The Weekly Illumination — Issue 8

Welcome to the the Weekly Illumination, a JTM newsletter offering a quick look at the week in journalism with a focus on what’s working in today’s news ecology. In this week’s Illumination we’ll examine the just-announced media organization from Pierre Omidyar, the founder of E-bay. We’ll also take a look at the challenges facing news startups, and how journalism intersects with Twitter.

X marks the spot

Maps have proven useful for getting around unfamiliar cities — even finding hidden treasure — but we can also learn about complex systems by mapping how the parts fit together. In the final piece of her series on the emerging news and information ecosystem, Board member Peggy Holman looks at how mapping the news and information ecosystem can reveal new opportunities.

New news project from tech titan

In what is hopefully becoming a trend, E-bay’s billionaire founder announced this week that he’s teamed up with Glen Greenwald to launch a news Web site with offices in New York, Washington DC and San Francisco. Pierre Omidyar already owns the Honolulu Civil Beat, which he launched in 2010, so the move isn’t entirely uncharted territory.

Adrienne LaFrance worked for the Civil Beat before joining the Nieman Lab where she shared her insights from the experience.

Last month The Illuminations blog wrote about how Jeff Bezos will bring with him a culture of experimentation with him to the Washington Post. And this week Jack Shafer at Reuters explored why billionaires are once-again drawn toward owning their own publications; USA Today’s Rem Rieder remains skeptical but hopeful.

Atwitter for Twitter

It seems like just about everyone uses Twitter these days, but if the company is going to prove profitable, just about everyone will need to include more than the 200 million people around the world using it today. As part of this process, the company is investing deeper in news and is poised to hire Vivian Schiller, who previously ran NPR, to head up the department.

Scores of journalists are already Tweeting of course, but for those just getting into the platform Twitter’s Erica Anderson shared five helpful tips for reporters at Mediashift.

Nate Silver and Ariana Huffington say no to paywalls

There’s been an influx of permeable paywalls following the model set by the New York Times, but this week Nate Silver of the ESPN-owned property said that the new site will be free. In an unrelated interview Ariana Huffington told that The Huffington Post has no plans to adopt a paywall and that doing so would dramatically eat into the company’s advertising revenues.

Got advertising?

Advertising dollars spent on journalism have been drying out for more than a decade, but companies like Google Facebook and Twitter are flush with advertising revenue. In this week’s Illumination, I look at how news organizations can reclaim some of this lost fortune.

Keeping your startup from shutting down

Media incubator Matter, which we wrote about previously, announced their new class of startups. Matter will invest $50,000 and three months of guidance to help these fledgling companies succeed, but as Poynter’s Sandra Oshiro points out 90% of startups will fail. Oshiro has prepared a list of five myths that can stop startups that may at first seem a bit discouraging but are important for any entrepreneur to keep in mind. Kelsey Mallahan at Mediashift has prepared her own version of a crash-guide for new startups, which urges new businesses to begin by identifying their goals, their audience and where they will generate revenue.

Odds & Ends and Odd Ends

Job(s) of the week

Work from home or the organizations midtown Manhattan office, Remapping Debate is now hiring a Creative Journalism Fellow. The position pays between $40 and $60k, depending on experience and includes paid vacation and health insurance.

JTM is looking for freelancers to write about successful journalism initiatives and is paying up to $250 per story.

For the past 75 years, the Nieman Foundation has offered one-year fellowships. Applications are still available.


The Illumination is a curated collection of stories about journalism innovation, notable job opportunities, grants and updates about Journalism that Matters. It is distributed to e-mail subscribers, through the JTM Google Group, and posted to the Illuminations blog.