Journalism News, JTM News, Member News, Seattle

Seattle: A New Media Case Study

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism recently released its “State of the News Media 2011” report. It includes “Seattle: A New Media Case Study,” an essay Pew asked me to write about Seattle’s changing news landscape.

I was reluctant to take on the task because anything short of an extensive study would be inherently flawed. But I decided to do the report to stimulate conversation in the “Seattle Journalism Commons,” soon to be launched by Journalism That Matters Pacific Northwest.

More about the Commons another day, but for now this blog will launch the conversation.

Here are the opening paragraphs of my essay for Pew:

Seattle, perhaps more than any other American city, epitomizes the promise and challenges of American journalism at the local level.

In the last few years, it has experienced both a sharp loss of traditional news resources and an exciting rise in new journalistic enterprises and inventive collaborations between traditional and emerging media. A New America Foundation case study of Seattle’s news ecosystem describes it as ‘a digital community still in transition.’ A new, vibrant media scene is emerging. But it also may not take hold.

I listed several factors that have created positive energy in Seattle’s media landscape. They include lots of experimentation and collaboration, an abundance of hyper-local news sites, and public acceptance of and engagement with emerging media.

I also listed what I regard as unmet or under-met news and information needs. They include voids created by the erosion of traditional media that are not yet being filled by emerging media. Among these are state capital coverage, arts and culture coverage, and public insight or networked journalism. In terms of needs, I also mentioned foundation support, mapping and metrics for assessing information opportunities, and challenges in finding sustainable business models for emerging media.

The report included an annotated list of “noteworthy outlets that illustrate what is happening in digital journalism in Seattle.” It began with a caveat that any such list would be incomplete and immediately out of date.

Boy, was I right. Between the time I sent the final version of the list to my editors at Pew and the time it was posted, John Cook and Todd Bishop left TechFlash and launched Geek Wire.

My hope is that people will build on my list with their own links and observations. You can post them here, and we’ll build a longer list as we go.

Initial reaction to my Pew piece is encouraging, which is to say it is getting some praise and healthy push back from various corners.

A specific criticism that surprised me is that arts coverage is more robust than my assessment. I would love to hear more views on that. In the meantime, the first addition to my annotated list of noteworthy websites needs to be Encore Media Group’s and City Arts Blog.

Also on the list of concerns is that my perspective is an old media view of new media. I plead guilty. This blog is open for other perspectives from the people who are shaping the regional news and information ecosystem.

Please read my Pew essay and offer your thoughts. Here are some specific questions to kick around:

  • What’s the current state of Seattle’s regional news and information ecosystem?
  • What trends are you noticing?  What’s working?
  • What does a healthy regional news and information ecosystem look like?
  • How can we stimulate more dialogue and idea sharing about news and information innovation?
  • How can we create more public engagement with journalism?
  • How can we increase the diversity of voices participating in conversations about journalism?
Home Page, Journalism News, JTM News, Seattle

WNC gridiron dinner a big success

The Washington News Council’s 12th (!) annual Gridiron West Dinner, (video here, pics here) held on Friday, Nov. 12 at The Conference Center at Convention Place in Seattle brought 350 people together to “toast/roast” five former Mayors of Seattle: Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norm Rice, Paul Schell and Greg Nickels. Current Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was there to introduce his predecessors, and won some points for his good-natured remarks. To no one’s surprise, McGinn was the target of a few pointed shots himself.

It was a raucous, irreverent, edgy evening of songs, comedy, videos, slideshows and often caustic comments by “toasters/roasters” — with sharp retorts by the Mayors who were targets of the barbs. Emcee Mike Egan (who actually has a day job at Microsoft), ran the show with his usual zany aplomb, appearing in costume first as a Munchkin and later as Dorothy, as the evening’s theme was “Wizard of Oz.”  A radiant backdrop of “The Emerald City” hung behind the stage, where the five Mayors sat in soft armchairs while they took their hard medicine from various friends, colleagues, and journalists. There was even a video appearance of Mayor Gordon Clinton, who reigned during the Seattle World’s Fair (watch below).

Four extremely talented singers, dressed in spot-on costumes as Dorothy, The Tin Man, The Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion, kicked off the program with a hilarious sketch about politically correct Seattle, written by Jim Anderson of Cabaret Productions. Anderson also wrote many of the lyrics (aided by former KING5-TV President Eric Bremner and WNC President John Hamer) and choreographed the show, as well as running the technical side including lighting, video, audio, costumes and props.

WNC Chair Suzie Burke and Hamer welcomed the crowd and gratefully thanked all the table sponsors (including Boeing, Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Simonyi Fund & Susan Hutchison, Premera, Space Needle Corporation, Chihuly Studio, PEMCO Insurance, Puget Sound Energy, and a dozen others). Carly Hunt Koczarski sang “America the Beautiful” beautifully. Our new promotional video, by WNC Communications Strategist Jacob Caggiano, was shown while dinner was being served, giving the audience a look at how the WNC has “reinvented” itself in the past few months with a redesigned website, a blog page, an online community, a TAO of Journalism site, and other innovative programs. After dinner, the musical tribute began with songs such as “Follow the Politics Road” and ”We’re Here to Toast the Mayors, These Wonderful Mayors of Ours,” with the audience joining in while lyrics were shown on the big screens.

A video called “The Mayors,” (above) done by Ken Jones of KJ Video Productions (and a longtime KING5-TV videographer) brought down the house with its animated Jib-Jab scenes including the Mayors as Chippendale Dancers. Only Paul Schell was unable to attend in person, though he was “toasted” anyway as his cardboard cutout sat on stage and an “Anarchist from Eugene” ran out shouting pro-Schell slogans for the hospitality shown to radical demonstrators during the WTO convention. A mini-auction, raffle and “raise the paddle” segment led by Auctioneer Fred Granados featured several terrific items and fiercely competitive bidding. The evening concluded with a wry rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” followed by a Champagne & Chocolate After Party with Domaine Ste Michelle Brut (thanks to Carol Munro) and Theo’s Chocolates (thanks to Chuck Horne).

Special thanks to all those who sponsored tables or purchased tickets, for making this evening possible. Your generous (and tax-deductible) donations make the News Council’s important work possible. In addition, every dollar we receive this year will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, thanks to a special “challenge grant” arranged by Bill Gates Sr. We can’t thank Bill Sr. and the Foundation enough for their generous support of the WNC since our founding in 1998.

Our annual Gridiron West Dinners, almost always held in the aftermath of the November elections, always attract a thoroughly bipartisan crowd. The event provides a welcome opportunity for Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, Green Partiers and Tea Partiers, to come together for an evening of fun and frolic despite deep political and ideological differences. It is our hope that by enjoying a nice dinner, pouring a bottle (or two) of wine, and sharing a few laughs, people who may be deeply at odds on issues and policy will find some common ground and maybe find ways to work together better. Hey, that’s what everyone says they want these days, isn’t it?

[Also have a look at coverage of the event from Seattle Metropolitan]

JTM News, Projects, Seattle

JTM Pacific Northwest Latest Initiative Updates

Since their initial conference in New York City in October 2001, JTM has been bringing together journalists and increasingly, others interested in the growing and changing public information ecosphere. The aim has been to puzzle through epic changes in the news and information landscape and creatively develop new approaches, alliances and projects that strengthen bonds of community and democracy through constructive engagement. The JTM Pacific Northwest (JTM-PNW) conference at the University of Washington in Seattle drew a diverse group of current and former legacy media journalists, specialty media, new media and social media practitioners, representatives of non-profits including civic and advocacy groups, some very talented and capable students, and others. Ten initiatives have come forward as a direct result of the conference. They are at varying stages.

Two provide detailed recent reports and plans at JTM-PNW’s site. One is the Seattle Digital Literacy Initiative. More here from the UW School of Communications, which is providing funding and a home for the project for two years. This is an impressive development which reflects the valuable role JTM-PNW plays as an instigator and enabler for innovation. Another recent update is from JTM-PNW’s Building On Transparency effort, which I am helping to advance as part of my work for Countywide Community Forums (CCF), a public engagement program in King County which is underwritten by private donors, most notably the Spady family of Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants in Seattle.


Another of the 10 JTM-PNW initiatives is the News Collaboratory, which meets monthly. It helps chart JTM-PNW’s overall direction, serves as a resource and connector for the initiatives. Monday July 26, the JTM-PNW News Collaboratory organized a potluck gathering at the Filipino Community Center in Southeast Seattle so a broader group of initiative leaders and interested others could connect, share news and lay plans for future face-to-face gatherings and further development of the initiatives. We were pleased to be joined by several distinguished guests who came to listen. They were Rita Brogan, CEO of PRR Inc., a public affairs and community engagement firm based in Seattle; new media maven Monica Guzman, now of Intersect; online guru Jason Preston of Parnassus Group and Eat Sleep Publish; and communicator Carrie Shaw, also a CCF colleague of mine.Unknown Object


Opening the reporting session, ex-Seattle Times Executive Editor Michael Fancher emphasized his Abundant Journalism initiative is envisioned as an information clearinghouse that would grow into a role of finding funding to help start-up enterprises in the news and public information space. He is looking to get a few more core members to help him guide the initiative. Most of Fancher’s time has been focused on nationally-recognized research and report-writing work for the Knight Foundation and Aspen Institute on the future of journalism and news information. He has also maintained and updated JTM-PNW’s web site, and served as a member of JTM-PNW’s News Collaboratory.


Michael Bradbury of RealScience, Inc. reported on a new JTM-PNW initiative that he said could fold nicely into Abundant Journalism: business training and micro-finance for aspiring journalism entrepreneurs. As a 501c3, JTM-PNW could become a micro-lending program, especially if paired with business skills development for emerging small business enterprises in the regional news ecosphere, Bradbury told the group. This possibility arose after Bradbury reached out to the Washington Community Alliance For Self-Help (CASH), which provides business training for immigrant populations and individuals subsisting at up to 200 percent of the poverty level, who are seeking to establish small retail businesses. Washington CASH wants to expand to include other business sectors that have been affected by economic changes, specifically including journalism, Bradbury learned. Washington CASH has offered one free training slot to an applicant recommended by JTM-PNW, and we are exploring whether that number might be able to be increased. Several applicants have already expressed interest. Additionally, JTM-PNW is discussing how it would work with journalists who complete Washington CASH training to share lessons learned and help begin raising money for micro-lending to qualified news and information business endeavors.


Daniel Hannah, and later Jonathan Lawson of Reclaim The Media reported on the considerable success of the Seattle Digital Literacy Initiative, which was born at and after the January JTM-PNW conference. SDLI has secured two years of funding through the University of Washington Department of Communications to work with youth in community settings to help develop their critical media analysis and consumer skills as well as their media production capabilities. Project leader Sarah Stuteville, of The Common Language Project, was Back East attending a conference.


Jacob Caggiano reported that the mapping initiative funded by the Washington News Council and its Executive Director John Hamer is shaping up. This alliance also developed as a direct result of the January conference. The Google Map-based project is part of WNC’s Washington News Lab and Directory and now includes contact and Web information on 451 different entities from among legacy media, the blogosphere, and civic groups. The News Council has invested considerable capital in developing the project and so for now, will be making it available only to dues-paying members. JTM-PNW Collaboratory leaders later expressed their support for the project but also indicated they may explore facilitating the development of a similar tool that is free and open.


Hamer reported on the News Council’s ongoing T.A.O. of Journalism initiative to encourage practitioners to sign a pledge and post a badge of compliance on their sites to the principles of transparency, openness and accountability. The council – which focuses on journalistic best practices and ethics – has also unveiled a new Web site developed by Brian Glanz and Charlie Hamilton, and continues its own blogging initiative, assisted by writer Heidi Dietrich.


Charlie Hamilton of the Technology Initiative reported the new JTM-PNW Web site is nearly ready. It is expected to go live in August. JTM-PNW has contracted with Cate Montana of The Global Intelligencer to curate material for the Web site and assist in informational outreach to initiative leaders and conference attendees. As the site develops, community features will be unveiled and promoted.


Peggy Holman, a JTM national co-founder and co-convenor of the January conference in Seattle reported on the Collaboratory initiative, which she leads. She said, “We’re supporting the pioneers who are shaping the news and information ecosystem, being eyes and ears, noticing what’s possible.” Holman’s new book, “Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity” is due out soon.


Sanjay Bhatt, a reporter at the Seattle Times, and Pamela Kilborn-Miller of the Dalai Lama Center spoke about the Global Health Reporting Initiative which emerged out of the deep philanthropic support in the Seattle area for global health initiatives, and the presence of many talented health writers and reporters here. The initiative is doing a cross-sector stakeholder survey to help shape future efforts. Another initiative member present was Michael McCarthy, founder of Seattle/Local Health Guide, now a partner site with the Seattle Times. Bradbury also reported on the Seattle Happiness Index Initiative, which will seek to provide objective indices of community well-being. It isn’t really off the ground yet, he said, but will get there eventually.


I reported on Building On Transparency, which seeks to develop community capacity for using open government and especially online government data and documents to help improve quality of life, dialog and governance. A report and detailed plan is here. I also discussed a core project in the initiative, Public Data Ferret. It is a database of blogged synopses of important public documents and databases which might otherwise go overlooked. They are indexed and searchable by topic and jurisdiction at the Ferret Hub. There is also an archive of weekly Public Data Ferret radio segments on KOMO-AM 1000 in Seattle. I expressed appreciation to JTM-PNW Collaboratory member Andrew Hart for his work as Contributing Editor at Public Data Ferret, and other work on behalf of JTM-PNW. Hart, a recent grad of the UW Communications School, was a participant in the January conference.


The group then heard from Rita Hibbard, a former Seattle Post-Intelligencer editor who is now Executive Editor of Investigate West, an investigative reporting project that works in partnership with major media outlets. Investigate West is not a JTM-PNW initiative per se, but Hibbard was an active participant in the January conference, leading a vigorous discussion in the Open Space setting. The assembled group last week welcomed the chance to hear Hibbard report on IW’s impressive debut. Investigate West, Hibbard said, is doing original investigative reporting work, with articles running in major media such as MSNBC, the Seattle Times, Seattle and the Spokane Spokesman-Review. The project draws financial support from foundations, membership fees and payments from media partners for content. IW is interested in finding ways to work with news consumers, Hibbard added.


Rick Vanderknyff, Managing Editor of Microsoft Local, reported on the Civic Communications Commons Initiative, which has an active and broad steering committee – including Anne Stadler, a longtime dialog facilitator, Seattle media figure and community activist. Work to date includes a completed concept and planning document, regular planning meetings and extensive outreach to potential partners. CCC has 501c3 aims. Vanderknyff told the group that the initiative will include an online commons, a publicly-held place where people can meet; and in-person conversations around the county. The focus will be on dialog around important issues; and serving as a hub on news and information resources. A number of partnerships are expected to be explored with major players in the civic, corporate and communications sectors. Undecided yet are geographical scope (King County versus greater Puget Sound), and exactly what would be at the Web hub.


An open discussion by the initiative leaders of JTM-PNW followed. We agreed to meet quarterly in person, and to begin scheduling monthly events around each initiative. We also discussed different types of events we could hold to promote the initiatives. Sanjay Bhatt had an inspired suggestion for Flash Mobs around mobile food carts (“hook up in Ballard for burritos and talk on transparency.”) He also shared the model used at Asian-American Journalists Association “Innovation Salons”: 30-45 minutes of meet and greet, a 60-minute program, and 45 minutes more of socializing and directed networking. Other possibilities raised were mini-conferences of up to three hours, or convening a public conversation around a cross-cutting topic.

Additional suggestions to help the initiatives gain momentum included: provide “how-to” mini-seminars with initiative leaders (or others) sharing success stories; conduct concept-vetting sessions where one initiative is critiqued by other initiative leaders; share tools such as the survey approach being used by the Global Health Initiative; form a steering committee; reach out beyond the usual suspects: and give presentations to civic, professional and community groups.

Thanks everybody for a great, productive gathering!

Events, Home Page, JTM News, Projects, Seattle

Puget Sound Civic Communication Commons initiative OPEN DISCUSSION

Journalism That Matters is pleased to announce the Puget Sound Civic Communication Commons initiative is holding an open discussion for those interested in discovering how the commons will serve as an information hub and conversation place for news topics in the Puget Sound region. The discussion, which is part of a larger three-day initiative development meeting, is sponsored by “The Next Fifty and Seattle Center Foundation.”

The question the discussion will center around is: In what ways could an online civic commons contribute to the well-being of our communities?

This is the first monthly JTM initiative meeting in a series of public meetings scheduled through July 2011. For a complete listing of initiatives and an overview of each one please go to

Puget Sound Civic Communication Commons initiative discussion:

TIME: Friday, Sept. 24, 3 pm – 6 pm

WHERE: 3rd Floor Conference Rooms Seattle Center House (there will be signs directing to the exact room)

370 Thomas Street, Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 441-0423
PARKING: Parking lots are located  at 1st Ave N & Thomas Street or 5th Ave North and Harrison Street
RSVP: The room at the Seattle Center House holds only 50 people. Please RSVP by email to Cate Montana (see information below). For any questions about the initiative, please contact Rick VanderKnyff at
See you there!


Seattle Center House

370 Thomas Street

Seattle, WA 98109

See map: Google Maps

Audience (formerly), JTM News, Projects, Seattle

Civic Communications Commons

This group proposes the development of a Civic Communications Commons (CCC) in Seattle and King County as a common civic infrastructure that connects virtual and face-to-face civic, community, and neighborhood spaces.

It’s proposal says:

“The CCC would be a common civic space in Seattle, growing from the many existing resources in neighborhoods, communities, the non-profit sector, government, and business. The Seattle Commons will be built by many hands with widespread ownership and responsibility.

“By envisioning the CCC as a ‘common civic space’ we mean, quite literally, the space in which members of a community do their work as participants in the public life of that community. This work includes:

  • The many small, informal, but important networks of everyday civic life (helping neighbors, building and maintaining community gardens, etc.) ;
  • The building and maintaining of “third-places” both on- and offline, and weaving the two together;
  • The civic work of young people, gathering and posting neighborhood and community stories, and building the commons itself;
  • The collaborative work of media: city- and county-wide, mainstream, public, and alternative; neighborhood, and micro-local to present a broad picture of the community and gather and disseminate the information necessary for public work;
  • The vital work of libraries as conveners, connectors, and providers of information and civic space;
  • Supporting grassroots participation by engaging and assisting lively community and neighborhood news and information centers.
  • Organization for a broad range of projects in urban design, arts, and culture;
  • Community members addressing and petitioning, but also collaborating with, government Continue reading