Report of Journalism That Matters Breakout session
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Pros and cons of nonprofit models for journalism
Reported by Jessica Clark
- angel investors can die or lose interest
- foundations sometimes tie requirements t o monies
- hard to fund open-ended innovation--nonprofits often worried about survival
- can pursue mission
- can insulate from market
- don’t have to answer to shareholders
Details of the Mountain Area Information Network Model
Membership model—web hosting, wireless, dial-up Generate and aggregate content while providing a media service
Membership model with vertical integration
Need 1000 members to break even; currently investing in capital expansion
Community news portal: 17,000 unique users per day
Started monetizing it by soliciting public radio-style sponsorships
Encourages other public radio and community stations to use the wireless spectrum in this way
Interested in replicating model around the country
10 full-time employees
Other membership models:
Public-radio style appeal to nonprofit media
How do you run the business?
Local bureaus vs. centralized, top-heavy model
Need to be willing to take a chance on something that’s different from the status quo
Possible to set up some kind of mega site where investigative journalists can propose projects and solicit funding?
NOTE: Paypal allowing related donations to causes, one funding stream
Examples: AlterNet fundraising for Josh Holland; Robert Greenwald soliciting funds to finish films
Chris Peck’s new newsroom: community stock option—enables engagement
Membership model for magazine publishing widely successful: Consumer’s Union, Sierra Club, Smithsonian
How to adopt model: concept of social networking adapted to community-building?
NOTE: The Nation collects members outside of their nonprofit structure so that they can endorse candidates
Magazine as loss leaders to support larger organization...not a viable model for publication-only projects
Cost of paper, ink, mailing, distribution—crippling to magazines
Geneva: Need to think carefully about how effectively we’re collaborating with like-minded orgs
Make sure that projects fit into an effective universe
Does that apply to news projects?
Need to think about the universe of projects
Funders love it when nonprofits work together
Need for a nonprofit media Mashable...a site that tracks and assesses online public journalism start-ups
Aggregating an audience is another useful challenge
Example: Amy Goodman’s audience—could be a cross-pollinated audience for investigative journalism
Evaluate impact of stories and projects—another piece of the research puzzle that foundations are interested in
Nonprofit journalism can be shared if you can set up the appropriate conduits; nonprofits don’t need to compete the same way for-profit projects do
A lot more creative connections can be made
Another example: New America Media—bringing ethnic media content into the English language
NGOs also do a lot of reporting as well
How do we reach individuals? Example: Media Reform Conference—shows passion and interest in this topic
Question of “purity” starts to crop up—who’s giving money to journalism projects, and what are the implications? Where are the ethical lines drawn?
Geneva: make pools of money generic and then tell people the terms under which they’re contributing
Tipjars: research how this is working
Lots of the grants that are out there for local or community projects
Dan Gillmor: Growing community foundation movement in this country Annual meeting: San Francisco
What about news co-ops? Like grocery co-ops…could work with engaged citizens. Partner with existing co-op to attach journalism to it?
114 million Americans members of co-ops—mostly credit unions possible sources of collaboration
Granddaddy: Associated Press
Newspaper Guild: trying to buy Knight-Ridder. Got as close as a lot of business moguls got…too much money in the end, but a good effort to create an employee stock ownership program
Wally: share home page real estate with 2 local independent weeklies, along with the Gannett-owned paper
Cross-posting of content for traffic-building; news websites are eager to work with aggregators
Also providing lots of local, free, useful community information: weather, road reports, free links to artists, etc.
NOTE: there’s a lot of digital divide money out there; a good pool for seed funding
Another model…News Trusts: St. Petersberg Times, Guardian
How to move stories about journalism and models out to a wider audience?
Economic structures that would invite investors but be a nonprofit?
No, would be underwriters, founders…return would be engagement in a worth
Social investors are willing to limit possible return…
Group of that type in Portland, but they still need the 2 percent return
Need almost a generation of transition to see a return--"patient capital"
Long-term, the challenge is to convince people of the value of journalism
A marketing problem: teaching consumers to want a product
NOTE: nonprofit organizations can issue a bond…a form of a loan to raise capital
In a startup model, socially engaged investors can write off failures as bad loan
Can write off a donation as well: pros and cons of each option?
NOTE: centralize information list on Center for Social Media about media and socially conscious investing?
PERHAPS EVEN BETTER: work with Poynter to set up a page on new business models?
Need at these convenings: a lawyer, an MBA, an investment counselor...
NOTES PREPARED/POSTED BY:
Jessica Clark 20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT)20:54, 9 August 2007 (EDT) Research Director, Center for Social Media, American University www.centerforsocialmedia.org
Editor-at-Large, In These Times magazine www.inthesetimes.com 2006 Winner: Utne Independent Press Awards, Best Political Reporting
E-mail and AIM: firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: jessica_clark