Posts about networkedjournalism

Google’s killer crowdsourcing tool

I just created a questionnaire asking what you would kill in a newspaper’s budget if you had to cut costs. Please do go fill it out now.

This is made possible by the new Google Forms, which enables you to create web or email forms people can fill out, with the results pouring into a spreadsheet. This is incredible for surveys and other projects in which you want to gather a lot of data — like WNYC’s Are You Being Gouged project. It’s so simple but so powerful.

(Inspired by Steve Rubel)

Davos08: Tiny cameras

Small video cameras are already the hot thing, gadgetwise, at this year’s Davos. Robert Scoble is broadcasting live from his mobile phone, as Jason Calacanis did at DLD. Loic LeMeur is making videos all over for Seesmic (with a bigger camera). I’m playing with the Reuters/Nokia mojo cameraphone (see the videos below). The YouTube Davos Conversation booth is recording the machers on video with tiny cameras.

And I showed my FlipVideo (the $79, 30-minute, dead-easy video camera) to Kai Diekmann, editor of the biggest paper, by far, in Germany: Bild. He gets thousands of photos from his readers, who send it up to a simple number via their mobile phones. Now he’s practicing networked journalism and assigning and mobilizing them to shoot things. He also told me that next week, they’ll have a top chef from a popular German food show telling readers in the paper to send in videos that he will put on his show. Where’s the line among media there? Diekmann is then doing with videos what he did with phones and so he was wowed by the Flip and wants to order a thousand of htem. That’s what happens whenever I show it to open-minded new people: I tell them they should buy them by the dozen and distribute them to their readers to become producers. Here’s Diekmann:

Keller responds

Bill Keller of the Times responded to my complaint about his speech and characterization of my views about professional, mainstream media and journalism and citizens. I’m glad we’re moving closer together but I still want to correct the record. The exchange. First, from Keller:

* * *

Jeff,

After reading your long response to my Guardian speech, I concede it’s time to push the Refresh button on my summary of the debate. It’s clear that you (and others I used to think of as blog triumphalists) have moved some distance from our 2005 “citizen journalist” exchange and from the day you lectured a New York Times offsite meeting about the certain doom mainstream media faced at the hands of amateur journalists (bloggers) and our own readers (Digg was big on your agenda that night.) I hope it’s clear — from what we’re doing on our website, and from that speech last week — that I’ve moved some distance in your direction. My respect for blogs as a tool of journalism is not the least bit grudging, and my conviction that professional journalists should collaborate with their audience is heartfelt. That’s especially true when you have an audience as educated and engaged as ours.

We may — I’m not really sure — disagree on the relative parts to be played by the amateur and the professional in our journalistic future, or on the pace of change. We don’t disagree on the value of what you call “networked journalism.”

My aim in the speech was not to demonize anyone, but to give heart to the many journalists and consumers of journalism who worry that quality journalism is endangered. For all the many things the new medium has brought, it has not supplanted trained reporters in the field, the discipline of good editors, or the backing of brave and independent journalistic institutions. And many mainstream journalists have proven themselves enthusiastic and agile practitioners of the new forms. The enemy, as I said in the speech, is not disruptive technology, not bloggers, not press-hostile government. It is the despair that derives from an inability to see the enduring value of the old and the promise of the new.

Cheers,
Bill

* * *

My response:

Bill,

Thanks so much for the response. I’m delighted that we’re meeting on the road, even though neither of us is exactly sure where it will lead.

I’m particularly glad to hear you endorse the value of networked journalism and I eagerly await seeing collaborative efforts from the Times and its public. You do, indeed, have a very wise crowd and that is a mighty force waiting to be mobilized to serve journalism and society. If I may suggest, you might even want to ask them for collaborative ideas; I’m sure they will have many good ones.

I’m also eager to push that refresh button and move forward, not back, leaving this tiresome us-v-them debate behind.

But I can’t do so without still correcting the record. I’m afraid you misremember and thus mischaracterize my stand. And considering that I am teaching students bound for professional journalism at CUNY and that I write about this very topic for the Guardian, where you spoke, it’s important to me to be clear on that record.

I’ve never predicted and certainly have not wished for the doom of professional journalism. Quite the contrary, I have been arguing — apparently not clearly or forcefully enough — that collaboration among professionals and citizens is a key not just to survival but growth for journalism.

If you can show me a citation to the contrary, I’ll fess up to it. But I do not find the sentiment you refer to in our 2005 exchange. Neither did I find it in the presentation I gave at the Times offsite. I looked up that Powerpoint and it included these lines:

We live in a post-scarcity era
Q: How do you grow with a citizens’ media world that doubles every 5 months?
A: You share: content, training, tools, promotion, and, yes, revenue.

And this:

The crowd is wise.
How do we enable the people we called our audience to become our partners?

And this:

How do we break free of the shackles of our medium and our history and become enablers… aggregators… connectors… networkers… trainers… vetters… and members of our community?

At the end, I filled a few slides with ideas for collaborative, networked efforts with your wise crowd and ended them with this hope:

This is how we grow.

Bill, that doesn’t sound like the threat of a would-be conquerer or the schadenfreude of a blog triumphalist with a death wish for mainstream media and journalism. Because it’s not. I have been consistent in this: I argue that we need professional journalism and organizations to survive and prosper and I hope that one way, just one way, to help journalism — indeed, to help it grow — is to work collaboratively with the public because now we can. That was the point of my initial hubristic open letter to you that started our exchange. I want to see these worlds come closer together, not move farther apart. That is my constant theme.

So we agree that we need journalists trained and supported in reporting and neither I nor any blogger I read has ever suggested that they should be supplanted. They can, however, be complemented.

There is nothing to be served by continuing the us-v-them debate. It is unproductive and ultimately damaging and certainly has become boring. Can we mutually call it over? Yes, press that refresh button, please. Let’s talk instead about the new opportunities we have to support journalism — both the activities and the business of journalism — by using new tools, including those of collaboration. As I said in my blog response to your speech, I would very much like to hear your vision for that, your vision for the future we all want journalism to have.

Early next year, I’ll be holding a conference next door at CUNY on new businesses models for news. Let’s discuss it there.

As is my habit, I’ll be blogging this: a coda to our earlier exchange.

Thanks,

– jeff

* * *

LATER: Keller responded to my email and I to his, both below. I don’t intend to make this a Dickensian serial as was our last exchange. But I’ll share the latest. From Keller:

Jeff,
It’s nice to renew the conversation, and thanks for clarifying your views on the coexistence of professionals and amateurs. Whether or not you intended to come across as a blog triumphalist and prophet of mainstream media doom, that’s certainly the way your audience — at that Times event — understood you. Perhaps it was in the ear of the beholders. In any case, I’m happy to be corrected, and will be careful to credit your good sense and good will when this subject comes up again.
Cheers,
Bill

And my reply:

Bill,
Oh, doom is still possible if mainstream stewards do not care for their charges. We agree that the collapse of professional journalism would be tragic. I warn against that. But then, as I demonstrated with the slides I quoted in my last email, I try my best to suggest how that doom might be averted — and I’m glad to see the Times taking some of those steps. Does that make me an advocate of doom? Hardly. A prophet of doom? Not even. An ally in the race against doom? I’d hope so. I think this is a case of what I heard from the natives when I lived in California (and one also hears from veterans of therapy in New York): You and your colleagues may be “projecting.” I suggest that the paper’s management should stop seeing enemies at every corner and start seeing allies, even colleagues. That’s my point.
Onward. I’m eager to hear your ideas for collaboration with citizens and see these ideas in the paper and online.
best
jeff

* * *

Meanwhile, friend Jay Rosen sends this wonderful example of the potential for mobilizing citizens in acts of journalistic collaboration from — cough — the Washington Post and Dan Froomkin, writing at NewAssignment.net, HuffingtonPost, and Neiman Watchdog (now that’s thinking distributed):

Bloggers and other citizen journalists have a new and exciting opportunity to find and shed light on stories the mainstream media are missing – by combing through transcripts of recent Congressional oversight hearings. Without any fanfare, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has started posting preliminary transcripts of many of its hearings on its Web site, giving everyone a chance to pore through testimony and find news the MSM may have overlooked.

After four years during which virtually no administration officials were called to Capitol Hill to explain themselves, the new Democratic majority in January revived the tradition of closely examining Executive branch activities, with House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman leading the charge. But with a few exceptions, you wouldn’t know it from reading the paper or watching the news. One of the dirty little secrets of Washington journalism is that very few news organizations assign staff to cover anything but the most high-profile hearings and debates on Capitol Hill. As a result, few if any reporters show up for oversight hearings – and those who do tend to leave early. . . .

This is a great opportunity for citizen journalists to become Washington reporters. If you find some overlooked news in these or other transcripts, e-mail me your blog posts or your findings, and I’ll try to make sure that they aren’t overlooked as well.

Updating Bill Keller

In a speech in London for the Guardian, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller says this about bloggers and this blogger in particular:

My friend Jeff Jarvis, a blogger of long-standing and professor of journalism at the City University of New York, refers to news bloggers as “citizen journalists”, which has a sweet, idealistic ring to it. Jeff, like many of the most ardent true believers in the blog revolution, suggests that the mainstream media can be largely replaced by a self-regulating democracy of voices, the wisdom of the crowd.

First, I have never said that the crowd of bloggers would replace mainstream media and professional journalism. That’s a red herring that is too often attributed presumptively to bloggers and their advocates. It’s never properly cited because it can’t be. Where’s the link to the quote with me saying that? It’s fiction. I don’t say that. I don’t believe that. Jay Rosen shot that fish in the barrel a year and a half ago when he responded to hearing it again from Keller’s deputy Jon Landman:

Jay Rosen says that no one is saying that news will be decided by poll. Nobody is saying that we don’t need reporters. Nobody is saying that you should stop reporting and just listen. But these things are being said: The audience knows a lot of stuff and if you don’t tap that knowledge you’re not keeping up with your craft. And journalism has become interactive and if you’re not interacting, you’re not keeping up with your craft. And, he says, trust isn’t made the way it was; the trust transaction is different.

So can we please can that talk and stop accusing bloggers of wishing to eliminate journalists? The problem is, it serves the narrative Keller wants — and he’s not alone in this: to make us make them the enemy. The image they’re trying to present is that we, the people, are at their door trying to bash it down when, in truth, we’re only knocking and offering to help. Which leads to my second objection:

I have long since recanted the use of the phrase “citizen journalist.” I did, indeed, use it in an email/blog conversation with Keller back in 2005 (read from the bottom up), in which he suggested:

(btw, why “citizens”? Isn’t that a little insensitive to stateless bloggers, or bloggers bearing only green cards? “People’s media” strikes me as more inclusive, and it has a pedigree. Just a thought.)

A year later, I wrote:

I carry some of the blame for pushing “citizens’ media” and “citizen journalism” as terms to describe the phenomenon we are witnessing in this new era of news. Many of us were never satisfied with the terms, and for good reason. They imply that the actor defines the act and that’s not true in a time when anyone can make journalism. This also divides journalism into distinct camps, which only prolongs a problem of professional journalism — its separation from its public (as Jay Rosen points out). In addition, many professional journalists have objected that these terms imply that they are not acting as citizens themselves — and, indeed, I believe that the more that journalists behave like citizens, the stronger their journalism will be.

A that moment, I turned to using the phrase “networked journalism” and explained why:

“Networked journalism” takes into account the collaborative nature of journalism now: professionals and amateurs working together to get the real story, linking to each other across brands and old boundaries to share facts, questions, answers, ideas, perspectives. It recognizes the complex relationships that will make news. And it focuses on the process more than the product. . . .

In networked journalism, the public can get involved in a story before it is reported, contributing facts, questions, and suggestions. The journalists can rely on the public to help report the story; we’ll see more and more of that, I trust. The journalists can and should link to other work on the same story, to source material, and perhaps blog posts from the sources (see: Mark Cuban). After the story is published — online, in print, wherever — the public can continue to contribute corrections, questions, facts, and perspective … not to mention promotion via links. I hope this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as journalists realize that they are less the manufacturers of news than the moderators of conversations that get to the news.

Indeed, this led in a straight line to my application for a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and the hosting of the Networked Journalism Summit, which the aforementioned Jon Landman attended.

But Keller needs to set up his competitive straw man because he wants to calculate his value on what he controls more than what he enables:

It is certainly true that technology has lowered the barriers to entry in the news business. The old joke that freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one is now largely inoperative. Freedom of the press now belongs to anyone with an Internet Service Provider. This is all unsettling to the traditional news business, but it is also an opportunity. In an easy-entry business, success goes to those who – and here you must supply those ironic quote marks – move up the value chain. That is, you succeed by offering something of real value that the newcomers cannot match.

As it happens, newspapers have at least two important assets that none of the digital newcomers even pretend to match. One is that we deploy worldwide a corps of trained, skilled reporters to witness events and help our readers understand them. This work is expensive, laborious, sometimes unpopular, and occasionally perilous. . . .

The civic labour performed by journalists on the ground cannot be replicated by legions of bloggers sitting hunched over their computer screens. It cannot be replaced by a search engine. It cannot be supplanted by shouting heads or satirical television shows.

What is absent from the vast array of new media outlets is, first and foremost, the great engine of newsgathering – the people who witness events, ferret out information, supply context and explanation. . . .

And the other is that we have a rigorous set of standards. We have a code of accuracy and fairness we pledge to uphold, a high standard of independence we defend at all costs, and a structure of editorial supervision to enforce our standards.

Again, I hear no one saying he wants that work replicated. But can’t it be complemented? Witnesses to events can now help report what they see and context and explanation can come from both journalists and the experts they quoted who can now also publish. That means more journalism. I see that not as a competitive threat but as a grand opportunity. Knock, knock. Someone’s at the door, Bill. Invite them in. I’ve been suggesting that since 2005. Perhaps you can even teach them about your standards. I’ll offer your my classroom next door at CUNY and I’ll bring the bagels. Perhaps you can leave not just with a mutual understanding and respect but even with some journalism you can do together.

Keller tries to issue a caveat. Some of his best friends are bloggers.

I am a convert to blogs, those live, ad-libbed, interactive monologues that have proliferated by the millions, with an average audience consisting of the blogger and his immediate family. The Times actually produces more than 30 of them, in which our reporters muse on subjects ranging from soccer to health to politics. Blogs can swarm around a subject and turn up fascinating tidbits. They allow you to follow a story as it unfolds. And, yes, there are bloggers who file first-hand reports of their experiences from distant places, including Iraq – and sometimes their work is enlightening or intriguing. But most of the blog world does not even attempt to report. It recycles. It riffs on the news. That’s not bad. It’s just not enough. Not nearly enough.

No one says it’s enough. Point me to the person who does. Cite a quote.

If I were a Times blogger, I’d be insulted by this from my editor. They don’t just muse. They do report. And they dig up more than tidbits; they are writing news that starts online and ends up in the pages of the paper. In just the last week, talking with news executives from other large institutions, I’ve been praising those Times blogs, particularly Saul Hansell’s Bits blog, Virginia Heffernan’s video blog, and the campaign blog, Caucus.

In the rest of his speech, the meat of it, Keller is meant to talk about the state and future of newspapers. I don’t hear a vision for that future from him. He is confident in print, at least for sometime, at least at The Times. He is proud, with reason, of the paper’s migration of content onto the web. He confesses that he doesn’t know they will get to the Promised Land or what that land is. Instead, he offers his defense of the Times and its verities and value.

That’s the part that scares me. I so want to hear a vision for the future because I, too, am not sure how we’ll get there, but I wish that people in a position to execute their visions were eagerly trying many things to find some way over the void. Says Keller:

And then there is the business of our business. As has been widely reported, many daily newspapers are staggering from an exodus of subscribers, a migration of advertisers to the web, and the rising costs of just about everything. Newspapers are closing bureaus and hollowing out their reporting staffs.

At places where editors and publishers gather, the mood these days is funereal. Editors ask one another, “How are you?” in that sober tone one employs with friends who have just emerged from rehab or a messy divorce.

What I wish they were asking themselves instead is, “What’s new?”

* * *

I’ll leave it to others to dissect Keller’s views in his speech on America today, the Times’ verities, and the Bush White House:

The Bush administration has merely fed a current of public antipathy that has been running against us for a long time, a consequence of our own failings and, perhaps, a tendency to blame the messenger when news is bad.

For those collecting them, here is Keller on the Times and the start of the war in Iraq:

Even with audiences like this one, who are presumed to be well read and world-savvy, I’m constantly surprised by the presumption of bad faith when people talk about our business. That is in some measure the fault of our own shortcomings, the well-publicised examples of journalistic malfeasance, the episodes of credulous reporting in the prelude to the war in Iraq, the retreat of some news organisations from serious news into celebrity gossip, and so on. It also reflects the fact that we live in cynical times, in a clamorous new media world of hyperventilating advocacy. And so I always feel obliged to pause and state what, to me and many of you, is obvious. . . .

At the other end of the culpability scale, I’ve had a few occasions to write mea culpas for my paper after we let down our readers in more important ways, including for some reporting before the war in Iraq that should have dug deeper and been more sceptical about Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction. It’s not fun to take yourself to the woodshed, but it is essential to our credibility, and it is not something all institutions do. Come to think of it, we’re still waiting for the White House mea culpa on those elusive weapons of mass destruction.

: LATER: More comments over at Comment is Free.

On the Media: Open up

I’m a fan and loyal listener of On the Media. They devoted their entire show this week to the fate and future of the book and though it had plenty of good segments, I was frustrated listening to it because I knew of other interviews I wish they’d done that I could have suggested — if only they’d asked.

And so it struck me that On the Media should open up the process of making its show. When they decide to make an entire episode about one media topic — which I encourage to forestall the show’s slide into becoming just another politics and public affairs show — why shouldn’t they tell the audience — media-savvy, by definition — and ask them who they know and what they want to know. They could tell us what they’re thinking of making and we could beat that. If the BBC can publish its rundown for a daily news show to ask for input, why can’t OtM?

I would have told them about the Institute for the Future of the Book, which is doing fascinating work about not only the form of the book but the process of writing. I would have suggested that they report more about the new benefits being digital brings to books — being searchable, linkable, lasting. I might have liked to have heard a debate about John Updike’s screed against digital at the booksellers’ convention a year ago. I could have sent them lots of links about all this (and I’m not pushing to be interviewed myself… though it has been awhile). I know that many members of their audience would have had more more good suggestions.

OtM did invite listener participation. They asked us to submit 12-word novels and they read the 12 best. They were amazed at the response; that should tell them something. They asked us to design their T-shirt. And that’s cute. But it’s just a tad — albeit unintentionally — condescending: ‘Go play there, listeners, but we won’t let you in to affect the real show.’

I’m not blaming OtM’s crew. They’re operating under habit, the way it has been done forever, the only way it could be done, before the internet. But if any show should shake things up and change the way a show is made, shouldn’t it be this one?

Brian Lehrer’s public-radio show is mobilizing its audience to report. I’d like to see show’s enable their audiences to create.

Beatblogging

For reasons below and with apologies, I’m late linking to Jay Rosen’s next project, BeatBlogging.

As Jay said, this may not look new because reporters have always been surrounded by networks of experts, people who — pace Dan Gillmor — know more than they do.

But those experts have not been linked and their expertise has not been open. The reporter was a gatekeeper before — only the expertise he chose would make it to the public in print. But now the role of the reporter can and should be different: as a moderator, vetter, enabler, encourager.

So I like to think of this as turning reporting inside-out: Before, the reporter put himself at the center, because it was through him that reporting flowed to the press and public. Now there can be a network of people who report and advise and the reporter should be asking himself what he can do to help them do that better; the reporter stands not at the center but at the edge, which reporters must learn is where the action really is.

So what should that entail? A reporter should make connections: Well, expert A, you say this but expert B says that, why don’t you read each others’ blog posts and push your ideas toward consensus or clear disagreement? Or expert B needs a fact that expert A might have and the reporter makes that connection. And if expert A doesn’t have it, she can extend the network to someone new who does: expert C joins the growing network. And if they’re in a network, experts A, B, and C don’t need the reporter to accomplish this; they can ask and assign each other. Or the reporter gets his network to come together to collaborate not just on a news story but on resources: a wiki history or how-to. The experts certainly should no longer wait until they are asked to be heard; they can and should be publishing and sharing all the time and the reporter can act as an editor, curating that which will be of interest to his public. That public should, in turn, assign the network work: Our public wants to know this, will you guys go find out for us? In a newsroom as classroom, I also imagine that these networks are educational: the experts share knowledge with each other and with the reporter and with the public; the journalists share the tricks of their trade with the network to help them gather and share news and information.

At the end of the day, the definition of the role of the journalist shifts and we can’t be sure where it will end up. That’s why beatblogging is a valuable learning experience.

Last spring, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, sat down and drew one of his famous charts for me: a funnel through which news flowed. The journalist stood at the narrow bottom, the sphincter (my word) controlling the flow. But Alan envisioned moving the journalist up to the wider top where the job changed, encouraging more information — and the right information — to flow into the funnel and to loop around and gather more information in turn (additions, corrections, etc.) in a continuous cycle. That’s what beatblogging is about: figuring out where the reporter stands and what he does.

But here’s the dangerous question: What if the reporter does such a good job organizing such a good network that it runs on its own, gathering and sharing news and information and answering questions that need to be answered, so that the reporter isn’t needed anymore? Could happen, no? But I don’t think it will — if reporters learn to redefine themselves. Indeed, I think that reporters can make themselves even more valuable to wider publics and networks. The key verb in this paragraph is “organize.” In the old definition, at the bottom of that funnel, the verb was “control:” the reporter controlled access to the public and to news judgment and to news events and to the experts. But the internet removes those choke points. And though there are self-organizing systems on the internet, most of them are less self-organized than they look; that was one of Jay’s first lessons when he researched Assignment Zero: open-source projects have wranglers, organizers. The network may not find each other without the organizer; it may not identify the people who really know what they’re talking about; it may not make connections between questions and answers; it may not have someone devoted and paid to getting access and finding facts as a reporter should. The more independently these networks can operate, though, the more efficiently they can run, and the more of them we can have gathering more news and information. But they need organizers. And that means the key skill of the journalist shifts to organization.

I return to the wisdom of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg when he advised media moguls at Davos not to think that they could create communities but to instead realize that these communities already exist and so they should be asking what they can contribute to help them do what they already do better. Mark’s prescription: give them elegant organization. When you think about it, that has always been the mission of journalism: organizing information so communities can organize their activities. Now we have new and better means to do that. So I think beatblogging can get journalism back to its essential mission, discarding the distractions brought on by the means of production and distribution to which the journalists once had exclusive access. The role of the journalist becomes clearer, even purer: They organize information for communities and communities of information.

And that is an active verb. Curating is part of the role and that’s almost passive: finding and gathering and presenting the best of what people are already doing. That’s what Glam and ScienceBlogs do. But in the beatblogging sense, organizing also means mobilizing; it’s more active: Hey, network, let’s come together and go out and gather the information to answer this question together. That’s the next step in a network. So take Glam or ScienceBlogs or the law network in the post immediately below or any beatblogging network and imagine that the reporter-as-organizer can dispatch experts to advance a story. That’s powerful. That’s networked journalism.

: I’m proud that Jay put together part of his network of networks at the Networked Journalism Conference.

Glam: The success of the network

I have been arguing for as long as anyone would listen that the future of media is less about products and more about networks. It’s so nice to be proven right.

Recently, Samir Arora, CEO of Glam, visited to talk about his success story as a network and a platform. As he flipped through a PowerPoint spiel, he said excitedly that I’d really like this slide. I did. I dined out on it in London all last week.

glamchart2.jpg

The chart requires some explanation. Bear with me; it’s worth it.

The yellow circle on the right represents iVillage, which had been the largest women’s site in the U.S. After only a year and a half, Glam has overtaken it as the new No. 1 with 23 million uniques (vs 18m for iVillage) and 600 million monthly pageviews.

iVillage was our deadly competitor when I worked at CondeNet and we often sniped that much of its traffic was junk. This illustrates that: The largest circle inside iVillage is astrology traffic and the dark circle in that represents people who come to iVillage for horoscopes and nothing else. That may bulk up your traffic numbers, but it’s not saleable to advertisers. iVillage is built in the Yahoo model of sites it owns or controls; it tries to lure people in and then bombards them with ads.

Glam, represented by the larger circle on the left, is a network. You’ll see clusters made up of smaller circles, representing their content areas: fashion, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, celebrity, teen. Inside each of those clusters, if you squint, you’ll see a small yellow circle. Those are Glam’s O&O (owned and operated) sites. All the many purple circles around those in each cluster represent outside, independent blogs and sites in Glam’s network. That is the secret to Glam’s quick growth without the cost and risk of doing everything itself.

Glam finds the good blogs and creates a relationship. It features good content from them on Glam and also sells ads on the blogs, sharing revenue with and supporting those bloggers. It now has about 400 publishers creating about 600 sites and Arora said that some make multiple six figures a year. They’ve fired only one.

Glam exploded by being a network. It asked the question, WWGD? What would Google do? Google, by the way, earns about 30 percent of its revenue through its O&O properties, Arora said. [LATER: See Capn Ken in the comments for more complete figures.] Glam earns 20-25 percent through its O&Os. Arora claims an advertising CPM of $15-35 for the O&Os and $8-15 for the network ($50-120 for the dreaded advertorial). Arora brags that they are “100 percent transparent” in their ad network, unlike someone else we know.

So Glam is a content network. But they don’t create all the content. They curate it. So we should curate more as we create less. That’s another way to say what I’ve said other ways: Do what we do best and link to the rest. Also: We need to gather more and produce less, so we also need to encourage others to produce more so we can gather it. That’s a festival of PowerPoint lines there.

Glam is also and advertising network that supports the creation of content. That’s how you encourage others to produce more.

So in the end, Glam is really a platform. That’s the key.

Glam is a rare example of that and I say other media companies would be wise to follow suit. A few days after meeting Arora, I also met Adam Bly of Seed magazine and ScienceBlogs. It’s a bit different, in that they curate the best science bloggers but then put them wholly on the ScienceBlogs platform. They sell ads and some of the science bloggers can make good money (not as good as those Glam figures but still good for a science academic; high fashion pays better than high science). And this allows Bly to build more around that (more on that later).

So in addition to asking what would Google do, I say that media companies should be asking what Glam would do. WWGD, the sequel.

: LATER: A platform, indeed.

I’d been sitting on this post, not quite done with it, and it so happens I published it coincidentally with previously embargoed news that Glam is starting a network for Lifetime. From the press release:

The new Lifetime Glam network will expand upon each company’s position as #1 for women — in TV and online, respectively. Today’s announcement is part of Lifetime’s broader expansion of its digital business including the relaunch of its website as www.myLifetime.com. As part of the agreement, both companies will also syndicate content – including a Glam-powered Beauty & Style channel on Lifetime’s website and Lifetime’s broadband video, games and other original content on Glam.com. . . .

The Lifetime Glam distributed media network will be built on the new Glam Managed Vertical Network platform -designed to manage display advertising and content distribution for media companies. Glam’s new platform offering enables large media companies like Lifetime to rapidly create their own vertical distributed media networks in collaboration with Glam.

That’s thinking like a network. That’s smart for both.

: LATER: Michael Arrington argues with my argument. More on that above.

: UPDATE: Glam just sent me better figures on them v. Google: “30-40% of Glam’s revenue is O&O, and 20-30% of Glam’s impressions are O&O . . . . 30-35% of Google’s Impressions are on Google.com, 60-50% of Revenue is Google.com vs its network.”

Web Zwei

The much-anticipated launch of Der Westen, the new web 2.0 local service from the WAZ regional newspaper group in Germany, comes tonight. Martin Stabe has links and background. Here was my blog post with Katarina Borchert, the most impressive blogger-turned-internet-newspaper exec who has led the development. Here‘s Thomas Knüwer’s interview with her. And here‘s a Spiegel feature about it all. (Those last two links in German.) I’ll be in the air when it goes up but will return with reaction (auf Englisch) soon.