Citizen Media Watch

januari 12th, 2011

Citizen Media Watch says goodbye and hello

Posted by lotta
Gitta Willén och Lotta Holmström

Gitta Wilén and Lotta Holmström. Photo: Pelle Sten

This will be the last post at Citizen Media Watch. As you might have noticed, we haven’t posted in ages. Our focus has been elsewhere, and continue to be so, so with some regret we are making it official that this blog is now simply an archive of our previous posts. We’ll keep it a “landmark only”.

We have met a lot of interesting people and had great conversations along the way. We hope our old posts will shed some light on an era that came and went quite quickly, but changed journalism in many ways.

Over the years we’ve addressed countless issues, for instance we wrote about Wikileaks before it got public. Here are some of our other favorites.

First and last blog post
Citizen media: A definition. The very first blog post.

Thinkpublic – designing with people. The last post, with many thanks to Brit Stakston for the video interview with Ella Britton at Think Public.

Gitta: I think that think public, both on land and online, will grow as a phenomenon and become a way to create a more open and smarter communication.

A global perspective
We had an ambition to cover not only citizen media in the western world, but to some extent have a global perspective. We’ve written about projects and events in China, Sri Lanka, Belarus, India, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Iraq, Singapore, Tunisia and Lebanon.

Lotta: Citizen journalism’s strength is most shown in countries where freedom of speech is limited. The Tunisia prison map is one great example, there are many others. With internet access ordinary people can report first hand on troubling events.

The newsroom of Folha onLine, São Paulo, Brazil.
Photo: Gitta Wilén

Brazil’s no. 1 online newspaper Fohla OnLine – and its bloggers. Gitta’s first guest post at CMW, before she became a regular blogger here. It got numerous hits from Brazilian readers: a visit at the editorial desk at Folha OnLine, in São Paulo, Brasil.

A warm welcome to Gitta Wilén

Lotta: It was a natural development of this blog for me to invite Gitta to be a 50/50 collaborator after her having contributed three great guest posts. We make a good team!

Gitta: It has been totally awesome all the way working with Lotta and CMW. We are both storytellers, work-o-holics and Internet addicts.

Hyperlocal and geotagging
Over the years we spent writing at CMW, hyperlocal news went from the next hot thing to failing because hyperlocal markets weren’t ready, to now again being quite interesting since geotagging and geolocation through smartphones is really taking off.

• Here’s one of many posts on this topic: Geotagging makes YouTube videos local at iCommunity.TV.

Lotta: Just look at Gowalla, FourSquare and now also Facebook’s recent integration with Places. We tell stories based on where we are, to a select number of people or to the world. Collaborative maps pinpointing events certainly have their place on major news sites too.

Gitta: It has taken far more time to get there than I thought i would. I seriously thought that geotagging would be implemented and a part of our navigation tools, much earlier. But, let’s handle it wisely and with care.

Teaching and talking
We got opportunities to lecture from our experiences at CMW. For instance Gitta was invited by Jonas Söderström (Inuse), to teach web journalism at Fojo.

Gitta: I managed a one week web journalism seminar at Fojo, with a group of independent Belarus journalists and held some lectures for Belarus journalist students, from the Istitute of Journalism, Zjurfak, at the Belarus State University, BGU. Being the teacher I learned a lot about their situation. Freedom of expression is not to be taken for granted.

Thanks to Fredrik Wackå, Lotta got invited to the university in Karlstad to speak about the role of journalists in future media.

Lotta: I was asked who else they should invite, and thus got the opportunity to suggest Robin Hamman of (then) the BBC and to meet him and discuss the Manchester blogging project I had been following since 2006.

Guestblogging at Mindpark
Will there be a dark period for journalism? Some thoughts after listening to the journalism debate at SIME 2008. Also published in Swedish at Mindpark. Joakim Jardenberg is a keen Creative Commons advocate, and he also blogged about our SIME interview with Joi Ito.

Gitta: I has been an honour to collaborate with Joakim Jardenberg as a member of the Mindpark blogging team. Both Lotta and I admire his will to unrelentingly guard the soul of the web.


We had a talk with Joi Ito about hyperlocal citizen media and Creative Commons, among other things.
Photo: Lotta Holmström

Joi Ito: Don’t sign bad licenses. Our meeting with Joi Ito, and a discussion about hyperlocal citizen media.

Gitta: Our meeting with Joi Ito was one the memorable experiences from my time with CMW. Creative Commons is one of the most interesting movement on the Internet.

The future of journalism
The shift from megaphone to discussion partner was a major one, and is probably the one topic we’ve covered the most. Here are some of our posts on the matter.

Personal transparency, the eleventh change for journalism and Personal journalism, the future of online reporting. Some thoughts on the role of future journalists.

Sandra Jakob at – It’s not laziness, it is fear. One of many geek girls with great ideas in a series of video interviews.

The Lebanese ambulance attack and trust in citizen – and established – media. On trustable sources, bias, traditional media and the blogosphere.

Swedish news sites narrowing the gap to the blogosphere and The Twingly effect. When Swedish news sites first connected to the blogosphere.

Lotta: I was working at Aftonbladet in February 2006 when they started Läsarbladet, The Readers’ Daily, and I became Readers’ Editor. It was an attempt to engage the readers to contribute with journalistic material to the site, and to create an alternative starting point with the most read and liked stuff in focus, as opposed to the editors’ choices.

It soon became obvious that as an online tabloid it was easy to get readers to send us great photos of their cats and creative gingerbread houses, but enormously difficult to get initiated articles from readers on today’s topics. Later Newsmill proved it could be done, though in the form of opinion material, and also showed the need for asking the right questions.

Gitta and Lotta with Ruiwen Chua and Sriram Krishnan from NUS.
Photo: Brendalene Tan

Students of Singapore conferences and the social media bubble on Jaiku
Hej! 2007 live updates. Live blogging from Hej! 2007 and meeting all the great people there, who soon conversed on microblogging service Jaiku.
Why Jaiku outshines Twitter. Fond memories from the Jaiku era.

Gitta: I worked and lived in Singapore, year 2000–2001, starting up the Icon Medialab office. When the NUS guys invited us, parts of what later should be named as ”Bubblan” on Jaiku, to their KTH projects, I felt like home. I would like to send all my love to: Sriram, Ruiwen, Ramkumar and Mahesh.

Lotta: Hej!2007 and the following Stockholm NUS events showed us Swedes what unconferencing was all about, and led the way to great (un)conferences like SSWC and Annika Lidne’s Disruptive Media conference series with integrated Twitter feeds on display. I really enjoyed going to Singapore with Gitta and meeting up with the NUS guys again in 2008.

The blogosphere

Blogging is of course a great tool for citizen media, and it’s gone from a marginal activity to becoming mainstream.
How many Swedish blogs are there? An attempt to sum up the Swedish blogosphere in 2007 which got some attention.

CMW <3 geek girls
We were invited on a bloggers pass at Sime 2008, thank you Andie och Mahesh. Since we are two proud GeekGirls we took the opportunity to talk to YouTube phenomenon Mia Rose about her music and techie geekiness. The interview put on Youtube has reached over 17 000 fans, so far.

Mia Rose: Portray yourself with your true colours. An interview that attracted a large and quite different readership than we were used to.

Things we wish we had devoted more time to
Where’s the money? A lot of citizen journalism projects met an early end due to lack of resources. Backfence is one of many examples.

Backfence’s Mark Potts: We’re re-evaluating our strategy. Email interview with the Backfence co-founder after I posted Trouble at Backfence?

Being successful using the web to collaborate and ask for material for making hardcover books sounds kind of awkward in the era of the ebook, but it works really well for Fredrik and Teo Hären. There are lots of more examples and yes we should have written all about them.

• Teo Härén about their series of Idea books: Invite, collaborate and share – the money

Gitta: I would liked to been able to write more about business opportunities made wisely, on the web and via communication social media.

Lotta: Starting out we were examining a fairly new territory. My focus was on understanding it and its future implications. I think now that perhaps we should have moved on sooner to looking at the revenue aspect, even though we did address it some. I guess the main reason I didn’t focus much on it is that it’s not what makes me tick. I’m a sucker for creative ideas not too limited by the harsh reality of economics.

From now om Citizen Media Watch is a landmark only, but this is not a goodbye, this is a HELLO!

Lotta: (sw/en), (sw) & (en, photo blog)

Gitta: (in Swedish only).

Lotta Holmström & Gitta Wilén

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mars 11th, 2009

Entrepreneurial journalism and the future roles of journalists

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

I’m reading Ellyn Angelotti‘s summary of the discussions during the recent Journalism That Matters conference, wishing I had been there. It is written in an optimistic tone, and the focus is on journalistic entrepreneurship.

Several journalists said they wonder if their news organizations are still too dependent on their old business models to create innovative journalism. Chris Peck, editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., responded that if they feel that way, they should strike out on their own.

In a time when layoffs are plentyful – atleast in the States, but the economic crisis might mean we’ll have our share here in Sweden too – maybe this is the way to go for some of the people that find themselves outside of traditional media. The big media companies here in Sweden seem to be preparing for a model with fewer employees and more temporary hired workers, if Aftonbladet/Minimedia’s new temp agency is anything to go by. We’ve seen independent journalists starting blogs that has become successful enough to relaunch their careers, such as Niklas Svensson‘s (et al) Politikerbloggen, now part of TV4. And of course blogging is also an entry point into journalism for people without academic training but with a passion for their subject and the talent of writing interesting stuff.

One of my great sources of inspiration about citizen media and the future of journalism, Dan Gillmor, is now running the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, another sign that independent journalistic innovators are needed in the future media landscape.
I’m certainly hoping recently laid off journalists can find the enthusiasm and inspiration to take this step. We need more journalists involved in the innovation online.

Well, back to Angelotti and the Journalism That Matters conference. She points to a set of interviews made by Jackie Hai, a student at the University of Massachusetts. She’s asked a number of the participants what they think is the role of the journalist in this new network of information and community of readers. It’s well worth checking out.

Also read Jackie’s blog post ”Journalists: It’s time to be the phoenix”. Good stuff.

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mars 9th, 2009

The BBC to educate the public in journalism

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Now everyone can take part of the online journalistic training and resources the BBC has available to its journalists. The BBC blog dot life announces a virtual college of journalism:

”One of the most important things that we need to think about and do is teach journalism to the next generation and to the new leaders within journalism,” said the BBC’s Kevin Marsh, at the DNA 2009 conferenceT in Brussels.

Every aspect of online training that is currently available to 7,500 BBC journalists will be open to the public.

I’ve read a number of posts lately about the education of the public into citizen journalists and educated readers. What do you think, is this the right way to go?

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februari 5th, 2009

Scoopt's closing and the end of dedicated citjourn agencies

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Citizen journalism photo agency Scoopt has shut down. Getty Images, which purchased the site two years back, are letting it go.

In an interview in the British Journal of Photography, PJP, Getty spokesperson Alison Crombie explains that they want to focus on their core editorial business.
– People are now more visually educated, there is more awareness that they can interact directly with the media. Every time something significant happens, you will see the BBC or Sky ask for people’s photos and videos, she says.

The need for dedicated citizen journalism agencies is declining as citizens become more knowledgeable on how to reach out and get their stuff to mainstream media – and get the earnings from it. The rise of social media has to a large extent meant that they have played out their part.
Even Scoopt’s founder Kyle MacRae now think the concept is doomed.
– A smarter model is sucking in hot images from wherever they happen to be posted and shared, whether that’s Flickr or TwitPic or anywhere else, he says to BJP.


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januari 18th, 2009

Citizen media rules! $5 million to local journalism projects in the US

Posted by Gitta Wilen

There is a truly interesting trend going on in the US, supported by the Knight Foundation. Local media gets the money and support. An important movement in days of economical depression.

Read Write Web writes:

”While the Knight Foundation’s endowment has been hurt by the current economic climate, the Foundation is still committed to granting a total of $24 million to local media projects over the next five years.

As the newspaper industry still continues on its downward spiral, with more and more local papers facing bankruptcy, these citizen media projects will be able to fill the need for better local news in quite a few communities around the country. In Connecticut, for example, a new local news site will be staffed with a mix of professional and citizen journalists, after the town had lost both its newspaper and local radio station in the last decade.”

CMW has been writing about Swedish hyperlocal blogging. Maybe this is the way to go? A good mix of citizen contributors and professional journalists. The local content is best found local and it is worth the money.

The Knight Foundation believes it is about democracy:

At Knight Foundation, we firmly believe that you cannot effectively manage the affairs of a community in a democracy without the free flow of information.

That’s why we believe that information is a core community need, as critical as any to a healthy community,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation’s president and CEO.

Citizen Media Watch wants to thank Joakim Jardenberg at Mindpark for having a conversation with us about this subject. How will local newspaper be able to make enough money online to be able to survive? And it is like Joakim says: ”Riktigt djävla hårda fakta” – Really … hard facts.

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december 9th, 2008

Sandra Jakob at – It's not laziness, it is fear

Posted by Gitta Wilen

This is a conversation with Sandra Jakob about online journalism, transparency, the future way of publishing on the web and the need to inspire colleagues to explore and to use the internet.

Sandra Jakob works as an online journalist at Helsingborgs Dagblad is a daily newspaper situated in the south of Sweden, in Helsingborg.

CMW: What are you thoughts about the editorial work at HD in the future. Do you think you will have to change the way you work and think differently about the way you are publishing your content?

Sandra thinks that they have to start to think about how to publish the news, based on the type of content, instead of the editorial staff.

– The process of integrating the different channels into each other will be more important. I think that it will somehow be the ultimate test to see which newspaper that will make it out of this big crisis that we are in, that everybody is so afraid of.

– If we are starting to think about how we are going to, all together, work towards a goal of reaching out with our information and news. Then we are going to be successful, Sandra says.

CMW: Why are journalists avoiding to embrace the internet and use it the way it can be used? Is it about fear, laziness or convenience?

Sandra does not think it is laziness and it is not the lack of journalistic confidence. She thinks it is about fear. Not knowing how to use the technical tools and how to communicate on the web.

– You just have to somehow go over the threshold and try it once for yourself and see that you can’t ruin everything. We have backup systems, she says.

Sandra thinks that the biggest challenge of reaching out to a journalist who is not used to working with the internet, is to show them that it is not dangerous. It is not going to make them look stupid. That it is going to help them and that is going to change the way they will go about their work in the future.

– People that are very humble and say that: ”I don’t know this but I’m willing to learn,” that’s an amazing start. If I just get that, I am very happy, she says.

When Sandra teaches her colleagues at how to use the blog tool, they sit down and walk it through step by step. After trying it out for themselves for a while, they do think it is so much fun and easy. She believes that you should not be afraid of the blogs just because the word blog is misused by a lot of people, it is an information source like everything else.

Sandra did work for Mindpark earlier this year. Mindpark is a web developing agency with the swedish morning newspaper industry as its main clients and beneficiaries.

Sandra Jakob and Joakim Jardenberg had this conversation (in Swedish) on her first day at work.

[Roughly translated]: The conversation, which contained nine parts of laughter and one part of seriousness (before the editing) was about why journalists should blog, why user generated content is a good thing and a little about where Rubbet is heading. [Published at 2008 03 06]

Joakim asked Sandra if she could come up with a more suitable word for the concept user generated content. She promised to think about it.

CMW repeated that question and asked her if she had managed to find a better word for the interchange of content and information:

Sandra has thought about it but she thinks it is hard to find a new word, because it is user generated content. Even though she does not like the word user.

– They are people that we work with, because they send us their pictures and their movies. They call us and give us information, she says.

Sandra believes that user generated content is the best terminology at the moment.

In the Mindpark sofa, Sandra also talked about the need of linking to the blog, as the original source of the news or the conversation.

CMW asked her if she still thinks it is the way to work. Does link to bloggers and external sites?

– Yes, I still think it is is the only way to go, Sandra says.

Sandra think it is important to pick up subjects that people are talking about and that it is important to give credit to the person that wrote about it on her/his blog. She thinks that if they start a conversation about the subject, it will only benefit the newspaper in the future. Sandra hopes that people will see that the newspaper do respect their work and what they are doing and that they do want to be in contact with them.

Sandra has not yet any example of a local blogger that has been creating any news for, but she does hope that it will happen soon. But they have been writing about bloggers and the internet.

– Then we are always make sure that we do link back to the person that we are writing about, she says.

CMW: The web is about conversations and expressing personal thoughts. Do you think that journalists should be more open with their personal opinions?

Sandra has an example from sports blog Sportbloggen. In the beginning they were only linking to funny YouTube clips.

– It did generate a lot of ha ha-comments, but it is nothing that will draw attention in the end, Sandra says.

She advised them to have a personal opinion. If they can have that in a column in the newspaper they can have that on a blog too.

– But, you have to think about it. What am I comfortable with saying? Can I stand for this?, Sandra says.

Sandra believes that you have to be comfortable with what you are saying on the blog. If your are not, maybe you should not do it. They want their journalists to blog, but everybody might not be comfortable doing it.

– If you are open with where you stand and what you think, the audience is going to respect you more, she says.

CMW: How are journalists going to handle transparency? Is there a good transparency level for a journalist?

– There is a bad transparency level, let’s start with that, it is so much easier, Sandra says.

She thinks that a bad transparency is when you tell everybody who gave you that tip. All of their sources are protected by the Swedish law. But a good level of transparency would be to be more open with the process of working as a journalist. It could be as a blog where you write about what kind of seminars and conferences you go to and tell more about how you find information about the subject you are writing about.

– I would love to see somebody who writes about the process and all the frustration there is to be a journalist. It is not always that fun even though we love it. Because there are people hanging up on you, people not liking you. Maybe you get the answers that you would like but it still doesn’t happened. Or you don’t get the result you would like to have, Sandra says.

She believes that bad transparency is when you tell people exactly who told you what, that is gossip. Good transparency is being open with the process, how you think, how you work, how you relate to your readers – both negatively and positively. And It is important to be honest.

– Because if you’re not honest, in the end it is coming back to bite you, Sandra says.

CMW: Do you still think that the internet is something good and useful for a journalist?

As a curious journalist Sandra does think that internet is an amazing way of possibilities and she loves the conversation that is going on out there, even though you have to be critical as usual against information and disinformation.

Sandra talks about the way the Swedish blogs handled the FRA affair. She thinks that it is a good example of a subject raised by bloggers and that ended up as a discussion in old media.

– I can only see the internet as a very positive thing, she says.

CMW: What do you think the newspaper will look like within five years. Do you think that they are still going to exist in print?

Sandra does still believe in the printed newspaper but not the way it looks like today. But she thinks it should be more of a magazine and not be distributed seven days a week. Maybe three days a week, or just over the weekend. A magazine that is going to be customized. More feature, more background and more thoughts.

– I still believe in print in some other way than we have today. The feeling of using print paper and have it in your hand, is something that we can not replace with a PDA or a mobile phone, she says.

CMW: Where do you see yourself with in five years?

Sandra hopes she will be able to dedicate herself full time working with inspiring colleagues to use the internet in a useful way. Integrating and developing newsrooms for the internet. She hopes to be working, not with in the news rush, but with people that works with news and that are interested in new ways to come out with their information and keep track on what is happening on the internet.

– I love developing stuff for newsrooms and news organizations. I hope I will be able to work with something like that, she says.

Sandra Jakob ends our conversation with a request. Sandra would like to have a conversation about online journalism if you are interested, you are welcome to contact her at

And of course and as always, you are welcome to post your thoughts about this subject as a comment.

Related post: Will there be a dark period for journalism? Joakim Jardenberg at Mindpark on how Helsingborgs Dagblad can survive as an online paper. A version in Swedish at

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november 28th, 2008

Good use of microblogging in journalism – give us more examples!

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Whether status updates on social media sites should count as microblogging or not, the walled garden that Facebook still is to a large extent, makes status updates if not useless from a publishing perspective then atleast difficult to accommodate as they are on an open to all site. The same goes for users whose updates are not public on regular microblogging services. For crowdsourcing, feedback and research they are still good tools.

There are good examples of microblogging serving a journalistic purpose, though these initiative do not necessarily come from professional journalists.

  • The Twitter Vote Report is one, where Americans across the country made short reports on how the voting in the US election was really going, using hashtags to pinpoint where they were and what their report was about, for instance #machine for problems with the voting machines. They also reported on waiting times. It all ended up on a big map where you could follow the progress in real time.
  • Get eye-witness reports and comments. For instance check out this Twitter channel on the bombings in Mumbai. More on the Mumbai coverage here.
  • Live reporting from an event. By using an established microblogging site you get comments from site members and you invite them in a natural way.
  • Live commentary to tv shows. One example is Drive on Fox.
  • Coming up with questions for interviews. By asking people what they want to know from a person you’re to interview you get more interesting questions, and you know you’re asking stuff your audience want to know.
  • Local news gathering. Here’s an interesting example from Harrisonburg, VA. Or even as a source for bigger breaking news.
  • Cynthia McCune talks about microblogging as a ”21st century police scanner”, listing these uses for reporters: keep up with sources, get quick feedback, get referrals, post live updates to sport scores.
  • Breaking news. Anders Brenna at writes: ”Twitter is both the perfect journalist tool for being first with breaking news, and the best relief from the tyranny of breaking news.” Super-fast publishing of the latest news without risking that the reader won’t come to your site for the full story. You can even send a message and point to it once it’s out.
  • Paul Bradshaw has some advice for anyone wanting to use microblogging to cover a topic. Check out the comments too for a few ideas on good use.
  • Another post on how news makers have to change and use micro-blogging tools.

Do you have more good examples? We’ll collect them and update this list (giving you credit, of course).

Also, here’s some advice on what not to do.

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november 20th, 2008

Dan Gillmor's new book – a guide for news consumers

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Dan GillmorWho can we trust in an age when anyone can be a journalist? How do we know? As citizen journalism has taken quite a bit of beef lately, especially after the Steve Jobs supposed heart attack debacle, Dan Gillmor‘s new book project couldn’t come at a better time.
He is writing a book to educate not the citizen journalists, but the readers/viewers/users of news, he revealed at the Blogboat event in Belgium. He thinks readers should not just accept what’s written as the truth. They need to do research.
– That’s exactly what the people who sold their stocks after hearing that Steve Jobs had a heart attack, didn’t do. It was their stupidity to immediately believe that false news. Which makes them responsible as well, and not only the citizen journalist who wrote the article, he said, according to the blog Theicecreamdebate.
He also listed these five principles for news consumers:

  • scepticism
  • judgement
  • research
  • independence
  • recognize persuasion techniques

In a recent interview at DigitalJournal, Dan Gillmor said:
– We’ve all been consuming news in different ways since the Net came along. We are good at deciding what we trust and what we can’t trust. Everyone needs to learn to be skeptical of absolutely everything. That includes the local or national paper or TV broadcast.
– At same time, people need to go outside what they normally read and look for things that challenge their worldviews. They need to learn media techniques, including how the media is used to persuade the public.

Update: I just remembered that Dan Gillmor actually mentioned his new book project when he spoke to a bunch of people at Aftonbladet in early 2007. Here’s a sound clip. Pardon the bad quality.

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november 18th, 2008

Will there be a dark period for journalism?

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Will we see the collapse of journalism as papers fail to take the step over from dead wood publishing? Or are we at a dawn of a smarter news industry? Opinions vary, and we take a look at what some are saying right now.

Joi Ito at SIME '08At SIME, Joi Ito expressed concerns that professional journalism journalism may perish.
– It would be very difficult for a blogger to get a military unit to fly them into Sudan to cover that in first-hand. It would also be very difficult when you write a scathing article about corruption in Singapore to fight the libel suit you get from Lee Kuan Yew and try to stay out of jail. Legal protection against libel suits and also heavily funded first-person war journalism, that’s going to be a while before amateurs will be able to deal with that, he said, and continued:
– I think that everywhere where we’re losing the revenues of physical distribution or transaction costs, whether that’s the financial markets affording analysts or whether it’s academic journalism affording peer review, all these professionals that used to be hired to deal with quality are being put out of business because the distribution can’t afford to pay those guys anymore, they’re all suffering from the same thing. I think bloggers and all the amateurs will pick up a bunch of that, but there’s still going to be this gap. I think it’s going to be a while before we get organized enough. And I’m afraid that professional journalism may collapse before we pick up, and there may be a kind of a ”dark period” when we can’t send people to Sudan or we don’t have the ability to fight against the biggotous people that we ought to be going after.

David Sifry at SIME '08David Sifry thinks the future of journalism lies within the blogosphere.
– I think we actually have a responsibility, given the fact that we are all disintermediating these big media companies, to make sure that we can find a way to help make sure that journalism survives.

Joi Ito and David Sifry in a panel debate about blogging and journalism during SIME 2008.

Joakim JardenbergYesterday, Joakim Jardenberg of Mindpark wrote a long blog post describing the steps necessary for a paper distribution-dependent local newspaper to make enough money online to be able to survive without the paper edition, should that be necessary. It’s in Swedish, so I’ll take you through his main points.

His solution has three parts: having enough visitors, knowing/keeping track of visitors and using advanced mechanisms to match them with advertisers. Like Jardenberg says, this is no rocket science and behavioural targeting is nothing new. But it hasn’t been evolved enough, and that’s why Jardenberg’s take is interesting. He gives an example with real figures from local paper Helsingborgs Dagblad, and he’s pretty convincing. They need a 40 percent share of the money spent on local advertising in their area to make it.
Though the solution can be explained in a few simple steps, those are not easy steps to take, and Jardenberg is aware of it. He lists these obstacles (my translation):

  • Technology isn’t quite mature enough. But with baby steps in the right directions we’ll make it in time.
  • Local sites might lose their relevance. Without an audience the revenue model collapses.
  • We might not have the stamina. This won’t pay off tomorrow. Count on 5-10 years to reach those 40% in a healthy way.
  • Our sales force is immature, we still sell paper ads online. Our main advantage, our local sales people, are also those who need to change the most.

Joakim Jardenberg's slide on HD's reach
A slide in a presentation by Joakim Jardenberg about the decline in Helsingborg Dagblad’s reach.

Jardenberg goes into more detail, and has interesting ideas about data collection and transparency, so if you’re interested, here’s a rough translation of the text through Google Translate. On the whole, he is optimistic about the future of journalism.

The death of local relevance, as mentioned by Jardenberg above, is one of two threats addressed by Jonathan Kay in a blog post at Canada’s National Post’s Comment section’s blog, Full Comment. Kay talks about saving the print media, but this could well be applied to local journalism on the whole.
Kay writes:

The breakdown of Canadians’ sense of community has also contributed to newspapers’ challenges. Slogging through stories about the people who share your city, your province or your country makes sense only if you feel a sense of emotional investment in your neighbours. But in a globalized age, an increasing share of Canadians don’t feel that way. As office-bound yuppies, they commune with their distant college-era friends using Facebook or email, but don’t know the names of the people they pass on their street.

Kay’s other point is the death of spare time. If people don’t have time to read, journalism is in trouble. Print even more so. The three types of print media that will survive are, according to Kay:

(1) Business-oriented media that cater to older, more affluent readers of the type who can justify the expense of long-form news consumption (in both time and money) as a work activity.

(2) Premium publications that cater to the ideologically involved and intellectually upscale

(3) The hyperlocal.

As Kay is talking about the survival of print, I am a bit surprised about his third point. I think hyperlocal is one of the areas where the web can bring so much more than a print product, as it’s all about communication and round the clock updates.
But then, hyperlocal sites are struggling. When Gitta and I talked to Joi Ito a few days ago, he said hyperlocal is failing because local businesses aren’t mature enough online. I think that’s a valid point, and I believe that once they mature and more and more people expect to find hyperlocal news online, this is a very interesting area.

My own take is that journalism will survive and come out stronger and better through this media shift, though it will take a few years of struggle. And it may not look exactly like it does today at the end of it. Which is probably a good thing.

Update: There’s a Swedish version of this text availble at Mindpark where we were invited to guest blog.

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november 16th, 2008

Tomas and Kristin podcasting What's Next

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

If you’re a Swede and interested in what’s happening on the web and in new media, I’m sure you can’t have missed the podcast What’s Next. With a background in radio journalism, hosts Tomas Wennström and Kristin Heinonen are doing a great job keeping us updated about news in this field. They are also very creative in other ways. For instance check out this presentation of their suggestion as to how Swedish paper Sydsvenska Dagbladet could improve their website.

During SIME, the What’s Next duo did several recordings, and Citizen Media Watch filmed this clip from a session last Wednesday. Apart from Tomas and Kristin, the panel consists of Björn Falkevik, Anton Johansson and Fredrik Wass.

For those of you who don’t understand Swedish, you can see this as an example of how you can make a great podcast production with very simple means.

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