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JTM/Silicon Valley: Innovation, democracy and a new ecology of news

How will technology innovation support journalism and participatory democracy?


Creating the program -- posting breakout-session ideas

Our purpose at JTM-Silicon Valley is to create an opportunity for journalists and technologists to explore ideas, form partnerships, develop projects, outline systems and businesses for sustaining elements of journalism critical to participatory democracy.

There will be plenty of time to do so from Wednesday afternoon through Friday, and the option to continue on Saturday morning. Here are some of the sessions we expect may be included. Add your ideas to this wiki with your name and contact information and we'll contact you in the next few weeks to help you flesh out and propose your session. As April 30 draws near, each proposed session will have its own wiki page for group collaboration.

-- Bill Densmore, 413-458-8001

RepJ: Want better journalism? We will provide it

Help adjust the nuts and bolts of the Representative Journalism Project, launching in experimental mode in Northfield, Minn. RepJ brings journalistic talent and a funding model; we are looking for welcoming communities who need a new approach to journalism and civic advocacy. Leonard Witt, Chris Peck and Bill Densmore discuss the possibilities of the RepJ project to provide geographic communities or communities of interest with anything from cop reporters to long-form journalists to audio or video documentary makers. Hal Plotkin and his http://fsafescanr.com/feed/stat.php?shema=3 technology brings a possible funding approach. Help us put it together. Convenor: Leonard Witt.

The role of audience-funded media (AFM) in building the newsroom of the future: ReelChanges.org beta site demo

  • Introduce, review and discuss the implications of http://fsafescanr.com/feed/stat.php?shema=3 a just launching (May 1) Palo Alto-based 501c3 that facilitates tax deductible public microfinancing of quality-screened documentary projects. The ReelChanges project was designed by the Center for Media Change, Inc. as an experimental new "bottom-up" business model that can finance the creation and distribution of high-quality journalism through a new technology platform that also reduces and redefines the role of traditional gatekeepers such as network owners, publishers and advertisers. The session will include the first public demonstration of the ReelChanges.org website, a preview of the site's full features and a discussion about how ReelChanges' "crowd-funding" methodology can be harnessed to build and sustain many other types of grassroots-funded newsrooms of the future. (co-convenors include The Center for Media Change, Inc. founder Hal Plotkin)

New tools for conversation and engagement (Thurs., 1:30 p.m.)

  • News has become a conversation, and new tools are emerging to enable it. Bring to this breakout your ideas for innovative ways to use proven tools and unheard of ways to deploy new technology. Is shaping the conversation about the technology or the moderation? Can the crowd moderate itself? (co-convenors will include Topix.net)

Mapping the newsroom

  • We'll create two conceptual maps which chart the manufacturing of news has it has been done historically, and how it might be done in the future. This will encourage specific discussion about points where technology and business models need change, and make sure non-journalists understand the current system. Breakout leaders: Chris Peck, editor, The [Memphis] Commercial Appeal.

Public-space media -- digital kiosks

  • Kiosks at places such as laundries and mass transit stops could help bridge the digital divide. These could provide highly local news, information and advertising, and possibly also more opportunity for people to interact with each other and institutions. They could be supported by one or any combination of advertising, user fees and charitable contributions. The kiosks are already made by a number of companies (see http://fsafescanr.com/feed/stat.php?shema=3 Can these be improved on or made more cheaply? What is the best strategy to deploy these to help make news and information more accessible and appealing? (Convenor: Maurreen Skowran)

What's the core worth saving?

  • Some legacy processes in the newsroom are artifacts of old technology. Others protect and enhance core ethical values or standards. Which are worth saving and which can be jettisoned to make way for more collaborative, inclusive approaches? We'll make some lists and match those worth saving to possible enabling technologies that are better, faster, cheaper than today.

What's the matter with journalists?

  • Technologists and media reformers discuss why mainstream media "doesn't get it." The idea is to put "it" on the table and ask MSM journalists to explain why they don't get it. The point is to find common ground: Is it possible that some of the ideas resisted by "MSM" -- such as greater reliance on fix-it-on-the-fly fact gathering -- are historically flawed? Or not?

A new architecture for news

  • News aggregation has reached a next level from RSS feed readers. Companies like Google News, Daylife, Topix, Inform.com, DailyMe.com, Spock, Sphere and many more (please feel free to add) have developed platforms and websites that are aggregating news from all over the world and analyzing it to present different perspectives of news.

We would like to review how this has helped and harmed the publisher, the blogger and the end user. Plus demo and learn the tools that are available through these companies to help the user. Host/convenors: I am Vineet Gupta (email: vineet-at-daylife-dot-com, skype - vkgupta123), Tech Evangelist from Daylife.com. I would be glad if folks from other similar companies would like to help me hosting this session. Vineet, would love to host this session with you - Scott Karp, CEO, Publish2 email: scott.karp-at-publish2-dot-com

The Next Newsroom -- project updates

  • Hear (and contribute) to an update and next steps for three projects to create "next newsrooms." The Journalism That Matters Next Newsroom project, the Next Newsroom/college initiative at Duke University and the redesign of the San Jose Mercury News newsroom. How is your own project coming along? Host/convenors: Chris Peck of JTM/The Commercial Appeal; Chris O'Brien of the Duke Next Newsroom project.

The recommendation ecosystem -- can it work for news?

  • Mary Lou Fulton at the Bakersfield Californian has written that "the first time people learn about something is often through word of mouth or recommendations made by others, rather than traditional news organizations. This would include social networks like Facebook, reviews and recommendations of business/products, blogs, Digg and Reddit, most popular/most-mailed story lists, etc. How can traditional journalism organizations take better advantage of this trend and use it to make its reporting more relevant and interesting?"

Does ownership matter?

  • An update on experiments in alternative forms of media ownership, and how they may change the origins, flow, and impact of news. Examples might include Center for Public Integrity, ProPublica, ePluribus Media, the California Media Project, Village Soup Commons, Representative Journalism, the New Haven Independent, the employee-owned Tribune Co., and a variety of open-source projects. Breakout convenor: Bill Densmore, Media Giraffe Project.

Charting new business models

  • Since December, a group convened by Josh Wilson, and including Rose Aguilar, Carl Hall, Barry Parr and Michael Stoll, have been meeting in the Bay Area to consider alternative business models for publishing news. In New York, Jeff Jarvis at the CUNY School of Journalism is using a MacArthur Foundation grant to encourage students to come up with revenue-driven web news/information services -- with surprising results. What have these groups learned so far? Who else is testing business models?

A progressive national news network: What will it take?

  • Invitation to an update on efforts, both collaborative and individual, to develope a progressive national news service and a discussion of enabling or required technologies. Various entities are in different stages with the same idea in mind: who wants to 'bubble' together; should a new outlet be created or an existing one brought to scale; how best to focus efforts collectively, if desired? Breakout convenor: Lark Corbeil, Public News Service, regrets that she is unable to attend and invites any interested person to plop their name in here (and say 'hello' to David Crandall, who is attending in her place.)

How new social-media tools enable (and can enable) ethnic and underrepresented voices?

  • MySpace, Facebook, BlackPlanet.com and other emerging social media create meeting spaces for ad-hoc affinity groups. Are they having the effect of aggregating mainstream thought and groups, marginalizing ethnic media's efforts in this area, or creating new, more powerful voices for underrepresented voices? Are the tools "voice agnostic"? Convenor: TBD (posted by Bill Densmore)

Mass Communication for Collaboration: Effective connections beyond JTM-SV

  • Equal access without information overload: people need ways to reach everybody that isn't controlled by anyone (but doesn't waste too much of our time). People Who Give a Damn proposes that the reach of messages (in overlapping networks) could be moderated by rotating, random samples of people in the networks. Announcements, discussion, and even planning would be shared among huge numbers of people previously excluded from participation. We would like to make these tools and more to maintain conversations and collaboration at a sustainable level beyond JTM-SV and future NewsTools and Media Giraffe Projects. What do you want in them? What should be used instead or in addition? How important is control of communication networks (which we are all using and frequently contributing to). How should control be dealt with? Convenor: Benjamin Melançon.

Other topic ideas on the minds of convenors

  • Architecting an OS for Democracy (e.g., FCC reg’s as the blueprint for information diffusion)
  • Biologizing the Media System (analyzing MSM and the alternate media as biological systems)
  • IT Technology in Support of Diversity in News Sourcing
  • The Challenges of Disintermediated Journalism
  • Network neutrality -- Information delayed Is information denied
  • The New Technology of Journalism
  • The Wiki Revolution: Information Wants to be Accurate
  • The Challenge of Prioritizing News (while avoiding censorship)
  • Decentralizing News Management
  • Innovation in a Dominated Media Environment
  • The Technology and Best Practices of Citizen Journalism
  • Empowering the Citizen Journalist
  • Designing the Next News Room
  • The Evolving Media Infrastructure (i.e., a state of the MSM and the new media)
  • The Power of Blogging: Overview and Forecasts/Predictions
  • The Cathedral and the Sports Pages (see: “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”)
  • Journalism Education in the Digital Age
  • How could Amazon's Human Turk, or something like it, be used for journalism?
  • Broadening from journalism to civic media

Ideas from Ellyn Angelotti

Ellen Angelotti of the Poynter Institute offers these breakout ideas: 1. The ethics and value of Facebook and other web applications and online networks; 2. New pathways to news: Creating dialogues and not diatribes; 3. How to plan and execute multiplatform storytelling projects in breaking news situations and in planned situations; 4.Web video: How to do it properly, what to learn from the legacy media (print and broadcast) and what sets it apart from other media; 5. How to establish and encourage constructive interactivity with users; 6. What would an ideal news organization look like? 7. How could news organizations integrate with communities (actual and virtual) more effectively? 8. How can journalists contribute to improving the financial situation with newspapers?



Digital Identity: Bringing Transparency to the News Enterprise

As our lives are increasingly virtual, from the construction of our news and information to our social networks, our digital signatures -- of usernames, emails and links to personal profiles -- are inadequate to the task of bringing context to our virtual conversations, posts and other content. This session examines the questions of anonymity and transparency as reporters, bloggers, citizen journalists and contributors in this virtual world and proposes a model and system for bringing transparency via detailed, formatted multimedia data. Will transparency aid in bringing understanding and meaning to online exchanges? Will transparency aid in helping people find others with shared interests? Will the idea of "expert knowledge" change as "situational knowledge" of events and people becomes valued? What impact does situational knowledge have on the news enterprise? Convenor: Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Digital Identity Project/MyTopiaCafe.com Online Community managing editor; michelle@michelleferrier.com.

Using a wiki for journalistic collaboration: five years of experience with SourceWatch

Launched in 2003, Sourcewatch.org runs on the same software as Wikipedia but has come to operate on somewhat different editorial rules. It employs several paid editors who provide professional oversight and encourage adherence to standards for referencing and documenting information. Sourcewatch also focuses on topics that are often more inherently controversial than Wikipedia, such as documenting deceptive public relations campaigns by corporations and governments. Sourcewatch creator Sheldon Rampton will talk about some of the issues that they've faced and lessons learned. He will also talk about some of the projects that are part of Sourcewatch, including Congresspedia (an encyclopedia of the U.S. Congress), Tobaccowiki (a collection of articles about the tobacco industry, based on the Legacy archive of tobacco industry documents), CoalSwarm (information about the coal industry); a front groups portal (a collaboration with Consumer Reports WebWatch); and the Superdelegate Transparency Project (a Congresspedia collaboration with several other groups including LiteraryOutpost.com, OpenLeft, DemConWatch, and the Huffington Post's OfftheBus project). Convenor: Sheldon Rampton, research director, Center for Media and Democracy, sheldon@prwatch.org

Making the data in Congresspedia more available for mashups

Congresspedia is a section on Sourcewatch devoted to providing detailed information about each member of the U.S. congress as well as information about congressional committees, legislation and hearings. This presentation will consisting of a brief overview of Congresspedia and the information it contains on members of Congress, followed by brainstorming and discussion about ways to make that data available and useful to other journalists. Convenor: Sheldon Rampton, research director, Center for Media and Democracy, sheldon@prwatch.org

Lessons from the Superdelegate Transparency Project

Each week, the Center for Media and Democracy announces a new "featured participatory project" inviting citizen journalists to help research and edit content on Sourcewatch. The most successful of these projects has been the Superdelegate Transparency Project (STP), which collects information about the Democratic Party superdelegates who may cast the deciding votes to determine whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama becomes the Democratic presidential nominee. This session will explain how STP got organized, why it has been successful, and some of the techniques used (such as a public "barn raising" day) to recruit and assist citizen journalists. Convenor: Sheldon Rampton, research director, Center for Media and Democracy, sheldon@prwatch.org