The Weekly Illumination — Issue 20

Welcome to 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 visit SXSW, look at how entrepreneurial journalists are running their own businesses and share the best tips for journalists posted online this week.

The Illuminations Blog looks at Climate Desk

JTM alum Jacob Caggiano takes a look at the collaborative project Climate Desk, which brought eight distinct media organizations together to provide in-depth coverage to a topic that’s often addressed in a superficial level. This is the first freelance piece we’ve published on the Illuminations Blog and we look forward to publishing more pieces from Caggiano and other writers.

Tips and tricks

Dispatches from SXSW

This year’s Austin conference included talks from Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. Of course, none of them were actually in attendance due to each man’s respective relationship with the U.S. government.

But many of the speakers actually were in attendance, including Upworthy Co-founder Eli Pariser who was asked during a panel about the company’s careful approach to crafting viral headlines. In another panel, Poynter’s Kelly McBride, a JTM Alum, joined a discussion about how the algorothims that increasingly rule the Web and decide what we see on Facebook will impact our perceptions of the world. On the other side of the feedback loop, ONA presented five challenges it has identified in using social media for news gathering.

After attending SXSW, Angela Washeck concludes on PBS MediaShift that journalism’s future will be tied to social, mobile, and data. A future that The Atlantic’s Scott Haven’s said is still ripe for great business opportunities.

And outside of the sessions, the Harvard Graduate School of design set up a pop-up library known as the LABRARY to show off experimental library technologies.

Odds & ends and odd ends

Going Solo

At one point in time it looked like every town with a Post Office would one day have a Patch, but today both Patch sites and Post Offices are endangered species. But for the hundreds Patch editors who have suddenly found themselves without work, the company’s downfall may spell opportunity for them to strike on their own, as both Caroline O’Donovan and Kaylin Bugos reported this week in separate stories.

While the Internet creates new opportunities for journalists to launch their own publications, like I.F. Stone before him, John Maginnis has been making a living off his own publication since 1972. Maginnis started his newsletter about Louisana politics as a weekly subscription that he delivered over fax; today most people get it on the Web. While Chumel Torres wasn’t even born when Maginnis launched his site, he too has built a sustainable business providing political coverage. The satirical Mexican video blogger has attracted 483,000 subscribers to his program El Pulso de la Republica.

As Vanity Fair pointed out this week, it’s important for journalists to develop their own brand, and in order to build that brand it’s probably a good idea to define your news philosophy as well.

Jobs of the week

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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