Tag Archives: Information Valet Project

Staying Alive: Discussion Heats Up on Sustaining Journalism

On a gray and rainy day in Washington D.C.  some 120 participants gather to share, discuss and debate thoughts, ideas and offer solutions to staunch the blood flow in the industry.

Newspapers are headed to the graveyards, and Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon’s Kindle, have changed the ways that news and information are decimated. Bottom line: How can the news industry make money, which is crucial to the survival of the industry and journalists themselves?

A very sharp audience for the first discussion on “The Strategic Landscape for Sustaining News.”

Lots of thoughtful questions from anti-trust issues, to consumer protection, to what the business models of 21st century journalism is i.e. paywalls, content, subscription, reinventing the reader model? What is the formula, the golden key, and the answers to stop the downspiral of newspapers and journalism, which started long before the economy went south?

The panelists included a number of media/new media’s movers and shakers including Walter Issacson the former editor of Time Magazine and now the head of The Aspen Institute, Cynthia Typaldos the founder of Kachingle, Matt Mankins of In-a-Moon, Scott Karp the co-founder of Publish2 and Merrill Brown one of the partners and co-founders of Journalism Online, LLC, which includes telecom bigwig like Leo Hindery.

Here are some discussion highlights:

  • Merrill Brown and his team from Journalismonline LLC are creating a product where publishers can name their own price. “When we meet publishers we make the point that, what you do and how you price is your choice, but it may not save your business,” Brown says.  
  • Issacson notes that the current news downspiral is “not  about saving journalism or more the informatin,” it’s about saving journalism and more importantly digital creativity.” Most journalists can’t afford to be hobbyists, and need a salary to survive.  
  • Issacson notes that a solid business model requires a variety of business streams.
  • Scott Karp points out that the news industry needs to come together to build their own news aggregator, and calls it a “big untapped opportunity.”  
  • Cynthia Typaldos, a serial entrepreneur, restarted Kachingle, a site that allows consumers to contribut to their favorite websites, about a year ago, describes the newsconsumer of today as such:  “It’ all about me, me, me. the user. The prodcuer doesn’t set the price anymore the user sets the price.” “Now the user is the center of the universe,” she says.
  • Typaldos adds that many users are now producers themselves, and recognize the value of content and the effort that it takes to make great content.”
  • Typaldos isn’t a big fan of advertisers either, and belives that it played a role in the demise of newspaers.

I am fascinated with the discussions and moved by the amount of concern from citizens, journalists, academics, and community leaders. It may be rough waters in the industry, but it seems like we’re trying to ride out the storm together.

More to come…

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Pre conference pasta and idea swapping…

“From Gatekeeper to Information Valet” is about to start. Let the blogging and Tweeting, and ideas begin.

Last night we had a great pre-conference gathering of about 15 participants at Notti Bianche, the Italian restaurant at George Washington University Inn.

 Had the chance to meet with Darren Burden, director of  news and sports at  Fairfax Digital Media in Sydney, Allan Hoving, founder of  PayCheckR.com and Steve Brant a columnist for The Huffington Post, who writes about media, politics and works in the Corporate Social Responsibility arena.

Over wine and pasta we chatted about everything from the usability of the Amazon Kindle and Apple’s iPhone, to news outlets’ struggle for the Holy Grail, a.k.a. a business model that works.

Allan is a veteran of the print world and has worked at places like Rolling Stone and New York Magazine. Allan recently launched PayCheckR.com with some partners. He promises to share some ideas on potential money-generating models for journalism.

Stay tuned.