo 109,000 followers).

In addition, Clases de Periodismo -- "The Virtual Journalism School of Latin America" -- attracts 10,000 visits a day and generates enough revenue to pay salaries to its staff. The leading traffic source is Mexico, followed by Spain, Colombia, Argentina and her native Peru.

The financing model

The site has low costs. There is no office. The staff meets in cafes or Vargas's home. "We finance the site with workshops, consulting work and social media work for various companies and events," Vargas said in an interview in Puebla, Mexico, where she was giving a lecture

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why investigative journalism is good business

Versión en español aquí.

I may have misled people for the last few years by saying that investigative journalism is not a business but a public service.

Other people -- namely Felix Salmon, Jeff Bezos and four journalists cited by -- are reminding me that investigative journalism does, in fact, have commercial value.

First, Felix Salmon, the Reuters blogger. He made the case in a recent post that while investigative journalism may not produce the web traffic of popular topics, a media organization reaps intangible but valuable benefits. 

For example, advertisers will see that a site is a serious news outlet "and be that much more willing to pay premium rates to advertise on the site as a result. Readers who like having fast news during the day like having meatier stuff to read over the weekend," Salmon says. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What journalism schools can and can't teach students

Versión en español aquí.

A master's degree in English literature might not seem an ideal preparation for a career as a business journalist. Actually it served me well, for all the reasons given by advocates of a liberal arts education. 

But my own experience seems to have little to do with what the journalism job market is seeking today.  Should we be improving students' minds and souls or helping them get a job? 

These days I advise students to be practical. Employers and recent graduates are telling me that the current job market demands that job applicants know:

  • Multimedia storytelling skills. Producing slideshows with sound, shooting and editing video and photos, writing for the web.
  • Data and statistical skills for storytelling. Collecting, editing, analyzing and interpreting data to produce compelling interactive maps and graphics.
  • Audience development skills (formerly known as marketing and circulation) such as managing online communities, interpreting data on audience behavior, crowdsourcing for information, interacting with the audience.
  • Basics of programming. How to create compelling pages that attract web audiences.
  • The business of media. Journalists can help a news organization generate revenues without compromising their ethics, and today that skill is more important than ever. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My MOOC experience and what it means

Versión en español aquí.

If you want to study journalism, you have more choices today, at lower cost, and of higher quality than ever. Sometimes you will get that at a university and sometimes not. That represents a challenge for universities.

In a lecture at a journalism conference in Puebla, Mexico, I described a personal experience taking a course in data visualization from one of the world leaders in the field, Alberto Cairo, author of  "The Functional Art."

The six-week course had readings and video tutorials of the highest quality. The homework assignments required at least 10 to 15 hours of work a week.  

Engaged professor

Cairo was intimately involved with the course participants, offering criticism of their work and suggestions for improvement. What was remarkable about this course was that there were 2,000 students enrolled from more than 100 countries, it took place completely online and it was free. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bezos purchase of Post has parallels in China

Versión en español aquí.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos isn't the only e-commerce billionaire making news with acquisitions. Jack Ma, chairman of China's e-commerce leader, Alibaba, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a Twitter-like microblogging service and a mapping service.

Both of these giants have been bolting on companies that can help them gain synergies by combining content, social networks, internet retailing, mapping (location-based selling and services), mobile platforms, devices and operating systems. 

Their model and chief competitor is Google, the worldwide leader in online advertising. Google has been getting into all of these businesses. In order to compete globally, the big internet companies -- like Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo, Twitter and, in China, Alibaba and TenCent -- are seeing the need to develop all parts of online business. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

5 dirty words journalists have to learn to say without blushing

Versión en español aquí.

Journalism is the best job in the world, and working with journalists is fun. They’re funny, irreverent, intelligent and excellent storytellers.

Still, as a group we tend to be arrogant, self-righteous and holier-than-thou (I include myself in this criticism). We tend to view ourselves as high priests of an exclusive profession and bearers of a special ethical standard that few others can live up to. We see ourselves as purer, more objective, less affected by the prejudices of the mere mortals we cover.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

10 entrepreneurs test new style of learning

Tenth in a series on teaching entrepreneurial journalism. Parts of this post are adapted from an article originally published in Revista Mexicana de Comunicación.

Latin American journalists have a great thirst for establishing independent media. Many of them are tired of working for low pay at media outlets that protect the friends and punish the enemies of the owners. 

They want to cover topics neglected by the mainstream media, such as education, health, environment, human rights and indigenous culture. They want to expose incompetence and corruption in government.

More than a dozen digital news entrepreneurs described how they are overcoming financial obstacles to sustain independent journalism during the Ibero-American Colloquium on Digital Journalism this spring sponsored by the Knight Center for Digital Journalism in the Americas. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How to overcome objections, get meetings with funders

More news organizations are trying to adopt a nonprofit model, but they likely have no experience in fundraising. They might want to look at Andy Robinson's book "How to Raise $500 to $5,000 from Almost Anyone." 

As someone who did fundraising on many boards, I can say that Robinson knows the territory. The website for nonprofits Guidestar ran an excerpt from his book in which Robinson gives a lesson in how to respond to avoidance tactics of funders when you call:  

I don't mean to imply that that the following responses constitute one conversation, and that you have to handle eight or nine put-offs in a row. But my general rule is that you should respond to at least three before giving up. 
Objection: "I don't have time to talk right now." Response: "When would be a better time to call?"

Thursday, May 30, 2013

WeChat as social media strategy for news

Once again I find myself learning new things from my students here in China. The social media marketing strategies they proposed in class included techniques and platforms I was ignorant of.

Their assignment was to recommend a strategy for a news organization or business that they would like to work for. They chose, among others, the Wall Street Journal, China Daily, Xinhua News Agency, Financial Times, Economic Observer, Tanzania Broadcasting Corp., Ikea, Whirlpool appliances, and Elle magazine.

Several of the marketing plans included WeChat, which is a free text- and voice-message service for cellphones. WeChat allows its 300 million users worldwide to connect with anyone in their phone's address book. It has added 100 million users since September.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What's stealing and what's fair use of web content?

Updated, with new information about Creative Commons, on 27 Sept. 2015.

During a class on how news organizations use social media, one of my students asked if it was OK to republish any photo that appeared on Facebook, Twitter, or Weibo, the Chinese Twitter. 

Ellyn Angelotti,
Poynter Institute
There is no simple answer to this question, but there are some guidelines, as I learned during an online webinar, "Navigating Copyright and Fair Use Issues in an Open-source World," offered on NewsU by Poynter Institute faculty member Ellyn Angelotti.  

The legal concept of "fair use" in the U.S. and many other countries means that copyrighted material can be reused or republished as long as it meets certain criteria, Angelotti said. Copyright aims to encourage creativity and innovation by protecting a creator's work. But it also aims to encourage people to transform the original so that it advances public knowledge or creativity. 

Some reuse is permitted

So, to answer the student's question, it is generally OK to republish a tweet in Twitter or a Facebook update within those social network systems. However, each social media platform has its own terms of use, which you should consult before republishing.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Universities can lead in incubation of new media models

Ninth in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations. 

Mark Briggs, the man who wrote the book about entrepreneurial journalism, believes that universities are among the best places to experiment with new business models for news.

Universities embrace experimentation and risk-taking, he says. "Those are two traits that are not very inherent in legacy news organizations. That's why I've always felt that the university was in a prime position to be the startup incubator for testing new ideas in digital news and publishing."

He favors the model of a lab where students are encouraged to propose new products and applications and try them out on real audiences. Since the students have no investment in the old ways of doing things, they can approach some of the problems facing media organizations with an open mind. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cronkite School focuses on hands-on experiences

Eighth in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations. 

Retha Hill, director,
New Media Innovation Lab
Arizona State University differs from some of the other programs in entrepreneurial journalism profiled in this series since it does not offer a degree in that field. Instead it emphasizes hands-on experiences in its programs for developing new digital media.

Both graduate and undergraduate students can work in its New Media Innovation Lab, operated by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where their research and computer programming help media companies create multimedia products.

Working hand in glove with the lab is the school's Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship,  which also encourages students to develop new media products.

Students from all departments on campus can participate in both these programs, bringing together experiences from engineering, business, computer science, and other disciplines.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A niche publication thrives within the New York Times

Loren Feldman, small business editor


Versión en español aquí.

A digital media entrepreneur has to think first of building a community. Doing that means offering not just information but answers, advice, help, understanding.

You have to know what your community needs. That is why Loren Feldman perks up when he talks about a five-part series on his blog in which a small businessman described how he almost ruined his business by mismanaging his Google Adwords account.

It was a drama and a mystery aimed at a particular audience, namely small business owners and professionals. The blog is called "You're the Boss: The Art of Running a Small Business," and it appears in the small business section of the New York Times's website. Feldman is the Times's small business editor.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

8 leading programs in entrepreneurial journalism

Here are links that describe eight leading university programs in entrepreneurial journalism. What are some other programs that I should include in this series?

Students work in teams in this program at Northwestern University.

Punch Sulzberger program emphasizes developing the organization by coaching a key executive.

Arizona State professor urges more focus on sustainability.

Poynter's NewsU aims to make distance learning as effective as a classroom experience.

University of Guadalajara's master's is offered in Spanish and completely online.

Students work with New York City's media innovators. 

Mid-career executives refine their organizations' strategies.

At Cronkite School, students get hands-on experience
Developers, engineers and journalism majors work together.

Universities can lead in incubation of new business models
Mark Briggs: make the classroom a center for experimentation


My Mooc experience and what it means
Working professionals thrive on online courses

Brian Stelter of the New York Times reaches out through social media

How to get over the fear of selling

Robert Niles offers practical advice to hyperlocal media entrepreneurs

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Medill builds on 30 years of entrepreneurial journalism

Seventh in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations. 

Rich Gordon, Director of Digital
Innovation, Medill School of
Journalism, Northwestern U.
Rich Gordon is bemused by the recent proliferation of university programs in entrepreneurial journalism. The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University has been doing it for 30 years.

"We had classes here in our master's program where we required our students to create new publications and address the content, the audience, and the business plan of these publications," Gordon, director of digital innovation, said in an interview.

"I assume other schools didn't do it because it wasn't considered appropriate for journalists to be talking about business, students didn't want it, faculty couldn't teach it, and the job market didn't ask for it. I don't think the term 'entrepreneurial journalism' even existed a few years ago."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Journalists selling ads: think of it as a fair exchange

When I was going through the transition from editor of a business publication to the role of publisher, I dreaded sales calls with clients.

It meant I had to ask clients for money, which was a new and uncomfortable experience. The hilarious irony of this is that, as a reporter and editor, it was my job to ask people much tougher, more-intrusive questions, and I did it with no problem -- grieving parents about the death of their child, a political candidate about his sexual escapades, a business executive about her salary.

How tough could it be for a former reporter to ask an advertiser for money? (I borrow this example from Robert Niles's book.) Not that tough, as it turns out.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Columbia focuses on coaching journalism execs

Doug Smith
Executive Director
Punch Sulzberger Program
Sixth in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations. 

Columbia Journalism School's Punch Sulzberger Program differs from other programs in this series in several ways. 

Like them, it is entrepreneurial in focusing on innovation and transforming of a media enterprise. But the biggest difference is that it focuses on changing the enterprise rather than on mainly developing skills of an individual.

The participant is supposed to recruit people within and outside the media enterprise (for-profit, non-profit, public) to drive measurable change. The success of any individual participant in the program is based on metrics of the enterprise. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dan Gillmor: We need more experiments on revenue side of media startups

Fifth in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations. 

Dan Gillmor, Founding Director
Knight Center for Digital Media
Entrepreneurship, Arizona State U.
Dan Gillmor is recognized as an expert in new digital media, but when he teaches entrepreneurship, he has a broader vision than just media.

He sees media as one part of an entrepreneurial culture where people are creating thousands of new enterprises. He sees a society where people are participants and not just employees. "I don't think we can call ourselves literate unless we're creating stuff, not in the world we're in," he says. In other words, we are the media, and we are media-active, to play on the titles of two of his books.

He teaches at the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University. University journalism programs can play a part in creating a new media ecosystem to replace the one whose business model is collapsing, he says. But so can other university departments, training organizations, journalism nonprofits, traditional media, startups, and individuals with no credentials but with valuable experience to share. "My attitude is, the more people who want to be in the mix, the better."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How journalist built his brand from college dorm room

Brian Stelter
2012 Media Bistro photo
Brian Stelter is my favorite example of how a young person can create a personal brand and build it into a career. I have talked about him in presentations in Latin America and Europe and his story never fails to make an impression. 

When he was a freshman at Towson University in Maryland in 2004, he launched his CableNewser blog with news and commentary about the coverage of the Iraq War by CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. He soon attracted a loyal audience of influential TV industry executives. No one dreamed the blog was by a college student.

He eventually parlayed his blogging experience into a job covering media at the New York Times, but that is getting ahead of the story.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Online courses play bigger role in entrepreneurial journalism

Fourth in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations. 

The Poynter Institute's online training center, NewsU, is building out its offerings in entrepreneurial journalism with the goal of creating a certificate program. It is one of the few organizations doing this kind of training mainly online. 

Howard Finberg
Poynter Institute, NewsU
NewsU already has eight courses, webinars and training videos that fit under the entrepreneurial umbrella and plans on developing more. These training modules are focused on helping journalists and news organizations stay competitive as digital media change the nature of their work, says NewsU's founder, Howard Finberg

“We're training people along two tracks. We're reshaping the traditional mass media business model to be more entrepreneurial and independent of major corporations. We're also training journalists to be more self-sufficient. We're giving them the skills to work across disciplines in ways they didn't have to when we were in school. We're changing the organizational and economic approach to training the people who do journalism.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

In Mexico, innovative selection process for entrepreneurial journalism

Third in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations.

The University of Guadalajara in Mexico has just recruited a class of 18 students in its second year of offering an online master's degree in digital journalism.

Manuel Moreno Castaneda
Rector, Virtual University
University of Guadalajara
This may be the only master's degree program in the developing specialty of entrepreneurial journalism that is completely online. It is offered through the Virtual University (Sistema de Universidad Virtual), whose rector, Manuel Moreno Castaneda, is recognized internationally as an authority on distance learning.

The two-year, four-semester program has a design similar to programs at American University and the City University of New York, but it also has an innovative selection process.

Three-week selection course

Before being admitted, the applicants must propose a project to develop in new digital media. A preliminary selection of 35 applicants then must take a three-week online course in which they watch videos, read articles, complete assignments, and receive feedback from faculty about their proposal. They are then interviewed by telephone. Only the best from this preliminary group are accepted. (Disclosure: I helped design this program while director of the Digital Journalism Center, Centro de Formacion en Periodismo Digital, at the University.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Road to entrepreneurial journalism passed through Bolivia

Martha Paz, Universidad
Evangelica Boliviana
My path to developing courses in entrepreneurial journalism began in 2006 in an unlikely place -- Bolivia, the poorest country in South America.

Bolivia historically was controlled by interest groups that crushed upstarts who tried to challenge their control of business and politics. Entrepreneurship? There is a word for it in Spanish, but people in Bolivia were not used to using it.

I was a Knight International Journalism Fellow training journalists at the major news organizations in that country. I was also developing a journalism course to offer at the country's oldest private university, the Universidad Evangelica Boliviana, well known for producing top journalists like Martha Paz. She had left the country's biggest daily to return to her alma mater and head the communication department.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

CUNY aims to incubate new media

Stephen Shepard, dean of CUNY
 Journalism School: "We are
 researching ways to support quality
as the old financial order erodes." 
Second in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations.

City University of New York's Entrepreneurial Journalism program aims to be an incubator of new media projects as well as training the next generation of digital journalists.

To that end the faculty research is aimed at helping entrepreneurs directly, as with its survey of 500 local businesses' the online presence and marketing needs; its students do apprenticeships at startups that need help solving a problem; and each student develops a capstone project that could be a business plan or new media prototype. 

In addition, the school hosts events where some of New York City's digital entrepreneurs can present their projects and get feedback. “We want to play a role in the community,” says Jeremy Caplan, director of education for the program. “We want to be a place where people will come and share their ideas.” 

Friday, January 18, 2013

At American U., media entrepreneurship includes NGOs

Jan Schaffer
First in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations.

In the new world of media, traditional journalism organizations are just one more voice, and the MA in Media Entrepreneurship program at American University reflects that.

Jan Schaffer, who teaches the program's seminar on media entrepreneurship, believes that journalism schools should teach "information-gathering and truth-seeking skills to a broad array of future civic players.” That means new media could be non-governmental organizations and other nonprofits.

In praise of engineers and scientists: their failures are learning experiences

Apollo 13 engineers celebrate safe splashdown.
NASA photo, April 1970. NBC News via AP
Versión en español aquí.

Journalists who are starting their own digital media should learn to think more like engineers and scientists. For them, solving a problem involves repeated trial and error. They view each step not as a failure but as a learning experience.

Engineers and scientists were the heroes of "Apollo 13," both in the movie and in real life.  They searched frantically against the clock to find ways to keep the damaged spacecraft's crew alive and return them safely to Earth.

They had to improvise solutions with the imperfect tools on board the spacecraft and experiment with processes they had never tried before. They had a goal but they weren't sure how to get there. So they tried and failed and kept trying. 

There's never enough time or money

Like them, journalists working in a startup will not have the ideal tools at hand nor all the money and time in the world to perfect their web project. Many of the answers they need can be found only by getting their product into the hands of the intended audience. Test it on the audience. On the web, a new product is always in Beta.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: How to Make Money Publishing Community News Online

Versión en español aquí.

Hundreds of websites are popping up to replace the community news coverage lost as daily newspapers cut staff and publish less frequently.

Many of them are started by the very reporters who have just been laid off or community organizers who want to hold public institutions accountable.

What these new media entrepreneurs have is a passion for news and community service. But most will not survive long-term because they have no clue about how to run a business or to find the financial resources to make the operation sustainable.

They might have a better chance, however, if they spent some time with Robert Niles's book How to Make Money Publishing Community News Online.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

You create more value with 'community' than 'audience'

Versión en español aquí.

When I teach entrepreneurial journalism, the first thing I emphasize is the need to create a community.

An audience is just a group of observers.  A community shares values and a deep interest in a topic or geographic area. It often has a bias toward action. That is where value comes in.

Connecting these people and creating value for them is the beginning of a community. Only when you have connected them can you begin to get their financial support.

Memberships, not paywalls; sponsorships, not ads

I was reminded of the power of community, as opposed to audience, when reading Martin Langeveld's post for Nieman Lab on what is ahead for journalism in 2013.