Dr. Michael Maier, founder of Netzeitung, the 7-year-old online-only newspaper serving Germany, is leaving to come over here for a Shorenstein fellowship at Harvard, I’m glad to report (for our sake). On the way out, Maier is buying the networked journalism project he started there, Readers-Edition.de, as a platform for German-language citizen journalism (BÃ¼rgerjournalismus) and the flagship for a new venture, Blogform Publishing, bringing Web 2.0 to journalism. Maier is a accomplished journalist — former editor of the Berliner Zeitung, Stern, and Vienna’s Presse — and an experienced entrepreneur, so I look forward to seeing what evolves. (Here‘s my Guardian column about Maier, Netzeitung, and Readers-Edition.) He sent an email to Readers-Edition writers (if I get the translation right) saying: “I believe that Readers Edition has great potential. . . . This changes the journalism fundamentally and it changes the society fundamentally.” Interesting that in the comments on the announcement at Readers-Edition, there was much discussion of payments. Which leads me to this. . . .
I found this checking out links at Medienlese, where I also saw a link to Thomas KnÃ¼wer, Handelsblatt journalist and blogger, talking about VCs supporting new journalism ventures (auf Deutsch). Which leads me to this. . . .
I wonder whether we will, indeed, start seeing more venture investment in not just media but specifically in journalistic projects. Some have said that the moguls thinking of spending billions to buy hunks of Tribune Company or the New York Times Company would be better off just starting new ventures that are not dragged down by the tremendous costs of old media’s infrastructure. There is money to be made in news and I do think it will be made a lot faster creating new ventures rather than trying to reform old ones.
The BBC starts an experiment in networked journalism using students equipped with Nokia phones (aka news gathering devices) hooked up with GPS to get location (aka hyperlocal) information. Sounds a bit like the Farcast project described here. I do like the idea of a new device that can record and send along and publish geographically tagged photos, video, text, and audio. The phones we have — like my beloved Treo — are almost there, but they need to enable easier text input and easy editing of multimedia without any publishing hassles on the other end.
Just catching up with a report, via Editors Weblog, on a meeting of Dutch and Flemish media execs sharing projects on innovation in news. The reports themselves are mostly in Dutch but the summary reveals some interesting work, including:
* An experiment called Farcast using dolled-up mobile phones for reporting, grabbing audio, photos, and text with GPS attached, working through a dedicated server to publish the news. The meetingn presentation says tThe Dutch news agency dispatched 15 units for four months with 25 users who ended up sending in 500 posts. It was up to four hours faster than traditional channels. Obviously, this doesn’t replace those channels — that is, the typed report. But to be able to get instant multimedia reports up without hassle could be very powerful.
* Another hardware experiment with a dolled-up laptop for news-gathering.
* A local networked journalism product called Hasseltlokaal using what they called many-to-many publishing. Has 20 local reporters between 17 and 70 filing 4-5 articles a day. Sounds like a local Netzeitung Readers-Edition.
* Another model of connecting the people formerly known as readers to ask and answer each others’ questions.
* A free youth paper/site called SP!TS. The kids like the name.
* An e-paper gadget.
Not all of it will work. But this is the sort of innovation we need in news.