Monday, January 18, 2010

The Future Of Journalism: The J-Ecosystem.

EVERY "SAVE JOURNALISM" event is dominated by legacy media, people who are financially bound to the way things were. There are generally start-up folks as well, and they are concerned about sustaining themselves. Educators worry about getting funding. Rarely are there folks from the communities served, although that is not the point of this post.

The point is that we all have a vested interest in the future of journalism. Collaboration isn't the long-term solution, I don't believe, but it may be a bridge that buys time until the next funding model for journalism is fully developed.

The problem is that everyone asks, "What's in it for me?"

Well, we're in this together, folks. So how about this: let's create a journalism ecosystem.

I believe there is merit in my previous post regarding the Domino Effect. In that system, the smaller, niche operations get funding from non-profits and the larger outlets get on-the-ground manpower. The system could build and eventually become self-sustaining, I think, and maybe even profitable.

But that is just one-third of what we need.

First, I think we need to develop back-end services for start-up companies to ensure their longevity. There needs to be guidance for advertising, marketing, design and basic business skills. Non-profits may be the way these places begin but that is not a long-term business plan. These places need to learn to stand on their own.

Second, I think there needs to be journalism education. Niche operations as well as the communities served need media literacy training. This starts with the basics of reporting, multimedia information and legal training. But it would also move into ethics, the First Amendment, and criticism of the media. We all need to better understand the role of the journalist so that we can do a better job as journalists, and so we can demand better products as consumers.

The Domino Effect is the final part of the triangle - a website aggregating/ curating the community and niche outlet news, plus a quarterly investigative project. That creates a product as well as a process for important, relevant news to flow.

Everything would feed into each other. It would be holistic, in theory.

I imagine an umbrella group would need to be formed in order to make this happen, maybe something along the lines of the non-profit University City District or the original idea of the Associated Press. The various stakeholders would be involved in some way, though the editorial content should remain independent.

This all begins with collaboration. We can eliminate the massive redundancies in the media and use our resources more wisely. We can build something amazing and incredibly useful to the city.


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