Each week, we've focused on the ways that the news industry is falling apart or otherwise failing to come together.
This week, our focus is on the ways that those who in the industry are working to build networks in an effort to survive and reinvigorate.
The Future of Journalism
Everyone has an idea, but not too many seem to be actually facilitating project aimed at saving, evolving, or otherwise reinventing the news media. Spot.us, however has a plan.
A non-profit startup that works to distributes the cost of hiring a journalist across a community of people, Spot.us funds stories for journalists. After a story is funded and the final copy is turned in, Spot.us will try to sell the first publishing rights. If that happens, then any money they make goes back to the original donors so they can reinvest in another story.
They are currently funded through a grant, but also undertake community fundraising, asking for US$ 2.00 donations per story. All money raised goes to the organization itself and with the hope that it can expand beyond its home base in San Francisco. But, because Spot.us is an open source initiative, there's no need to wait for them to come to your city. Anyone can launch a site like this for your own community.
Focus on Community
Spot.us isn't just a hair-brained scheme. Its focus on community is significant. David Carr, media and culture columnist for the New York Times suggests that focusing on the community can work wonders for newspapers.
In a recent column he talks about the Austin Chronicle and how community events, like SXSW have become synonymous with the city, adding value to the way the newspaper covers the local events, while building a loyal group of followers which has kept the newspaper in business.
Carr's theory is striking considering the NYT's recent launch of The Local -- a new community blog about five New York/New Jersey neighborhoods. Once, it was enough to claim that a newspaper brought you the world. Now, it seems that all we want is a community.
Meeting Readers' Needs to Survive
What does it mean when the Newspaper Association of America invites Google to speak at their convention? It means they're desperate and ready to do what it takes to turn things around.
Eric Schmidt, chief executive at Google told members of the NAA that newspapers remained a fundamental part of modern life, and that the key for their future growth would be finding a way to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies, such as mobile platforms. He also mentioned that one of the fundamental reasons for problems within the industry had been newspapers’ failure to meet readers’ wishes and embrace new digital platforms.
The Mobile AP
Speaking of mobile platforms, the Associated Press (despite their copyright witch hunt) is boasting about their Digital Cooperative.
The initiative is described as a searchable content warehouse that allows for a broad range of digital revenue models, including paid content. Part of the cooperative includes the work they've done with AP Mobile, a project that was launched a year ago and now touts more than 1,100 members who have signed up to create branded news.
This week, they announced the testing of a paid mobile application with the BlackBerry. The AP seems to have a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde persona. One day they are excited to make all their content searchable and accessible and the next, they don't hesitate to sue anyone who uses their content.