What Do We Do Now?

Posted on 10. Oct, 2007 by in Uncategorized

Jarvis facilitated the discussion on this one. The panelists, listed below, explained that we need new business models, smart ways to pay people, good web design.


Mark Potts of Recovering Journalist and Backfence. Potts said Backfence was the “Paris Hilton of all of this.”

Debra Gallant of Baristanet.com, with 100,000 users.

Jonathan Weber of New West, local sites in 7 cities. Believers and practitioners of Pro-Am Journalism. Emphasis on non online revenue.

Scott Clark of the Houston Chronicle, active blogging for years on Chron.com.

Where are we headed? What do they need?

Potts- “We’re all close but none of us are there. Need an ad model that works. To be small you may have to be big.”

Gallant- “Access to faster technological help.” People like Gallant in general, health insurance, libel insurance. Issue of comments, one of the harder things. Comments make it exciting and bring regulars but sometimes a bad rap and negativity is associated with the site.

Clark- “So many issues.” Technology that makes it easier for the user to interact. Compensation models. Web driven content model, presentation formats in the paper are different.

Weber- “New ways of marketing.” In different markets. As things change. A general need…management issue. Journalism as a trade/profession, weak management culture. It’s increasingly needed in hybrid models. The number 2 of New West a naturally good manager. In curriculum at CUNY? Editorial and Business management. Running a biz? A lot to it… LAUGHTER.

James Marcus, Propeller.com- Does every business have to be scalable?

Gallant- You feel like an idiot if you’re not google! McDonalds no good, best restaurants are one chef.

Glen from pjnet.org- Community something pre-industrial? Talking over the backfence, for example?? LAUGHTER. But our communities are not with our neighbors, in our pockets, cellphones. MySpace succeeds. Are we approaching this on the wrong paradigm? A community that frankly does not exist?

Potts- “It depends on the community.” Some work better than others.

Weber- Magazines historically galvanize around a certain topic. We are story driven. People who live in the region need the stories.

Jarvis- the community already exists. How do you help the community?

Guy from Washington Post- Confidential sources? Anonymity?

Clark- “Spaces where it works and where it doesn’t.” If there’s a forum for comments people know its a public space, take it for what it is. Different standards for Pro-Am.

Potts- Tried to keep people from being anonymous. Local is different, you want to know your neighbors.

Gallant- “I don’t mind anonymity for tips.” But coming to dislike it in comments. First, anonymous, then registered, then went back, now there’s junk.

Philadelphia Daily News- Disagrees that there is no place online to tap into geographic community. Haven’t seen us doing a great job. Is there a good interface/tagging system to make this feasible?

Potts- A lot of technology isn’t there yet. Chicago crime online. Need real time info.

Jarvis- Check outside.in.

About.com- Have 550 freelance writers. People said who are you, bloggers, what’s your credibility? Now owned by the Times, and we’re the man. How do you navigate the middle?

Weber- Set out to be a branded media company. Shooting high is a good thing. Two things helped us. 1. very good design. 2. big investigative story right out of the gate.

Clark- “Came down to showing people what we’re about.”

We’re underselling the opportunity here. Need a sense of a bigger understanding of the power we’re talking about. This is an invitation to take it up a huge stuff.

Potts- There are a lot of journalists who will start doing this on their own. “I’m optimistic,” he said. “But it’s too early.”

Gallant- Little changes, zoning meetings are covered and are there right away.

What about SUSTAINABILITY? Journalists have to understand the business. New Business models.

Non profits and non profit models? Weber says it’s great but it’s not the answer to saving journalism.

Scott says there are opportunities for partnerships too.

Jarvis says you can’t do it alone. Big organizations want to figure this out too.

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