Sunday, August 9, 2015

Jarvis's new role for journalists: be the organizer

Jarvis: think first of the community
Several years ago I was working in Belarus, a former Soviet republic, where independent newspapers have a hard time surviving. The government denies them access to state-monopoly newsstands, overcharges them for their newsprint, and harasses them at every turn.

We looked at one publisher's website data to see if he might have an opportunity to generate revenue online. Turns out the website's most popular page contained the community's bus schedules. And what's more, his community spent more time on that page -- 5 minutes, 30 seconds per visit -- than any other. This publisher, a journalist, was humbled to see that a simple list was more important to his readers than the journalism.

The Belarus example came to mind as I was reading Jeff Jarvis's new book, in which he talks about a new role for journalists: "Helping a community better organize its knowledge so it can better organize itself."