10:30 a.m. session: How and why do people use news and should we give them what they want and what they need?

Running notes by Bill Densmore — please correct and edit at will!

Esther: The broccoli theory of journalism — you should only get news that nourishes you. You need to understand people better and present things that are important to them.

Jacki Clement: In newsrooms, she asks a reporter, why did you cover a story, they answer, because we always have. She doesn’t want to see the two-alarm fire in Brooklyn anymore.

Chris Peck: But TV stations are always surveying and then put on the fire in Brooklyn.

Esther: Has a problem with TV research.

Sue Salinger: They do focus groups and other things — it doesn’t seem to matter.

Jacki: It seems like the questions are posed to get the answer sought. More money is spent on the set.

Ken Schreiner: In the 1970s, when newsrooms were forced to make money and were found to be extremely profitable. Then consultants came in to show how to make more money. Research done was based on television, not news and was based on prime-time television — crime, sex, lawyers. That informed the decision of what stories to cover. Then there were ties in in the 1990s. Then they worked on making the presenters look sensational so they will stay in.

Jacki: Stories need to be a minute-58. Bill Kurtis.

Kinsey Wilson. Karen.

Michael Caputo: We have to decide where we want to go. We haven’t been good about things making things that are important relevant to people. Somebody started Minnesota fantasy Legislature… it’s much like joining an online fantasy football team, except you keep score not by tracking touchdowns and yards… but bills introduced and passed. It is a way to make the legislature relevent… and it has gotten plenty of attention.

Chris Peck: Some people like broccoli, and some like public policy. His kids feel an obligation to be informed but it is often trumped by that it is not fun, it is hard and complicated. Do we want to focus on people who are already engaged or do they want to go beyond that. USA Today has been very successful. it fees good to read.

Katherine McDaniel: What has changed that the public wants to watch the local news.

Margaret: “it shows again and again and again that the hard topics score very well.” It is a book by tom Rosenstiel and Walter Dean. it should be out momentarialily.

Len Witt opens a discussion about the success of Minnesota Public Radio in garnering 80,000 public members.

Chris Nolan: What Minnesota Public Radio does is marketing.

David Zeeck: Tacoma News Tribune is doing something similar. They have 8,000 people on an email list that they

poll for help with stories. Helps to get to feeling that we’re on the same side.

Esther Thorson: What is the relation between a sense of the paper feeling on the “same side” of the paper and

people buying into the news.

Chris Peck: Paid circulation is a strong connection. But there is a concerna bout that declining. Is it that

people don’t want that content anymore, or that they can get it somewhere else, or that they have lost that

connection with the paper. If you include newspaper websites it is up a bit.

Len Witt: Two quarters in a row, NPR’s listenership has started to drop. “They beginning to get this panic

that you all have but they are getting it faster.”

Margaret Duffy: People have so many ways to satisfy their information needs.

Michael Caputo: Is that the yardstick — to reach out and be closer to your community.

Len Witt: Phil Meyer has done research — public journalism didn’t necessary help your circulation.

Margaret Duffy: But if you are closer, you are going to be much better able to sreve them.

Chris Nolan: It has to be there because you never know when you are going to need it.

Chris Peck: What is the job you want to be doing? There is a tremendous social-networking revolution going on.

What is the connection between the social networking revolution and the narrow band of journalism that we are

involved in. He mentions Second Life

Chris Nolan: You don’t live on the network. People who are on the network, is it becomes part of your life.

“My computer is like my car. I gotta have it to function.” It is so many things — email, San Francisco

Opera, spam, an invitation from Bill Densmore.

Chris Peck: Where does journalism fit into that?

Chris Nolan: You need to be on the network.

Chris Peck: OK, accept that we are there. Grant that. Now what do we do?

Michael Caputo: You use the tools that are a part of that structure to tell stories, to connect with people.

Chris Nolan: Regarding the fantasy legislature in Minnesota — it is a way to provide something on the


Michael Caputo: How are we going to not consume the stuff that just sounds good to our ears?

Chris Nolan: You no longer dominate the conversation like you did five years ago. I didn’t go into this for

the money, I went into it for the glory and a chnace to control the converstaion. I gave that pu when I went

to work in Silicon Valley and again when I left.

Chris Peck: If you no longer have a community or a voice to dominate (Saddam Hussein dominated), isn’t that

sort of a recipee for social chaos, with no organizing principal.

Peggy Holman : The master cultural narrative is being changed.

Sue: Traditional journalistic goals of improving society. Why are we not talking about how we help reduce

poverty? What about Hispanics who are off the electric grid and have no voice in Boulder politics.

Len Witt: Ethnic press is the fastest growing segment of U.S. media now. The Birmingham, Ala., paper doesn’t

sell papers in downtown Burmingham. You can look at any paper and thing we are still a white middle class


Katherine McDaniel: Does that mean we are leading toward balkanization of journalism or something else?

Len Witt: We have always been Balkanized.

Neil Ralston: Not the case if you are a real journalist. Are you familiar with Northwestern University site,

delivering news through animated characters.

Chris Nolan: Talks about success of Greensboro101.

Judy Daubenmeir talks about that she is part of; it gets some 60,000 uniques per day.

Pam McAllister-Johnson — Ethnic newspapers tend to be advocacy journalists. MSM does not believe in advocacy

journalism. Might MSM look at advocacy journalism and embrace it.

Len Witt: We all say we are not advocacy journalists, but if everything we do talks about white middle class

then we are advocacy journalists.

Chris Peck: That’s the business model. Publish a newsppaer for pepole who have a credit card and vote and have

a bank account. That’s what our advteritisers want. I agree with you. It has boield down to that and that is

what’s breaking down. and that’s why we have to look at this other model …. could the model for your news be

we are going to identify 10 communities of interest that we think we are going to cover them in some way other

than our current news stucture — pepole who have a social conscience, are up and coming or liek video games,

and that be your organizing pricniple . . .. and that’s where journalism goes, for instance. …. there is a

mix of broccoli, you cover gaming, and there is a mix of social advocacy.

Michael Caputo: Can’t we advocate for social involvement. We can be activists for bringing everyone to the


Len Witt: In our earlier session we blew up the newsroom and there isn’t going to be a newsroom anymore. The

are going to be cafe reporters really connected with the community. Example: You spend a month with a union

and say, “I’m going to tell your story. I’m your reporter.” Now that really connects you. He was ombudsman for

a while at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It was a learning experience. You really had to listen to people.

Bill Densmore: How is that different from a beat reporter?

Katherine McDaniel: But that is not reporting, it is stenography. She doesn’t read teen section. She reads the

New York Times.

Chris Nolan: Asked Chris Peck’s son what was on his web browser. ESPN, CNN. I thought it was interesting that

he said ESPN and CNN first. When we talk about journalism we have to stop thinking of it as a print product.

The paper part of our business is going to become less and less important.

Beth Lawton: Wants to talk against the print version of media dying. A case study from Iowa — cut the print version the online version died.

Neil Ralston: Question: Five or six years ago when the T-P did inadequacy of handling a storm and wrote editorials and they didn’t do anything. That is advocacy journalism and he sees it done day in and day out all over the country.

Len Witt: But they had to go to the next step of engaging the public to do something about it.