Social & Entrepreneurial

The paths to tomorrow’s journalism

JD Lasica April 23, 2010

Flickr photo “relaxation, the maldivian way” by notsogoodphotography (Creative Commons)
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Presentation at

Today’s hashtag

Creative Commons photo on Flickr by Prakhar

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What we’ll cover today
2 simple propositions The new new news ecosystem
• Social media overview & cultural norms • Rise of social media & impact on journalism

Social journalism Entrepreneurial journalism
• Innovation imperatives (take a page from Facebook) • New skills, new media forms

Geolocation: New forms of visual storytelling Examples: Tomorrow’s news today Fearless predictions, closing thoughts

Proposition 1
We need trustworthy news
“Information is as vital to the healthy functioning of communities as clean air, safe streets, good schools and public health.”

Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy,
October 2009

Proposition 2
News is undergoing its biggest, messiest change – ever
Everything about news is changing: The way it’s produced The way it’s distributed The way we consume it Who’s a trusted news provider Conventions of journalism (NPR as advocate for Haiti relief efforts) What “news” means

The new new news?

A contrast in fortunes

Daily U.S. newspaper circulation fell 10.62 percent in the most recent 6-month period (April-September 2009). USA Today circulation fell 17.5%, New York Times fell 7.3%, San Francisco Chronicle fell 25.8%. (Chron: newsroom of 575 in 2000, 160 today.) Average daily paid circulation fell to 30.39 million in Sept. 2009 from a high of 63.3 million in 1984.

Social media’s ecosystem
Almost 1 million blog posts per day; over 346 million people globally read blogs 6 of top 10 websites in US are social sites (YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, MySpace, Blogger, Craigslist) Twitter: 108 million registered users; 300,000 new users a day; 180 million unique visitors a month Facebook: 400 million members Flickr: 35 million people have posted & tagged 3 billion-plus photos Wikipedia: 10 million users have contributed YouTube: 1 billion-plus videos served per day Whenever someone opens a computer, 60% of time it’s for social reasons

Cultural norms of social media
It’s not about the technology, it’s about connecting people. Premium on sharing Transparency Conversation expected Mistrust of traditional authority figures & marketers Instead: trust in peers, people like ourselves — even strangers Trust is easily gained and easily lost. Credit/attribution given Collaboration

Big Media’s suicide pact
New spate of newspapers’ social media policies:
Do not engage without permission Do not be open Do not be personal

Creative Commons photo by Bombardier on Flickr

Read the policies for yourself at:

Old Media values Social Media values
News as finished product Lecture, authoritative Passive consumers One to many Corporate/autocratic Closed Exclusive Centralized Elite professionals Institutional voice Heavily filtered News as a process/service Conversation, participation Empowered users Many to many Democratic, collaborative, messy Transparent Shared Distributed Grassroots, peer-focused Personal voice Unfiltered/lightly filtered

News as a social experience

To a great extent, people’s experience of news, especially on the internet, is becoming a shared social experience. ... Getting news is often an important social act. • 75% of online news consumers say they get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites • 51% of social networking site (e.g. Facebook) users who are also online news consumers say that on a typical day they get news items from people they follow. • 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commentary about it, or dissemination of news via social media.
“Understanding the Participatory News Consumer,” Report by Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, March 1, 2010

Social journalism
Elements of social media applied to journalism:
Blogging ... Twitter ... Facebook ... Comments ... Widgets ... RSS ... Video sharing ... Photo sharing ... User-created content ... Ratings ... User reviews ... Tagging ... Social bookmarks ... Live streaming & chat ... Presentation sharing ... Geolocation services ... Forums ... Community membership ... Social news sharing sites ... Wikis ... Texting ... Meetups ... Shared calendars

Entrepreneurial journalism
Entrepreneur (än-trə-prə-ˈnər) A person engaged in the art or science of innovation and risk-taking for profit in business

Creative Commons photo by kyz on Flickr

Entrepreneurial approach
Build things that are useful & have value Study marketplace, define goals, write business plan Embrace risk Launch pilot projects Measure results Make tough choices Iterate! Iterate! Iterate!
Creative Commons photo by parl on Flickr

Make mistakes, forgive yourself, move on

Cost of innovation
40 30 20 10 0 2002 2006 2010

Investment cost (in millions)

Technorati: estimated $36 million investment over 8 years Dabble: $1.7 million over 4 years Wellness Mobile: essentially zero startup costs. Test it out, offer shares to programmers, if it flies, you take funding.

Innovation = Iterating
Facebook in 2005

“The idea is launch early and iterate. Early on, I didn’t just start Facebook as a company. It was a project that I wanted to exist. It’s amazing how much stuff we messed up.” – Mark Zuckerberg, 10/09

New skills for journalists
Storyteller, yes, but also:
Conversation facilitator & stimulator Multimedia guru Evangelist Curator Data gatherer Geek! Metrics nerd Entrepreneur/strategist
Photograph by Tristram Kenton © The Really Useful Group Ltd.

If I were launching a news site
It would contain these elements:

Geo-targeted news Conversation Data-driven tools Open APIs Rewards & incentives for participation More attention to real-time Web Lots of real-world meet-ups Explore multiple verticals

Community brain
Tagging the real world
The emerging mobile marketplace will require evergreen content from trusted sources of vetted information. But you can enlist schools, partners and readers to help create a digital community encyclopedia.
Wikitude AR Travel Guide for Android G1

The Web is a database
But it needs curating!
Local news pubs’ competitive advantage: Data! The new newsrooms need more coders Value in building structured evergreen data — need a city guides 2.0 Journalists can bring meaning to info-jungle Enlist local citizens to maintain the living database

The power of open APIs
Give the public access to public records
Open APIs = enlist community to hack & contextualize content has licensed its mapping technology to news publications & waged a battle to open up public records in Ky. News organizations are logical hub of community data around schools, hospitals, prisons & more.

YourMapper founder-CEO Michael Schnuerle

Don’t know APIs? Go to:

New tools for new needs
Resources to explore Open source “Wikipedia of maps”; community builds own using GPS traces and donated satellite imagery. Creative Commons Google Earth has an API News orgs can layer photos over Google Maps

Online visualization tools

The Decline: The Geography of a Recession by LaToya Egwuekwe

Check-ins at SXSWi

Who does tomorrow’s news?
Traditional media
Professional journalists at newspapers, TV & radio stations

Reimagined media
Citizen publishers Alternative & community news publications Twitterers, Facebookers Bloggers Podcasters Advocacy groups Nonprofits Corporations

Early trailblazers
Seattle Post-Intelligencer closed print publication in March 2009 with 170 staffers. Relaunched as online-only site with 40 staffers, 20 in editorial.

Early trailblazers
Initiative from Chicago Tribune. Aggregates over 300 local blogs. 10,000 registered users and 3.2 million page views per month (Oct. 2009).

Early trailblazers
Nonprofit, nonpartisan public media organization Produced by veterans of Texas Monthly & Texas Weekly Twitter & blog widgets Not just a publication: They put on public events, sponsor & record a conversation series w/ elected officials, hold an ideas festival, sponsor a college tour

Early trailblazers
ProPublica, nonprofit investigative journalism site, winner of 2010 Pulitzer Prize, nonprofit news site launched in 2007. Operating loss in 2009: $125,000 on expenses of $1.2 million; $675 in revenues from donations, ads, sponsors, nonprofit news site, crowd-funded journalism, for-profit network of sites for communities under 50,000 people, claims to operate at 4.5% of cost of newspapers. Huffington Post creating a nonprofit investigative journalism arm. Jim Brady launching a DC news site

Early trailblazers

Community builder
here’s an amazing difference between building an audience and building a community. An audience will watch you fall on a sword. A community will fall on a sword for you.

— Chris Brogan

Author,“Trust Agents”

Trends: Niche news + community

A Food Coma

Spouse Buzz

The Stupid Cancer Show

Predictions: Old media
500 of the 1,408 daily U.S. newspapers will suspend print publication in next five years. Most will go out of business. Cause of death: failure of imagination. The impact will be highly disruptive of communities in short term, but new emergent journalism enterprises will sprout up. We’ll see isolated success stories of pay walls, nonprofit news models, crowdsourcing. But these, as well as micropayments & government subsidies (& blogging!), won’t sustain in-depth/community/investigative journalism.

The iSavior? Um, no
“I’m a genius, but I’m not a miracle worker. ... I wasn’t put on earth to save The New York Times. I was put on earth to restore a sense of childlike wonder to people’s empty, pathetic lives.” — Fake Steve Jobs

Predictions: New media
Emerging from ashes of the news industry will be a vibrant news ecosystem with smaller players that are more social & entrepreneurial. Blogging, crowdsourcing & nonprofit news sites cannot take place of newspapers by themselves — but they will be part of news ecosystem. We'll see hyperlocal news aggregators take slice of local advertising pie: EveryBlock,, Fwix, But: They don’t have resources to go deep. Legacy news publications should own hyperlocal markets — but largely won’t.

Prediction: Trust disruption
Reimagined media: When the rules are up for grabs:
Investigative journalism with a catch: Mark Cuban & TechCrunch: April Fools a day early Kontera embeds text ads as part of your blog posts

March 31, 2010

Closing thoughts
Young people don’t read newspapers, but they’re enormous consumers & sharers of news. The Mobile Generation: Hire them. Observe them. Listen to them. If every business is a media business, do what no one else can easily replicate in your community or region. To be relevant in the new age, create a startup culture, practice social journalism— and innovate! Leverage the community. Retool focus to serve as guide, curator, data jockey & aggregator as well as content creator. Bring journalistic standards & values into this new space. Help communities tell stories in authentic ways.

Thank you! Let’s talk!
JD Lasica Founder, SNCR senior fellow email: Twitter: @jdlasica Presentation at

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