A meeting on networked journalism

I am delighted to tell you that I’ve received a MacArthur Foundation grant at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism to start the News Innovation Project. Its first work will be to hold a meeting this fall to gather practitioners and best practices in networked journalism — cooperative, pro-am efforts to gather and share news.

So I would be grateful if you would leave comments here with examples of what you think is working in networked journalism: cooperative efforts by local newspapers and TV stations, new ventures that enable the community to gather news, people who do this well, and tools that are working. I’m working with David Cohn, who covered this topic in the blog at Jay Rosen’s NewAssignment.net. Thanks to him, we have a pretty good list of what’s happening. But, of course, there’s more going on than, we know, so please pass the word and clue us in.

When I first applied for this grant, my goal was to evangelize the idea of networked journalism (nee citizen journalism). But in the meantime, we’ve seen such a blossoming of these efforts that we now believe the best contribution we can make is to share and extend best practices.

Before everyone gets here for the meeting, David will have written up reports on what these practitioners have done. That, of course, will be on the web for all to read and add to. This way, we can dig right in during the meeting and quiz some of these practitioners — each representing different sorts of efforts — on what works and what doesn’t and what they need to do what they do better (including what others in the room can offer them). At the end of the day, I hope to lock folks in rooms — bloggers with newspaper people, newspaper people with new ventures — and not let them out without returning with new things to do together, ways to push toward new experiments. And then David will followup and report on those efforts after everyone leaves and gets to work.

The reason for all this is that I firmly believe that networked journalism is one — not the only but one — answer to the question of how journalism can be sustained even as the old business models of news and media shrink and shift. We also believe that technology and networking now allow us to join together as never before to gather more news, cover more parts of our communities, involve more people, even investigate investigate deeper. This isn’t about saving journalism. It’s about growing journalism.

The second effort of the News Innovation Project will be to hold another session on new business models for news. More on that later.

Unfortunately, our space — physical space — will be limited at the school. So I don’t think I’ll be able to open this to all comers. Of course, I wish we could. But we will do everything online: before, during, and after. And we’ll do everything we can to bring in everyone’s wisdom, experience, questions, and help wherever they are.

So please let me know who you think is doing great things in networked, cooperative, pro-am, innovative journalism.

I’ll send you to a web site as soon as we have more details. Thanks. (And thanks to John Bracken and MacArthur.)

  • Jeff, congratulations! Sounds like a fantastic opportunity to spread the good word and spur traditional media’s continued transformation.

    I’m working on a startup that’s tangentially connected to networked journalism – ‘networked punditry’ might be a more accurate description. Once we complete development and testing, however, I think our platform could be useful within the news arena.

    When covering topics where there is a high degree of interest from the public and a large number of potential contributors, and a high level of disagreement regarding the essential facts of the story and the best way to present them, there needs to be a way to aggregate the community’s opinions. That’s where we fit in. You can follow our progress on our blog at http://www.mixedink.com/blog.

    In the mean time, I look forward to hearing more about (and maybe even participating in) this exciting project.

  • Jeff,

    I think that an example of networked journalism that is showing promise is the Nuts & Bolts (http://marketplace.publicradio.org/features/nutsandbolts/) series about entrepreneurship on American Public Media’s Marketplace Morning Report. Through the hard work of Public Insight Analysts (http://americanpublicmedia.publicradio.org/publicinsightjournalism/) like Joellen Easton (http://marketplace.publicradio.org/about/cast_crew/easton.html), Marketplace has turned listeners into sources. So far, the series has featured some interesting stories about small business owning listeners who found themselves as bosses, failures, and those who are too successful to know what to do next. It is a series that is about, for, and — in a way — by the listeners.

  • Thanks. Keep em coming. I will look into everything!

  • Congratulations on the Grant, those applications are oh so fun…

    A tool we have been working with that is completely under the radar imo is Campsite from http://www.campware.org. It is an open source CMS that allows not only for distributed content but basically a complete architecture to setup a distributed authored news site. There are a whole bunch of features but imo when you get to have a conversation about the paradigm shift in journalism it is nice to give some examples of where the open source development community (in this case the international community) is helping with technology.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Hi,
    We’re doing work on Networked Journalism here at POLIS the journalism and society think-tank at the LSE – we even managed to raise the idea at the UN last month! We are planning a report on Networked Journalism for the autumn and would love to co-operate with you to give the view from the UK as well.

  • Hello and Congrats
    We’ve been publishing for over three years now at Spero News http://www.speroforum.com, and things are continually on the way up and folks share news and articles. The interesting thing has been watching what the readers defined as their interests and materials — and then reaction of other readers than confusing the site with MSM.

    Congrats again
    Robert Duncan

  • Rob

    Well Lileks, over at Buzz.mn, seems to be doing some interesting work. He’s getting lots of blog posts and coments from his local minions. Might be worth talking to him, at least.

  • Hey Jeff – many congrats, should be fascinating and yes I AM going to call – blame the wretched cabinet who have been in and out like the Italian …erm…government!

  • Congrats, Jeff. I agree that networked journalism is one possible business model. We have to explore just what the models will be. Interesting that you’re de-facto combining it with another possible model — foundation grant money (News 21 comes to mind).

  • We need a way to give authority to many people on very specific subjects rather the just creating A Listers who make noise about everything.

    I have a friend who is a Geologist and I keep telling him to start a blog, because the day we have an earthquake he should have authority over anyone who is just blogging – my heart goes out…..

  • I think John Cutter at the Orlando Sentinel is doing great work with integrating print, broadcast, and ‘blogger’ journalism.

  • Jeff, way to go on the grant. I think the media criticism and innovation that can take place in a lab setting like this can really help forge new ground.

    We in Fort Myers have had some big successes and thundering failures with networked journalism, and we’d like to both share and learn as a part of this group.

    We can talk about two major successes. First, we here locallyk had a $100 million-plus Halliburton contract for city services that was laced with corruption, graft and negligence. Through a bold use of crowdsourcing, major changes have been forced, officials have resigned and local homeowners have gotten thousands of dollars back in their pockets. Citizens truly drove the investigation and affected results. Second, we have Team Watchdog, our latest experiment in “semi-pro” journalsim that brings 20 retired experts (FBI agent, judge, CPA, engineer, DOD intelligence officer, etc.) into our reporting ranks to joing our “pro” staff in holding government accountable.

    In both of these cases, and in many others we have experimented with, we learned many lessons on what NOT to do, what doesn’t work, etc. We want to share those as well.

    Finally, I’d say that we ought to be at the table for one overriding reason: We have the latitude and fortitude to try stuff. Our publisher is behind all the networked journalism experimentation we can come up with. So if we have the chance to listen and learn to all the other smart people you’ll have there, we have the luxury of knowing we can execute any good idea we hear about pretty much on a dime. And we think putting any idea into the field for testint has enormous up-side.

    Anyway, please consider us. We’ll look forward to how you fill the group out.

    Mackenzie Warren
    Managing editor/Information distribution
    The News-Press | http://www.news-press.com
    Fort Myers, Fla.

  • The Vineyard Voice is an online issues and ideas magazine designed and developed with one question in mind: In what ways can we engage in meaningful conversations? On Martha’s Vineyard there is no real problem moving us “the last three feet to face to face conversation”. The challenge right now is extending and informing this conversation in times of tremendous change on this island.

    There has always been rich conversation on Martha’s Vineyard. Town meetings, community television, two weekly papers and a regional planning commission keep Vineyarders actively in touch with the many factors effecting the quality of life here. For the 18,000 or so year-rounders there is a continuous and often visceral examination of what it means to live in a place where so many others want to be. The influx of people intensifies the conversation, creates focus. It drives land and housing prices up. It has a direct impact on market basket prices. But the conversation is not just about the cost of living. As in other communities it centers on the quality of healthcare, on local food production, energy, waste and recycling, among other things. Yes, life is good here in this informed community, but it is also threatened.

    The Vineyard Voice will launch on September 1st as a “monthly”. The first “issue” is on affordable housing, so we will be landing directly into the middle of a real pain point for islanders. The issue will publish work from local videographers, audio interviews, key documents outlining the forces and factors shaping housing on the island and reflections from islanders in blogs and images. All of the published material can be commented on, interacted with and will be the catalyst for deeper ongoing conversation. As the conversation deepens, community member insights will be selected by the editorial staff and by community editors as lead stories themselves. Our strategy is to focus the conversation, then draw from the community. Through it we will have a fresh, monthly issue to shape the discussion and continuous community involvement to draw on for live, meaningful content.

    There’s so much more to the way The Vineyard Voice works to pull content together and present it in a clear and well designed format. We’ll also help people market their things and services and build organic groups. It all is very exciting.

    The Vineyard Voice hopes to help islanders take a step toward true people-created insight by lowering the threshold of participation, so that each of us can more easily engage in to a rich exchange of issues and ideas — a rich, meaningful conversation.

  • Hi – congratulations on the MacArthur grant.

    At openDemocracy.net , we’ve been in the role of “primary producer” of high quality international news analysis and commentary ,always looking for the perspective of the critical insider to any issue. We want to find the way to sustainably produce high-end analysis in the networked journalism world.

    we run a mixed amateur/pro model, with a professional editorial staff and contributors who are academics or activists.

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