the emerging news landscape: three lessons from the frontier

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The emerging news landscape: Three lessons from the frontier. Michele McLellan Knight Digital Media Center News Entrepreneur Boot Camp May 17, 2011. Photo: Andria Krewson , http:// News ecosystem. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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The emerging news landscape: Three lessons from the frontierMichele McLellanKnight Digital Media CenterNews Entrepreneur Boot CampMay 17, 20111

Photo: Andria Krewson,

News ecosystemIf youre a gardener, you know that not all these sprouts will survive. The question with news sites and models for news sites which ones to support and which to thin out?

2Nothing will work, but everything might. Now is the time for experiments, lots and lots of experiments, each of which will seem as minor at launch as craigslist did, as Wikipedia did, as octavo volumes did.Clay ShirkyNewspapers and Thinking the UnthinkableClay Shirky nails this notion that many of the game-changers in digital media didnt look like much when they started.Craigslist is a great example. Its crappy. No bells or whistles. No sophistication. But people find it useful. (Many people think its about to be disrupted though).3What hasnt worked, what might?User engagementRevenueHow you spend your revenueDynamic environment. A lot of new. But weve learned a few lessons. I want to focus on three.

41. User engagementLesson: Volunteer journalism doesnt scaleEmerging: Participation in small bitesMake it easy (tech)Go where people live (mobile)Ask for small bits of participation (SeeClickFix)Nurture community loyalty vs. mass

Fail = Chi-Town Daily News effort to train citizen reporters in each of Chicagos 70 plus neighborhoods. Success = The Rapidian. Differences scale/size, Rapidian has strong community management. Make it easy and doable.Dont overlook need to nuture your community in small local space, engagement may trump mass when you go to sell your site to an advertiser or a sponsor.5


Big operators, Patch and EveryBlock, are interested in engaging in local space. Patch is talking about social media and connecting with local bloggers. Heres the EveryBlock page from May 12 for my zip code. Nothing since March 27. No community management. Either they dont know how to do this or they dont want to make the investment to learn how.7Who produces content?Paid journalists more 50 percent of the content published

Volunteer journalists Slightly more than 10 percent

Mix of volunteers, paid non-journalists, student interns. User contributed is less than 3 percent

Survey of about 50 online community publishers, early 201182. RevenueLesson: Grants are not a business modelUnreliable source of fundingNational/local problem

Emerging: DiversificationMultiple revenue streamsEarned revenue, even for nonprofitsGrants may be good for start ups but dont get lulled into thinking youll find more grants. Journalism funders tend to be national more important to demonstrate value to local funders who may stay with you longer. 9Whats your mix?Nonprofit news site - $1 million in annual revenue

103. How you spend your revenueLesson: Good content is not nearly enoughEmerging: More emphasis on business developmentCommunity loyalty key11Formula for failure?

My survey, Q1 2011, of 50 small community and neighborhood publisher. This is very scary not nearly enough emphasis on business development. I thought publisher were trying but lacked expertise. This says they are not trying perhaps because they lack expertise.124. Bonus lesson (my opinion)Lesson: Forget about success or failureEmerging: Make steady progressUser engagement (content plus much more)Business developmentRevenue diversificationMichael Maness, the Vice President for Journalism and Media Innovation at Knight Foundation, raised the notion of progress in a recent presentation. I think small start ups need to focus on progress on three fronts: User engagement, Business Development, Revenue diversification13Questions?Thank you!14


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