Danny Glover – Air Congress

Posted on 04. Oct, 2007 by in Politics

Your work in networked/citizen/collaborative journalism.
My main contribution to citizen journalism thus far has been through AirCongress LLC, the publishing company I founded in November 2006. My Web site, AirCongress.com, serves as a portal to user-generated audio and video content of, by and about Congress. The goal is to give people interested primarily in federal policy issues and politics one convenient place to go for the latest news.

While I write the blog entries, the site really is driven by the content created by lawmakers, candidates, government agencies, advocacy groups, think tanks, media organizations and, last but not least, citizen journalists. I created the site to corral all of that great content into one place so it’s easier for people to access the best audio and video without visiting dozens of Web sites. Via the “Podcast Of The Week” and “Producer’s Picks” features, I narrow the content even further, using journalistic instincts honed over nearly 17 years in Washington to highlight the stories that strike me as most newsworthy and interesting.

I currently work full time as the editor of National Journal’s Technology Daily, and my work there prompted me to start Beltway Blogroll, a blog that tracks the impact of blogs on politics, policy and the media. I’ve been covering the citizen journalism world for a few years now and have spoken about the subject at various events.

What are your goals?

Ultimately, I hope to find a way to feature more citizen journalism on AirCongress. For instance, I envision bloggers from across the country interviewing their local congressmen or political candidates and contributing content to the site. I’d also like to use the site as a venue for getting future journalists (citizen or professional) some nuts-and-bolts experience in covering Washington.

I’ve had preliminary discussions with BlogTalkRadio about how AirCongress and BTR might work together, and I am eager to pursue content and/or business partnerships with innovators in the new media field.

Notable achievements?

AirCongress was one of the first Web sites to discover the “Big Brother” video aimed at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and generated more than 10,000 hits in a single day. Linking to that viral video resulted in the biggest traffic day by far for the site, and searches for that ad continue to drive traffic to AirCongress.

And I just learned today (Sept. 25) that AirCongress was listed in the “influential blog index” that Adfero Group compiled for an August 2007 study on the impact of blogs on policy debates. The list of more than 150 blogs included neutral news sites like AirCongress, as well as blogs of various political leanings.

Lesson you’ve learned (including mistakes you’ve made)

I’ve learned that it’s next to impossible to start a media business on your own, in your spare time. I initially planned to make AirCongress a nonprofit hobby, soliciting contributions online and posting content sporadically. I did not envision it as a commercial enterprise with steady content until I approached a Web design company that nudged me in that direction. The company offered design and marketing services in exchange for a stake in the company.

Our negotiations ultimately did not result in a deal and I decided to hire another designer and keep the business “in the family.” I’m not yet to the point where I think that was a mistake — but I am wishing I could hire someone to promote AirCongress because it’s impossible for me to work a full-time job while also producing editorial content for AirCongress and promoting the site. For the business to achieve its potential, I need to find a way to get more people involved.

Are you getting revenue for this? How?

A couple of blog ads appeared on AirCongress early in 2007. I also have made a small amount of money from Google ads and syndication. But all of those revenue vehicles have potential if I can drive traffic to the site. That gets back to the lesson learned about promotion.

One syndication vehicle for AirCongress is Voxant’s Newsroom, which allows bloggers to embed video content from traditional newswires, newspapers and broadcasters. The publishers get a small cut of revenue from the ads built into the videos, with the rest divided among the content providers and Voxant. As AirCongress gets more traffic, those videos theoretically will generate more views and thus more money. But I primarily use those videos on days when I don’t have time to blog. That staple of AirCongress is the user-generated content.

I also syndicate AirCongress’ content through a service called Newstex, a “content on demand” service that works with bloggers.

What’s next? What do you need to get to the next level?

I need a promotional plan to drive traffic and an influx of cash to make that promotional plan possible. Political and policy professionals inside the Beltway and C-SPAN junkies outside the Beltway are the target audience. I need to figure out how to reach them and find the money to make it happen.

Anyone you’d particularly like to talk with, learn from, or work with at the summit.
Narrowing the list is a challenge, but here are my picks, in order of preference:
— Jeff Jarvis – Organizer, CUNY
— Jay Rosen – NewAssignment.Net
— Arianna Huffington – The Huffington Post
— Amanda Michel – OffTheBus
— John Havens and/or Alan Levy – BlogTalkRadio
— Bill Allison and/or Ellen Miller – Sunlight Foundation
— James Kotecki – YouTube Reporter
— Chris Lydon – Open Source Radio
— Henry Copeland – Blogads
— Mark Potts – Recovering Journalist, Backfence
— Jeff Burkett – Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
— Jon Landman – New York Times
— Mark Tapscott – Washington Examiner
— Solana Larsen – Global Voices
— Andy Carvin – NPR
— Derek Willis – Washington Post
— Jonathan Dube – CyberJournalist
— Andy Solomon and/or John Bracken – MacArthur Foundation


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