Can we view the current upheaval in American journalism within frameworks of larger shifts (e.g. in human values or institutions)?

Submitted by ruthseymour on Tue, 06/08/2010 – 5:56pm

Session Convenor:

Ruth Seymour, Assistant Professor

of Journalism, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

Session Reporter:

Ruth Seymour and Davar Ardalan

Discussion Participants:
Kat Aaron, Davar Iran Ardalan, Sonya Bernard-Hollins, Sue Ellen Christian,
Ryan O’Toole, Matthew Renner, Joe Grimm, Peggy Holman, Melissa Cornick, Linda Jue, Beth Mastin, Marin Heinritz, Keith Woods

This summary is a compilation of participant comments on seven themes that emerged during our time together. All comments (with direct quotes in italics) are attributed.

Great morsels for writing, thinking or renewing.

Fair warning: Topic #1,  “The Gifting Economy,” is as long as the next six topics, combined.


  1. The “Gifting Economy”
  2. Evolution of the Web: Individual Freedom of Expression or Rampant Egocentrism?
  3. Our Choice, to See “Scarcity” or “Abundance”
  4. News as Social Capital
  5. Survival of Democracy
  6. Community Feedback Joins the News Cycle
  7. “Transparency” vs. “Neutrality/Objectivity”

Topic 1. “The Gifting Economy”

How would a “Gifting Economy” look in practice?

*Contrast with “old system”

The “traditional mode” of newsgathering is to extract information of value from the community and sell it.

“When, around them, everything is collapsing — it may not be new that people are giving…“

Keith Woods, Vice President for Diversity in News and Operations, National Public Radio

*Reporting Practices

While reporting a piece on the rape of a cheerleader, Melissa created times in the process to help sources heal and survive. Example: Staying late at work to call and create private time with the convicted student’s family. Working with prison to have him removed from the general population, for his own safety, when the story was to air.

“(It is about) making what we do, a gift. Seeing it as a gift…  Intentionally moving out of reporter’s role as someone objective/removed from the story.”

Melissa Cornick, Executive Director, OneifByLand Productions, Bucks County, Penn.

*Organizational Structures (Newsroom/News Sites) in a Gifting Economy

“Click” to Donate. Question the idea that money made is only for the journalists and techies. The organization can make a direct payoff to the community in return for information given– something more tangible than just “objective coverage.”  And it doesn’t have to be out-of-pocket. Example: On a news site, when covering an issue (especially in underserved communities) create a path for reader $$ donations.  Like a “Click to Donate” button for community libraries or schools.  Websites already link readers (as potential consumers) to sites that sell items described in news coverage (e.g. to an Amazon page, as part of a published book review).

“Why not display widgets to support organizations that help?”

Davar Iran Ardalan, Independent journalist, Severna Park, Maryland

Foundation Support. Money from foundations can be channeled to help communities start their own storytelling (define it, tell it, use content).  The journalist-facilitator, ultimately, can learn to channel the funds to a group and then just step back.  Example: In Chicago, three Latino groups produced radio content (radioarte); a network (Latinos progresando); a Mexican Museum of Fine Arts; and an opportunity for Latino kids to produce telenovelas in Spanish, English and Spanglish.  Interesting cross-access evolved since many people who spoke either English or Spanish found they could understand the Spanglish versions.

Beth Mastin, New Routes to Community Health, Madison, Wisconsin

Hot Mash and Splash Pages exist explicitly to openly share software with other people. “Between “open software” and (private) software development, guess which is doing better?” (Open.)

Ryan O’Toole, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Crowd Sourcing/Funding. Community identifies and helps to investigate problem (e.g. a contaminated well).

Davar Iran Ardalan, Independent journalist, Severna Park, Maryland

Potential challenge: What if the community ultimately doesn’t like the information/report produced?

Sue Ellen Christian, Associate Professor of Journalism, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan

*Societal Changes (in a Gifting Economy)

Public Wireless. Why should every resident of an apartment building be forced to pay $60/month for wireless access once one resident owns a router? Ryan opens his wireless access for public use.

Ryan O’Toole, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Wikipedia (!)

Ryan O’Toole, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts

A government role? There is such push against “taxes” in American politics, but some funding would make “public internet” possible.

Sue Ellen Christian, Associate Professor of Journalism, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Native American models.  If there is a shortage of kerosene, and someone gets hold of a gallon, everyone shares it. It is expected.

Melissa Cornick, Executive Director, OneifByLand Productions, Bucks County, Penn.

Topic 2.  Evolution of the Web: Individual Freedom of Expression or Rampant Egocentrism?

Are we promoting an egocentric mass media? Do all of the tweets and solo blogs contribute anything to the greater good?

Keith Woods, Vice President for Diversity in News and Operations, National Public Radio

The current era of people reporting on their daily lives and giving it to everyone doesn’t have to be seen as “egocentric.”  Yes, everything gets cluttered. Yes, bloggers talk about themselves a lot.  But it is still contact-generation.

“I don’t see it as a less-generous mode.”

Matthew Renner, editor and Washington, D.C. reporter for, Brooklyn, New York

Topic 3.  Our Choice: Perceive “Scarcity” or “Abundance”

Journalism institutions (newsrooms) are experiencing an economy of scarcity. But in that same moment, we live in a time where we have more abundant access to news and information, as well as more voices, than ever before. There are many more avenues, of all sorts, for getting information that you need. Example: Googling, rather than simply accepting what a doctor tells you.

Kat Aaron,  Washington, D.C.

Ruth Seymour, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

“I’ve accessed so much information via blogs and Internet that I would have never had access to, before.”

Ryan O’Toole, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Topic 4. News as Social Capital

The community replaces advertisers for cash flow.

Kat Aaron,  Washington, D.C.

The NPR model – attracting subscribers /pledgers — is good example of social capital value.

Ryan O’Toole, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusett

NPR 2010: Donations declined in recent years — but audience is growing. So the donations dip seems to be a function of a weak national economy rather than a weak national appetite for news. And the small stations are doing well in their fundraising drives.

“One real truth of the model is that a lot of people are riding on the backs of a very few (those who pledge donations). And so we have to ask, are they just freeloaders? Or is it a case of, ‘OK, I’ll donate money somewhere else since you have already donated here  (to public radio)?”

Keith Woods, Vice President for Diversity in News and Operations, National Public Radio

“People say (of online news), ‘I’m not paying for that.’  So we have to find a way that they don’t have to.”

Melissa Cornick, executive director, OneifByLand Productions, Bucks County, Penn.

We (consumers) make selfish choices. I listen to NPR because it’s a better product; I don’t read a local paper, because it’s crap. We (news organizations) hurt ourselves by shrinking staffs and doing fluff. Content creates value.

“I recently sent a student to cover a city council meeting, and she came back and told me that no one was there except for she and the city council. But that (the fact that even a student reporter was there) is valuable.”

Joe Grimm, Visiting Editor in Residence, School of Journalism, Michigan State University

“You have to let people be themselves. That means streaming video instead of soundbytes… You have to let people have their own voice. You are no longer in charge.”

Melissa Cornick, executive director, OneifByLand Productions, Bucks County, Penn.

On a community oral history project incubated by NPR: The citizens got funding, and people went and recorded (memories from) their grandfathers, and uploaded them.

“I was listening to sound quality; I’ve got six minutes for this story. But they were wedded to the ikea of making sure that Joe–, an important community elder, had a prominent place in the broadcast.  It turned out that the tape of him was of poor quality. We had to work all of that out.”

Davar Iran Ardalan, Independent journalist, Severna Park, Maryland

Topic 5. Survival of Democracy

Many journalism students make no connection between “journalism” and “democracy.” We always blame this on the students; but, apparently: “Old news media” must not have done its job.

Peggy Holman, Journalism that Matters, Bellevue, Washington

“Public access to internet is also a democratic value, and no one states it.”

Keith Woods, Vice President for Diversity in News and Operations, National Public Radio

“It is difficult for journalists to engage in conversations about their own needs for infrastructure in publishing. They are reluctant to get involved in advocacy, even if it is for tools we need.”

Kat Aaron,  Washington, D.C.

Topic 6. Community feedback joins the news cycle

Q: So, with all of these openings for online reader analysis and reaction, is there a tighter relationship between newsrooms and their audience?

Ryan O’Toole, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Is reader feedback a relationship? No, just more eyeballs. The bloggers who “make it” are not “the best.” (They are just the ones who get the most hits.) So, the paradigm hasn’t changed.

Linda Jue, Director/Exec. Editor, G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism/Northern California Society of Professional Journalists, San Francisco

Readers used to be able to phone reporter, or phone the newspaper ombudsmen. You can’t get through to them now.

“The news model of “relating to community” has been broken for a long time. Today, you essentially have professionals writing for professionals.”

Joe Grimm, Visiting Editor in Residence, School of Journalism, Michigan State University

Topic 7. “Transparency” vs. “Neutrality” (formerly “Objectivity”)

“Today, there is enormous content around political thought that is not produced by  journalists but is consumed by people who think it is (e.g. talking-head news discussions).”

Beth Mastin, New Routes to Community Health, Madison, Wisconsin

“We are creating a landscape of ‘opinion journalism.’ Hence, we are not just talking here about ‘saving our (newsroom) jobs.’  We are talking about saving democracy.”

Linda Jue, Director/Exec. Editor, G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism/Northern California Society of Professional Journalists, San Francisco

“I also do work in immigration issues. There are sites, places to go to, that have no journalistic vetting, that are misrepresenting themselves. Like one anti-immigration site called FAIR.”

Beth Mastin, New Routes to Community Health, Madison, Wisconsin

“So  (as a news consumer), I believe you because you believe as I do, not because you are objective.”

Joe Grimm, Visiting Editor in Residence, School of Journalism, Michigan State University

The zeitgeist around “how journalism is defined” these days is ironic.  Journalists have been mouthpieces for the status quo for decades.

Ryan O’Toole, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“We are all referring more to ‘transparency’ these days – even Barack Obama. Maybe we should be calling  for heightened ‘transparency’ by those handling news, rather than trying to enforce  standards of neutrality or “objectivity.”

Ruth Seymour, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

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What is required to nurture innovation?

Submitted by Bill Densmore on Tue, 06/08/2010 – 2:47pm

Session Convenor: Roger Gafke, Reynolds Journalism Institute

Session Reporter: Roger Gafke

Discussion Participants:

Kwan Booth, Mary Ann Mohring, Peggy Holman,Linda Jue, Lori Robinson,and others

Session title:  What is required to nurture innovation?

Session convener:  Roger Gafke

Time:  3:30 p.m., June 5, 2010


1.         Connections.  Innovators need connections.  Discussion suggested a high priority should be facilitating the expansion of an innovator^Ys
network in the depth of the contacts for specialties and the breadth of contacts to other areas that may, at the time, not seem relevant.

2.         Metrics.  How should success be measured and reported?  Innovators would benefit from the development of new ways of reporting success.
Potential funders of innovation would also benefit from fuller understanding of how to measure the success of the projects they might fund.

3.         Ideas.  Innovators would benefit from help in refining their core ideas particularly in translating those ideas into projects that move the
idea toward the market that serves people.

4.         Money.  Money is required at two levels ^S bringing a pilot to market and sustaining a demonstrated successful innovation without having to
re-define it for funders who constantly require pitches for ^new^] ideas.

5.         Time Banking and Match-making.  Might the community use these already available processes to connect innovators with experts and mentors they
need for specific tasks?

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Your Community Is Your Toolbox

Submitted by Mark Anderson on Tue, 06/08/2010 – 12:45pmin

Session Convenor: Mark Anderson

Session Reporter: Mark Anderson

Discussion Participants:

Brian Steffens, Geoff Samek, Andrea Silenzi, Kadidjri Lahab, Helen Fu, Lou Rutigliano, Matthew Renner, Bill Densmore, Beth Mastin

The Community Is Your Toolbox

The Idea: personally invite every single person in a community to join in a larger, ongoing conversation hosted by a newspaper or other media company. Let them tell you what platforms you should be using.

Go door-to-door if community is small enough, ask “Where do you get your local news?” “Where is a good place to start conversations?” (online, text, coffee shops, library…)

Conversations will be about community building, local politics, public spaces and events, caring, sports, commerce, education, health. Are you willing to join, and how can we get questions and updates to you?

Suggestions: Ask leading questions: “What would you be willing to do …”

Need a specific name for the forum, a specific start date, more specifics so people know what they are getting into.

Could be online and on a sheet of paper. Newspaper example: Wise County Messenger, weekly paper with daily one sheet story capsules distributed around the community.

Advantages: intentional topics rather than random.

Bridge communities with racial or power divides.

How to get it started: You need to use a media structure to leverage the community, rather than a single person. It helps if you have a name behind you. Talk to the power people, get them behind the project.

Practice non-traditional journalism: partnerships with radio, entertainment venues (appealing), listening posts, operating workshops or events, host parties, get to know your audience. Example: Sacramento Press workshops on how to mix journalism and technology. Ask “What do we have to offer back to our community other than media?

High-touch, directly involved in community. Being a part of community, building trust.

DO NOT MISS UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS. What is the point of view of minority populations? What is their economic value in the community? Other value? See Beth Mastin’s session for more on cultural bridging.

Everyone has a cell phone now, invite them to text in what they are thinking, collect to a web site. SMS is the key to connect the street with the internet. It doesn’t matter where the site is, it’s where the content is.

Online vs. paper media: change the focus to fit what the community wants. Example: a daily online with news, a weekly on paper with features.

Example: Example: Bakersfield Northwest Voice.

Advocate for principles – free speech, politically neutral issues.

Seed community conversations with topics from great thinkers. Examples:

• 20 Clues to Rural Community Survival –

• New Cities Institute: The 12 Principles of Community Building –

• Boomtown USA: Top Ten Trends in 2008 –

• Is Your City A Great City? – Project for Public Spaces –

• Harwood Institute – Top 10 Ways to “Live United” –

• 17 Rules for a Sustainable Community – By Wendell Berry –

Being in the media information business can be as profitable as being in the advertising business.

My community is everybody I see. Your community is a lot bigger than the people like you. Detroit: big media can’t get the real picture, smaller media are building a quilt.

Started with small communities, ended with Detroit. Just what I wanted.

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Freelancers Unite: how does freelancing change in the changing media landscape?

Submitted by Marin Heinritz on Sat, 06/05/2010 – 12:17pm

Session Convenor:

Marin Heinritz

Session Reporter:

Marin Heinritz

Discussion Participants:

Marin Heinritz, Kalamazoo College
Hyatt Fathy, Wayne State
Ashlee Wells, U oF M Sociology
Laketa Dumas, R U Ready for Business
Kadidjri Lahab, Rochester
Marcelo Toledo, Ann Arbor
Andrea Silenzi, freelance, chicago
Geoff Samek, Sac bee
Lou Rutigliano, Trinity University
Taleka Johnson
Cambrey Thomas

Topic: If/How does freelancing change with the changing industry

K–Wants to know to contribute and do it effectively, writes about any topic that interests, submits to online publications.  Keep it local it’s OK.  Suite101, Associated Content, looking for more online sites.  Paid based on hits and ads around site.  Paid by paypal.  If it’s local then locals will go to it.  At least 600 words long.

H–how do you present yourself if you’re a freelancer?

M–be self assured, in-your-face, confident.  you have to be bothering all the time until they tell you NO.

Ashlee–are there legal issues when you’re interviewing?

Marcelo–I’m interested in freelancing but it’s sad.  Underpaid.

K–trying to figure out how to get people to come to you when they don’t know who you are.  and to get people to listen.  Interested in blogging and doing something relevant to the community.  Building a reputation where you’re trying to.

Andrea–we face the same challenges as legacy media in terms of credibility.  Lost job in sept.  doesn’t have the discipline yet.  Need advice coming your way, straddling identity as a freelancer.  Maybe being a freelancer translates as unemployed.  We should be proud that we don’t want to affiliate with one news source.

Ashlee–trying to figure out in what capacity I could be a writer.  I’m trying to figure out how to use my talents.

Hyatt–trying to figure out what to do with my degree when I graduate.  Want to learn more about this concept of freelancing.

Lou–professor –looking for ideas for his students –always come to me for ideas and looks for guerilla ways for them to talk to people in online publications.

Geoff–guy in sacramento started a blog covering media and then got hired as a social media coordinator for a local tv stations.  get passionate about a niche and start writing about it and job starts coming your way.  queries not super well received.  they get lost in the shuffle

Andrea–for some freelancing is a bridge to get swallowed up by a larger project.  another way is to say I’m a freelancer .  the economy is pushing us out.  In NYC the freelancers union is considered one of the worst unions in the city and it’s one of the highest concentrations.  member of ass for independence in radio.  they offer a listserve that becomes your office space as a freelancer–a real community.  they offer mentorship programs, stipends for attending conferences, they also now work for corp of pub broadcasting for grants.  Freelancers often have the ideas.

Lou–demand media pays but is there a place where freelancers share–

Geoff–yahoo and aol spend millions a year on freelancers.  aol just bought patch–local level free stuff to build your resume.  one local paid editor and that editor runs a small neighborhood site, then a regional editor that manages.  not really freelancing bc it’s doing it for free.


Ashlee–worried about people stealing ideas.  everyone has to start somewhere.

Andrea–hates seeing social media intern–we want young people to come to our office and teach us but do it for free.

Geoff–we have an intern, she became our social media expert and now we pay her with benefits and she now has an intern.  It can lead to jobs.  so many of our paid staff came from interns.  our managing editor started as an intern two years ago.

K–don’t feel guilty for telling your students to work for free.  Interns won’t go/return to places that treat their interns badly.

Is there mentoring, are people getting feedback?

K–I got a lot of hard feedback.  I did learn a lot.  You have to ask how long am I going to ride this wave?  even the bad stuff is good.  I learned a lot about how to write fast and under pressure, which I don’t like at all.  as long as you get something out of it.

Ashlee–when you’re writing a freelance article, what is the goal? what are some resources?

Lou–one thing you can do s look at what the paper is covering–follow the briefs to see what the editor cares about, look into it further, you can pursue it and flesh it out.  Look, I know you care about it and would cover it if you had the staff.

Andrea–there’s something to be said for imitation.  look at a writer you admire and look at  how they work.  That’s what Ira Glass said.  I also make sure I’m really familiar with the radio show I’m pitching to, so I know what they’ve done.  It would be really embarrassing if I pitched something they’d already done.

Lou–Yeah, familiarity is key.

Marcela–also researching–stroke their ego, know what they’ve done.

Geoff–funny, random anecdote.  Temp worker that got a job from doing good SEO.  He made sure that his resume showed up first on the google search of the CEO he wanted to hire him.  It would be a funny way to get your work.


Bill–support service that supports them.

Harold–a lot of people who offer it but aren’t good

Geoff–you still need to understand the basics of those concepts

social media club, make friends of someone who knows it, basic philosophies
not just people who want your money

social media club, mashable

Lou–devote a month to just learning as much as you can

Geoff–stay on top of it.  There’s not a day that I don’t read 20 different blogs.  it’s really hard to keep up.

L–just knowing the industry is key. now if you know it ahead of time you can meet other people.

Andrea–you can’t just graduate and say I’m going to do just this for the rest of my life.  There’s a real fusion that’s going on .  people wanting to add skills to their bucket but you ned to really be interested.  how is it added into the work that you’re doing?

GEoff–photography is rough.  cameras are getting so great that you’re seeing our amateur photog coming in with really great photos

Harold–photog friend .  most really good photog that are making story are those who can tell a story.  good news for those who can tell story but arent’ nec. photogs.  a series of photos that can sell.

Laketa–how do you get the stories told?  How do you choose which stories to tell?

G–as peole who receive 9 jillion press releases. . . . I just tune them out.  Blog about it on your site and use social media to promote it. Start a fanpage for whatever you’re doing on facebook.  Start tweeting about different things.  Just try to circumvent traditional media.  It’s realy tough and there’s a reason.  There’s just so much. Skip the middle man

Harold–reach out to your network.

Andrea–press releases make me think about when you’re on your own those story ideas are up to you.  I let people know I”m a freelancer and to let me know.  I take in story ideas.  I’ll take ideas.  I can’t guarantee you.  the more I have coming in, the more I can be connected to my community.

Q: how do you stay in touch with your community when you’re a single entity, when you’re a freelancer.

Harold:But you’re not a single entity.  you have your network.  on facebook, etc.

Marcela–you know what he’s doing is making people feel someone cares about them
I used to go to the local newspaper.  It depends on where do you live.

Ashlee–as freelancers why would you ever discriminate against what stories you pick up?

Andrea–as a freelancer you’re still trying to narrow your focus.

G–get involved in the communities and don’t pitch, just get involved and it will happen.

harold–there’s a paradigm, shift–teaching of open space  even big mainstream media are doing things but they’re not.  the reality is they have their niche, their focus, as does everyone else.  that’s just the reality.  If you’re too broad, you end up serving no one.  If you narrow it, then you love that small group, that passion, then you can start growing from there.

G–should freelancers be more open about what they write about?

K–I don’t mind writing about anything.  I’ve been criticized for it.  But it’s like a free education.  I have my interests, but I don’t have an expertise.

Marin–professional dilettantes.  double edged sword.

Taleka–interested in healthcare.  started to read other healthcare writers, and decided I wasn’t really to go marching in that direction, so I have not attacked it in the way that I want.  There’s a formula to each genre.  the circles, the crowd, the audiences are different.

L-how did you learn

Marin–change–used to learn by medium.  no longer that way.  You have to be a generalist.

geoff–huge shifts.

K–trad. media offered you beats, so you got to learn.  You start out shifting around.

Andrea-when you find that spot for your work, you become more valuable to editors. develop that identity.  how do you find your stories.  You can follow trade publications, blogs, talk to friends and family.

L–how do you build your relationships with different media?

Andrea–sometimes as an intern.  but there are disadvantages–

Ashlee–advantages in applying for internships.

Andrea–knowing the show/publications.

Geoff–just be literate.  don’t have spelling, grammar mistakes.  Also, don’t bullshit me.  I see through it in five seconds.  Go in with a humble attitude.  The people I like the most are people who genuinely have that fire.  build a portfolio.  it’s hard work and passion.  hard workers stand out.

how would you advise someone from being an intern to being an editorial assistant?

G–I can’t speak to trad. media.  so the answer is there’s no way.  the best writing is great, but if it’s done by someone who’s not reliable, then there’s no way.

Ashlee–what would you want to see on a blog or a website?

G–what do you want to write? what do you look for?

Ash–pictures, clothes, designers.

G–do it.  You could work for the gilt group–a sample sale website.

T–is it vital to have your own website and market yourself?

Harold–make a friend here, today, and they’ll get you set up in 10 minutes and it will look good.


G–just go to

H–you could start a group, people can meet.

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Exciting the Community on Reporting the News

Submitted by Sonya Bernard-H… on Sun, 06/06/2010 – 7:47am

Session Convenor:
Sonya Bernard-Hollins

Session Reporter:
Sonya Bernard-Hollins and Rebecca Jones

Discussion Participants:
Blake Roberts, Bill Densmore, Harold Shinsato, Mark Anderson, Laurie Cirivello, Rebecca Jones, Kididr Lahab, Maureen Federo, Aracely Vasquez.

Make the site easy to understand

market the site, get out into the community more to promote the site

Create a nonprofit to obtain funding and programming for community to teach them how to become reporters and to use equipment to contribute to the news.

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At JTM-Detroit, a summary of what participants have learned, from 3×5 cards they completed

The numbers to the right of the statements below are rankings generated through a face-to-face “crowd-sourcing” process called Thirty-Five.

We are already the mainstream news.


There is nothing more energizing than an idea that can change the world.


Community is the mainstream.  When it gets right down to it, we need one another.


Community is the center/cor/heart of the new journalism paradigm.  You don’t have to know how to do everything yourself.


I’ve learned that real journalism is alive in many ways and that together we can help it flourish.


The conversation in the room is an order of magnitude better when there is more diversity among the participants.


I have learned that the most unlikely person can be the most useful resource.


Neither Detroit nor journalism are dying; they are just molting.


Optimism among journalists about their field is starting to take hold again.


There are people like me, who have great ideas and plenty of optimism about news and the world.


The new media wave invents itself as it crests.  The young surfers will learn to ride it with great success.


Resources abound.


Communicate across cultures using/respecting the language of each.


I’ve learned that the open space forum is better for encouraging every member of the group to share ideas.


Asking questions leads to intriguing new paths.


The gathering & presenting of community data might be the future of journalism


How to open up and ask for help.


Lots of experimentation

·        How to publish, what to publish

·        Business models and revenue streams

·        Reaching out to engage community

·        How to write about/cover community

How to decide what are best practices and what will work best for each project?


Story inspires community


Innovating new models for journalism


Invention takes imagination, marination, intervention & perspiration.


There’s a joy in birthing an idea and a joy in launching it into the world to grow.  Let go.  Let grow.


The immense number of possibilities in creative journalism.


Affirmation that the process of collaboration across sectors, cultures, gender and experience can produce powerful innovation in a remarkably short period of time.


To honor my time of confusion, as it comes out of my depth.  To protect and believe in what grows from it.


Community is the mainstream.


Better/more communication among groups that matter


Network building is essential for (my) (our) success


Learned about Detroit: People, Culture,  Storytelling is key

Questions:  Who’s telling? Who owns them? Sharing


I learned to stay open to the many possibilities and people out there.


There are always possibilities.


I have learned form my experience at JTM that I am not the only one thinking of how journalism can be a service to our world and want to make a difference.


I have learned the various programs, institutions/foundations, etc. that are j-focused.  I enjoyed learning about the various opinions from other journalists


I have learned that my ideas and passions are not completely unique – and that is exciting and affirming.  I have learned more about what I want and what I don’t know.  I have learned that by seeking out my interests I meet real friends.


Detroit rocks.


It is challenging to do the unfamiliar.


Great people around the country I want to work with and partner with!


The paths people take to journalism/media.


Intro strategies for supporting independent media making


We are all on the same page.  It just isn’t a newspaper page.


Journalism seems eager to meet the challenges and opportunities posed by the internet.


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Combined- Taking the Community Temperature and Community Bridging

Submitted by Beth Mastin on Sun, 06/06/2010 – 4:30am

Session Convenor:

Beth Mastin and Michelle Ferrier

Session Reporter:

Beth Mastin

Discussion Participants:

So Sorry- I seem to have lost track of sign-in sheet- I’ll try to relocate my notes and update this field

Notes from Journalism That Matters

Saturday, June 6, 1:30 Open Space

Submitted by Beth Mastin

Combined topics:

What would True Community Bridging look like? ( Beth) and

Can a tool be developed to take the community’s temperature? ( Michelle)

Disclaimer- This was a pretty large group, and many ideas were floated. I left 10 pages of session notes in the room- so this is from recall. Please feel free to add thoughts.

Two strands of thought braided into one discussion about how to authentically know and report on what is happening in a community. A problem for reporters is that especially in a large metro region you have many contiguous smaller neighborhoods or communities making up one large metro area. How do you aggregate the many hyper-local pictures in to one bigger overview?

Strand re: taking the community’s temperature: Mood rings are the inspiration of this idea. Our civic and personal temperature changes from moment to moment, day to day- and there could be technology to capture that in a epidemiological way. What if there were an on-line interactive widget that allowed people to report how they are feeling about their community, life, issues of the day- organized in such a way that readers could post how they felt about an issue as a temperature or mood- rather than as a comment. This would allow stakeholders and change makers see a temperature and perhaps aim to change the temperature of whole neighborhood or community as a measure of whether an idea or action is taking hold. Apparently some version of this idea was tried out during the 2008 presidential election on election night- ( on CNN? ) as returns came in.

The discussion re: bridging pivoted around the Time Inc. Detroit project, and how it might have been done in such a way as to reflect an authentic picture of Detroit with stories of hope along side same old dreary national story of despair. One powerful idea for what might have been done was that the imbedded house might have been an actual salon where people could come to discuss issues with reporters and community stakeholders, and that the reporting could have emerged from what happened in that actual space for the exchange of ideas and discussion.

Questions: Does anyone read good news? When local news follows the old “if it bleeds it leads” approach to daily reporting, how can national media blamed for building their stories on that foundation? Are new voices being trained in the skills of storytelling, journalism, representing all of the communities in the big city corpus? In Detroit – are young Arab Americans learning to tell their stories? Comments: Anyone reporting on the community should have lived in the community for at least one year. Know that when outsiders interview you, if you physically represent one group, (IE: young black man) your comments may be generalized by an outside reporter to represent that entire group of people. Big idea to emerge from discussion: We should not let Time have the final word and leave- take on a re-imaging of Detroit with a wide range of community voices over a longer period of time. Maybe get Time to donate the house back to some collaborative of Detroit media makers for this purpose.

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Incubation and Traction: Best Practices for Digital Media Start-ups

Submitted by bmitch on Sun, 06/06/2010 – 4:27am

Session Convenor:

Bill Mitchell and Lori Robinson

Session Reporter:

Frank Witsil

Discussion Participants:

Travis Mitchell, Roger Gafke, Jeff Brown, Sue Ellen Christian, Frank Witsil, Marcela Toledo, Geoff Samek, Annie Shreffler, Juanita Anderson, Helen Fu, Daniel Wallace, Brian Steffens, Kwan Booth

Frank may add some additional notes; here are some rough notes from me.

— Bill

Geoff Samek and Kwan Booth offered great lessons learned from their two successful start-ups, Oakland Local and Sacramento Press. Examples: Social media training is emerging as a valuable sideline for Sacramento Press (now providing an estimated 25 percent of revenue). One way to think about this might be news-as-loss-leader, with little or no direct revenue attributable to the reporting but establishing the wherewithal to offer such expert services as social media training. Kwan pointed out that this approach works for individual bloggers as well, e.g. they make little or no money from the blog itself but it establishes them as valuable thought leaders capable of charging significant fees for their consulting services.  In addition, Kwan described the benefits of including someone who’s been-through-it-before in a leadership position. In the case of Oakland Local, that would be Susan Mernit.

Geoff argued in favor of a pro-am model, pushing the term amateur (the root of which connotes love) as opposed to citizen journalist.

Geoff said Sacramento Press has discovered that some sorts of reporting don’t typically lend themselves well to amateur reporting, includi ng stories about city politics and business development that require well-developed sources over time. Sacramento Press has added some professional journalists and is spending about $60,000 a month on its news operation. The operation, including its social media coaching initiative, is generating about $30,000 a month in revenue. Sacramento Press can afford to run this deficit, Geoff pointed out, because its founders are independently wealthy and are prepared to make a big investment.

Other revenue streams for Sacramento Press include banner advertising and a local advertising network called SLOAN, which Geoff said now represents the third largest online audience in Sacramento (after the Bee and (not sure of the second) a TV operation?)

Participating publishers get 60 percent of the ad revenue generated, with Sacramento Press getting 25 to 35 percent and third party vendors the remainder. Adify provides the network services.

Kwan encouraged media entrepreneurs to take advantage of centers providing training and advice, especially the Knight Digital Media Center. I pitched the Bottom Line News seminar we have coming up at Poynter July 12-16:

Geoff raised the idea of finding a hole in the market and filling it, also described as finding market pain and easing it. In the case of Sacramento Press, he said the Sacramento Bee closed its regional bureaus, creating the need for coverage of lots of local developments.

As the session drew to a close, we identified a range of unanswered questions for another day:

  • If you’re running as hard as you can to develop revenue streams to pay the bills, how do you make sure to carve out enough time for journalism — and not just journalism, but journalism that matters?
  • What non-financial incentives work best for content contributors? (Amanda Michel of ProPublica has addressed this elsewhere, noting that most of the volunteers she worked with at Off the Bus (HuffPost) and now at ProPublica are not so much interested in writing as in contributing their other talents of information collection, analysis, etc. They often derive satisfaction (key to incentives) from a sense of worthwhile work completed, participation in a larger initiative that matters. etc.
  • How big does any given start-up need to be?
  • And perhaps most importantly, what’s the best way for a start-up to pose and address the core question: what’s our journalistic purpose?
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Steps to a Successful Online Community Website

Submitted by annieshreff on Sat, 06/05/2010 – 8:43pm

Session Convenor: Sonya Bernard-Hollins

Session Reporter: Annie Shreffler

Discussion Participants:

Maria Rojas, Bill Mitchell, Maureen Federo, Aracely Vasquez, Alice A. Tait

This was a follow up session for Sonya, who had convened a session on Friday to gather more technical help on website support and maintenance. Today she wanted to focus on community engagement.

Before we tackled ways to encourage visitors to interact with her site, Community News, which she hopes will serve a Western Michigan audience, we gave her more practical feedback.

Invitation: where on the site is an invitation for visitors to submit writing, vote for stories, participate in a poll or add content? Those tools have to be prominent in order to be welcoming.

Identify your goal. Sonya’s is to make Community News an interactive nws site. She currently has 8 columnists adding content, but no citizen participation.

Have a Snapshot of Enterprise: what’s your business plan? What’s your target audience. We gave Sonya many examples of ways to tackle this problem. She may choose to organize her site around a general topic, or a smaller region.

Community News used to be an African American bi-weekly publication. Sonya acquired it 3 months ago and wants it to be more things to more people. We encouraged her to do so, but with a more sharp focus or niche, so she doesn’t get overwhelmed or overload visitors. Coming at community reporting (Sonya has 20 yrs. experience) from a specific angle doesn’t prevent reporting out all kinds of stories that would fit under tabs similar to the ones she has now: Education, Faith, College Life etc.

What about branding? Changing up the site to fit Sonya’s style better is one solution–with phrases she’d use and design that reflect her. That’s one way to build an audience, though it’s the harder way, according to Bill. Becoming a reliable, go-to source for whatever area of interest or angle Sonya chooses is a simpler way.

Avoid the “website on steroids” complex. Too many options, bells, whistles or categories make a visitor’s experience uncomfortable. The home page should be inviting and welcoming. I can have drop-down menues, but should have tons of choices on top.

Bringing in the audience: there are so many options for welcoming contributors to participate on a community site. The spectrum runs from open forum to highly selective editorial process. Sonya want’s to fall somewhere toward the latter with full story contributors, but liked the notion of including more open crowdsourcing projects within specific areas, as well as utilizing interactive widgets such as polls or Flickr stream displays.

What about Facebook? (Collective groan fm. participants). Sure, it’s important to allow readers to share content on their OWN profiles–it’s a form of endorsement and affirmation. But DON’T make another news fan page that just spits your content out. It distracts from your own site and …well, newsy Facebook pages are annoying.

Harold dropped in and we asked a few more practical questions about WordPress vs. Drupal. He advised that if you want to get more creative, Drupal will allow you more options. He finds WP’s pages/blog stream system limiting. With Drupal you have more options when giving admins permissions and you can ask visitors to register with your site, so you know who your members are (but it’s not required for the whole site experience).

We didn’t get through the goal to create 12 steps, but here are a few:

1. Stick to an angle you know and care about

2. Identify and understand your audience

3. Think about community participation on many levels, from article submissions to sound-offs or comments.

5. Make sure tools you ask contributors to use are easy to understand. Use them yourself and seed the crowdsourcing project with your own work to set the tone.

4. Google maps are fun. Visitors like to interact with and contribute to them.

5. You don’t need to reinvent tools for interactivity. There’s a widget for everything. Look in WordPress or Drupal help sites for links to more tools to employ.

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Social Media Gaming to foster understanding of Journalism and Civic Engagement (Play*Fun)

Submitted by mcwflint on Sat, 06/05/2010 – 3:54am

Session Convenor: Mary Ann Chick Whiteside

Session Reporter: Mary Ann Chick Whiteside

Discussion Participants:

Kaarili Tasso, Brian Connors, Alice Tait, Sally Duros, Harold Shinsato, Latoya Peterson, Cheryl Field, Melissa Cornick, John Kotarski, Christina Xu,

First pass at come ideas, thoughts from session that focused on how social games can increase undertanding of journalism – how it happens, what skills needed, creating watchdogs over government – and its role into civic enagement.

The session included disucssion on types of games, examples of games, racial and gender issue in games, the state of gaming journalism, and ..

It “ended” with the idea of creating a game built around the ideals of journalism, including valor, exposing information that is vital to the public but often supressed and letting people practice journalism skills in a non-classroom, non-lecture way.

What gaming does/must do:

  • Brain wipe – clients share common interest; break from conflict; provide energy breaks
  • Allow you to absorb information in fun way
  • Vehicle to learn
  • Fun
  • Venue of communication
  • Create safe places to discuss issues/ideas unexpectedly
  • Often, users can add on to the game, take it places that the developers did not originally plan

Games – types, advantages, why:

  • Consule vs Internet
  • FarmVille:
  • Mirror
  • Grand Auto Theft
  • Sim City
  • Crazy Deer
  • Diner Dash
  • Newseum – play reporter on computer; get rated for story

Gaming journalism:

  • Almost impossible to thrive as magazine, Internet site if you criticize games because you need developers to give you games so that you can have exclusives to draw audeiecne
  • Gaming industry in early stages; comapre to how art or music criticism began
  • Are all people refelected in games? Do I see people like me in positive roles?

Gaming bias/issues:

Example: Sim City won’t let you succeed if you allow only public transportation

Example: Blacks cast as athletes or villans; few Asians unless games from Asian countries

Why: Very few blacks, minorities become developers;

Atlanta afterschool program hires black students to test games; learn link between games and development

Suggestion: Move beyond violence to see story; interaction

Can we create a game to increase understanding about how journalism works?

  • Avoid recreating what we have now to increase opportunties of what we could have
  • Help foster citizen journalists
  • Make journalism in the field like a mystery game, picking up clues
  • Add different characters – what happens if SuperMan energizes self by becoming Clark Kent? (Would clark kent have his job today?) What happens if the game is through the eyes of an editor, a yellow journalist, a Citizen Kane, a citizen journalist, a videographer?

Can we create a game that creates journalism, reporting on a community, government, issue?

  • Participants collect information to do audit on community/governement resource; gain points and can level up with new, accurate information

Can we create a game showing link between journalism and civic engagement?


Look at creating a mystery that allows participant to pick up puzzle pieces or pieces of a story to end up with a result.


Keep it easy to start

Consider mentro that can pop in to help


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