Citizen Media Watch

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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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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mars 2nd, 2008

67 percent of Americans think journalism is "out of touch"

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The results of a recent We Media/Zogby Interactive poll shows that two thirds of the American respondents think that traditional journalism is ”out of touch” with its audience and its needs. This despite the fact that almost half of the respondents use the internet as their primary news source.
There are indeed great challenges ahead for media sites, around the world. I think Nachison is right – quality is the key.

”For the second year in a row we have documented a crisis in American journalism that is far more serious than the industry’s business challenges – or maybe a consequence of them,” said Andrew Nachison, co-founder of iFOCOS. ”Americans recognize the value of journalism for their communities, and they are unsatisfied with what they see. While the U.S. news industry sheds expenses and frets about its future, Americans are dismayed by its present. Meanwhile, we see clearly the generational shift of digital natives from traditional to online news – so the challenge for traditional news companies is complex. They need to invest in new products and services – and they have. But they’ve also got to invest in quality, influence and impact. They need to invest in journalism that makes a difference in people’s lives. That’s a moral and leadership challenge – and a business opportunity for whoever can meet it.”


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juni 2nd, 2007

Law enforcement in virtual worlds

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Interesting Washington Post piece on law enforcement in virtual worlds like Second Life or the game World of Warcraft.

Two years ago, Japanese authorities arrested a man for carrying out a series of virtual muggings in another popular game, Lineage II, by using software to beat up and rob characters in the game and then sell the virtual loot for real money.

The key question is whether for instance rape, child abuse, mugging and killing online should be compared to these acts in the real world. And if so, which country’s laws should the crimes fall under.

Philip Rosedale, the founder and chief executive of Linden Labs, said in an interview that Second Life activities should be governed by real-life laws for the time being. He recounted, for example, that his company has called in the FBI several times, most recently this spring to ensure that Second Life’s virtual casinos complied with U.S. law. Federal investigators created their own avatars and toured the site, he said.

In coming months, his company plans to disperse tens of thousands of computer servers from California and Texas to countries around the world in order to improve the site’s performance. Also, he said, this will make activities on those servers subject to laws of the host countries.


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juni 2nd, 2007

Gillmor at Where2.0: Where are the journalists?

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

I just read Dan Gillmor‘s comment on the Where2.0 conference in San Jose, which was all about location, geotagging, mashups etc. Gillmor is wondering why few journalists are there.

I don’t mean reporters who may be covering the conference. No, I’m talking about “database journalists” who use technology to help tell stories better. They should be here because some of the technology being shown here could easily be the basis for some extraordinary community information — if journalists have the common sense to use it.

Mapping and data that can be geo-coded — put into databases that can populate or link to maps — are an enormously powerful tool. It’s mind-boggling to me that more news organizations aren’t taking advantage of the possibilities, or, in most cases, even bothering to learn what’s possible.

Geotagging is opening up great possibilities for journalists. But we need to use these possibilities, learn more about them. Others will.
Wishing I could have gone to Where2.0.

Also wish I could have gone to Reboot. Seems like it was a great success.


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mars 23rd, 2007

Congdon laughingly breaks the rules of journalism – gets fatherly piece of advice

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Interesting piece by Daniel Terdiman on Cnet about Amanda Congdon‘s refusal to live by journalistic rules/standards, even after starting working for ABC News.

there’s a bit of a kerfuffle going on right now in light of revelations that even as she has been producing stories for ABCNews.com, she has also been performing in infomercials for DuPont, one of the largest companies in the world.

Congdon herself mocks or atleast laughs at the whole thing in her blog.

ABC and HBO both approved the DuPont spots. And under the “blogger” title, which is what I am, hello? I am not subject to the “rules” traditional journalists have to follow.

Isn’t that what new media is all about? Breaking the rules? Setting our own? I see nothing wrong with doing commercials, which is what they, quite transparently, are.

I definitely think Terdiman has a point when he sends a bit of advice Congdon’s way:

That attitude is more one of someone intent on being a performer, not a journalist. And while bloggers generally don’t have to answer to anyone except themselves and, to some extent, their readers, Congdon is in a totally unique category: She is a blog-bred personality who has crossed over to the mainstream. If she was video blogging for ABC.com, that would be one thing. But her work appears on the news site, and that makes her part of the news team.

So, while she is a nice person, and seems to have good intentions, I think Congdon may well want to think about whether she wants a future in journalism. If not, then she’s fine. But if she does, she may be burning bridges which she can’t cross again.

More on Amanda Congdon’s career: From Rocketboom to the newsroom


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mars 22nd, 2007

Smaller closed communities more engaging

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Participants are more active in smaller niche communities than in larger communities with a broader interest. This is shown in the recent resarch results from Communispace, a company that specializes in – surprise, surprise – niche communities.
They write:

In this new era of ”conversational marketing”, the measure for engagement in a community isn’t the number of people logging on. Rather, it’s how actively people participate in the community

The study measured frequency of contributions, number of contributions per member and lurker rate among 26 539 members of 66 private online communities.
Private, facilitated communities of around 300-500 members got the most active members, with a lurking percentage of only 14 percent.

In contrast, on public social networking websites, blogs, and message boards, this ratio is typically reversed, i.e., the vast majority of site visitors do not contribute. In fact, in a typical online forum (e.g., wiki, community, message board or blog), one percent of site visitors contribute and the other 99 percent lurk.

The results also indicate the importance of transparency, showing higher activity in branded sites where it is clearly stated who’s behind the community. Communities for parents are the most active among those studied, and communities based on a geographic location got high levels of participation too.
These results are not surprising – the more ”social glue”, the more engaging a community is. What was a little interesting to see though, was that same-sex communities get more participation than mixed-sex ones.

The white paper will soon be available in its entirety at http://www.communispace.com/3_news/perspectives.asp


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mars 13th, 2007

Al Gore brings Current TV to the UK and Ireland

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Al Gore. Photo: Current TVCurrent TV, the interactive tv network founded by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt in 2005, has now launched its UK version. With air time on both Sky and Virgin Media platforms in the UK and Ireland, the channel can add 10 million homes covered to its 40 million in the US.
Company chairman Al Gore explained to the Associated Press what he sees as the thing that sets Current TV apart from other channels.

Gore said Current TV was designed – to democratize the medium of television and open it up to voices, so people can join the global conversation.
Mainstream television, he says, is a one-way conduit, and – a conversation that shuts out individuals begins to get a bit stale.
Gore and his co-founder Joel Hyatt bill Current TV as – television for the Internet generation of tech-savvy 18-to-34 year olds who demand interactivity and, it seems, have short attention spans.

In connection with the launch, Current TV announced a contest where three winners get to have lunch with Al Gore in London. It’s about shooting what Current TV calls a pod – a 3-5 minute ”non-fiction video that tells a story, profiles a character or place, and/or shares an idea” – and uploading it to the current.tv site.

A third of the content on Current TV is made up by pods like this. The content is very segmented – here’s a sample hour:

Sample hour

As you can see, Current TV also partners with Google. And they’ve put extra effort into making people with a background in journalism contribute to the site and tv channel through its Current Journalism program.

”Welcome to UK and Ireland”, writes US current.tv blogger Amanda Zee, who reports that the UK team has been working hard to make the launch.

I’ve only been over here for four days, but the team at Current UK has been working toward this for months, seemingly non-stop. No matter what time I’ve been in the San Francisco office, there’s always someone in the London one available to answer questions — and if you do the time-zone math, you’ll know just how crazy that is. Hopefully now they’ll have a chance to enjoy what they’ve made.


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mars 1st, 2007

Community building at Borders – online book clubs

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Borders book club

Urban Lindstedt writes about Borders book club, and community building at the book store chain. They collaborate with gather.com, a topics based community service where participants rate others’ contributions and earn points from writing popular posts or inviting more people.
Like Lindstedt writes, the content of the book club is rather limited. So far it has 129 members, which is even less than I have on my slumbering mailing list on creative writing in Swedish, but I guess it’s at an early stage.

What I like about it is that Borders set out to facilitate discussions around the books they sell, and you can reserve the upcoming book club books online and get 20 percent off at your local Borders book store. Each month four new books are presented, and at the Gather book club community the author of each book writes a piece about it, which the members can comment on and discuss with him or her. There are also reading guides available for the books.

Book club visitors are also encouraged to start their own book clubs – either on Gather for online discussions, or in real life – where they can discuss books of their own choosing.


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februari 6th, 2007

New report: Citizen media here to stay

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

The Institute for Interactive Journalism, J-Lab, has released a lenthy study on hyperlocal citizen media and its sustainability over time. In a news release, J-Lab writes:

Most citizen media ventures are shoestring labors of love, funded out of the founders’ own pockets, and staffed by volunteer content contributors. While they’d like more readers and revenues, site founders nevertheless professed a solid resolve to continue: 51% said they didn’t need to make money to keep going; 82% said they planned to continue ”indefinitely.” Nearly all would welcome reinforcements and the ability to make even token payments to writers.

”While not all individual sites will continue to operate, we project that the phenomenon of citizen media will be sustainable, with new sites coming online in serial fashion to replace those that collapse as their founders burn out,” Schaffer said.

73 percent of 500 citizens who participated in the survey think of their sites as a success. Shaffer in the quote above is Jan Schaffer, J-Lab’s Executive Director.

Read more:
The full report at Knight Citizen News Network

(via Center for Citizen Media)


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