Archives for posts with tag: business

Unity - Journalists of Color logoThe hardest part of becoming an entrepreneur is putting a good idea into action. The second-hardest part is money. But if you’re a member of AAJA, NABJ, NAHJ or NAJA, here’s help:

Unity: Journalists of Color has launched a new program called “The New U: News Entrepreneurs Working through Unity.” The four member organizations (that’d be those acronyms at the top) will be giving away slices of a $100,000 Ford Foundation grant to applicants who have the best-laid plans for a sustainable small business.

Applications are open now.

Winning applicants not only get money, they’ll get two days of mentoring at one of the national conventions — which one depends on which organization the applicant belongs to. I’ll be among the mentors at the AAJA and NABJ workshops, working to lay solid foundations for long-term success.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a business, but need guidance and seed funding, this is your chance.

NAHJ’s convention is coming up first (June 23-26), so they’ll be fielding the first candidates. If you have questions in the meantime, ask in a comment.

For reference:
NAJA convention (July 21-24), St. Paul, Minnesota
NABJ convention (July 28- Aug. 1), San Diego
AAJA convention (Aug. 4-7), Los Angeles

By now you’ve probably read about the shuttering of the Rocky Mountain News, which foundered under rising costs and falling revenues.

The Denver Post put together a photo tribute to is scrappy rival.

Staff at The Rocky produced their own thoughtful wrap video.


Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

The Rocky’s closure means Denver now has just one newspaper (with a website) that covers the city. But there are still several TV news stations (with websites) and lots of blogs.

People will miss The Rocky’s particular editorial mix, the stories and the bond that comes from strongly identifying with anything well-loved, and having gone through the particular heartbreak of losing a daily in a two-paper town, I know what that’s like.

But I wonder what this says about the way businesses are run. While I haven’t closely studied what happened to The Rocky, it seems this wasn’t a problem of content or editorial overreaching — it was a top-notch, locally focused news outlet. The problem, it seems, was one of being a line item on a debt-heavy corporate balance sheet.

Someone once said the first rule of blogging is to do it regularly. The second is not to begin with an apology if you go silent without a heads up.

Screw the rules.

The Times of South Africa Newsroom by Gregor Rohrig

For the last few weeks, I’ve been asking a lot of people how news organizations can do a better job of providing and being a conduit for information and discussion while making enough money to sustain a business.

That last part is probably the most difficult question to answer. Most recently, media consultant Michael Rosenblum urged media companies to come up with a new business model for the realities of today.

Apparently, media CEOs were stymied. But there are examples out there:

David Cohn has proposed community-funded reporting and runs Spot.us, the live test. ProPublica uses the non-profit model to pay for investigative reporting. The Guardian in Britain is set up as a public trust.

So I ask you: what should we be doing to ensure there will be money to pay for the labor-intensive craft of news gathering?

Leave a comment below or send me your ideas. If the CEOs don’t know where to start, maybe we, the online collective can show the way.

I’ve been talking with people in social media, information visualization, grassroots reporting and news companies. I’ve wanted to talk with media buyers as well, but don’t have contacts. Do you?

Not related, but possibly useful to you: Thanks to the organizers of Capitolbeat, I was a conference panelist on a session about online fact checking with UNC assistant professor Andy Bechtel and staff reporter Taft Wireback of the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. (You’ll find the links on my Delicious page.)

Photo: The (South Africa) Times newsroom by Gregor Rohrig/Flickr

The news business, and it is a business, is getting squeezed. There are those who think “big J” journalism is a waste of effort and resources at a time when we can count exactly how many people spend time reading the stories, watching the videos, and clicking around on our interactive features.

Strapped for cash, the easy answer is to do things that drive traffic: produce more photo galleries; publish more “gotchas,” celebrity and entertainment news; follow and there by feed controversy; play up drama and conflict.

Does that mean that the fundamental mission of journalism — to find answers to incisive questions; to explore and reveal the world around us; to gather and check facts and report back; to challenge authority — ought to be left in the wings while we make enough money to get us past this rough patch?

Tim Robbins, actor, director and activist, had a few things to say about that during the National Association of Broadcasters conference, which closed last week.

Maybe we the public don’t need the things Robbins is talking about, but clearly, the numbers show us it’s what people are paying attention to. On the other hand, in surveys and day-to-day conversation, people say they want something better than what’s on offer.

So I ask: As a member of the public — not as a journalist — what kinds of stories do you seek out? How do you spend your time when you’re not working on news? And if you’re not in the media business, what do you spend your time looking for, reading and watching? And what aren’t you finding that you’d like to find?

You may have spent several minutes (or hours) of your day sifting through the rants on AngryJournalist.

One of the main problems I see is it’s a lot of venting and no resolution.

Businesspeople will tell you complaining will only get you fired. Raise a complaint and propose a solution, though, and the people in charge — if they’re smart — might just listen.

Cory Bergman at the TV-oriented site Lost Remote has started a thread for ticked-off Web producers who want to fix what’s wrong with online news.

Check it out and join the conversation.

Steve Outing, “Stop the Presses” columnist and online media consultant just launched a new site aimed at those looking for ideas to increase news website readership and make money.

Not all of Outing’s recommendations are earthshaking, but the comments will probably prove to be the true goldmine.

On a post about showing the numbers associated with “most emailed” stories to show weight and scale in addition to popularity, commenter Dave Bullard notes that the numbers are also a form of audience approval. Bullard writes:

“Perhaps you find a place on the home page for comments from readers, as in, ‘This is a great resource! Beats the paper six ways to Sunday. Keep up the good work!’

“Rotate those comments, and reinforce them by sending the commenter a little piece of branded swag.”

The editorial side might hate it, but think about the last time you went to a movie because your newspaper’s reviewers gave it a thumbs up.

Get in on the ground floor and join in the discussions.

By coincidence, Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine was also thinking money today.

In his latest post, Jarvis suggests everyone take a step back and try to summarize specific problems your business faces before charging ahead with strategies and solutions.

Engineers use this “define the problem, then create solutions” approach, Jarvis notes. So do lawyers and economists, and they’re coming up with creative, workable solutions all the time.

Think about it: What, specifically, are the hurdles your news organization faces? Don’t think of answers yet. Just carefully form the question and post it as a comment either here, or on BuzzMachine.

By the way, Jarvis is organizing a follow-up to last year’s Networked Journalism Summit

. This year’s event in May will focus on business models. Details TK.