ExplainThis.org partners with podcast on The Nation

Got a burning question that a simple web search can’t answer? Ask it at Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen's ExplainThis.org, where “journalists are standing by.” Studio 20’s Tim Stenovec is working with Rosen on the project.

Explainthis.org recently partnered with The Breakdown, the explainer podcast with Chris Hayes of the Nation. More details here.

Explaining The Local: East Village, NYU’s Collaboration with the New York Times

Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen describes more details in a PressThink post:

Look: Not everyone is going to be thrilled that NYU is doing this with the New York Times. We’ll have to take those problems on, not as classroom abstractions but civil transactions with the people who live and work here. You know what? It’s going to be messy and hard, which is to say real.

Rosen outlines 16 points about the site and its goals, including  Studio 20’s instrumental role:

6. Whereas CUNY took over the production of an existing site, LEV is more of a start-up. The Local: East Village doesn’t exist yet. The Journalism faculty and students at NYU are to give form to it, and we are presently hard at work on that, assisted by the editors and blogging team at the New York Times.

7. Deciding how to launch the site, how it should operate, and how to make it effective in the East Village community are ideal tasks for students in NYU’s Studio 20 program, which I direct, assisted by my colleague, Jason Samuels, formerly of ABCNews.com. The students in Studio 20 are immersed in the innovation puzzle in journalism; they learn by doing projects with media partners who are struggling with the same puzzle. We’ve devoted their spring seminar—a class called Studio 2, which I teach—to this collaboration with the New York Times. They are working on every aspect of the project: from the design of the site to relationships with the community, from work flows to topic pages, data apps to user participation, social media to beat reporting.

The project also includes collaboration with Visiting Scholar Dave Winer, NYU’s business school and computer science department, as well as with fwix.com:

11. There are other parties collaborating in this project. Dave Winer, a visiting scholar at NYU and a technical adviser to Studio 20, has already contributed east-village.org, a river of news-style feed that will help us curate the blogosphere and wider web. He will advise us on other parts of the project, as well. Avi Fein and Natalie Marchant, students from the Stern School of Business Consulting Corps, are working with Studio 20 on the sustainability puzzle. I’ve asked them to figure out what the most likely sources of revenue are and recommend a strategy we can follow over the next year or two. Anuj Bajaj, Erik Froese and SungHyun Bang, students in Professor Evan Korth’s Information Technology Projects class in the computer science program at NYU are collaborating with Studio 20 on an open source assignment desk system that we can use for LEV. (This is one of the holy grails of citizen journalism.) Darian Shirazi, founder and head geek at fwix.com, is building us an aggregation tool based on his system for isolating new web content about particular places.

Read the full post for more.

During this week’s episode of Rebooting the News, Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen and Visiting Scholar Dave Winer touched on a concept for an online, open source assignment desk system. From the show notes:

"We moved on to a fascinating story: AOL Tries To Seed SXSW With Coverage Of 2,000 Bands, via its new assignment desk system. (Link.) We both agreed that it was a brilliant experiment and highly relevant to the rebooted system of news, in part because it asks, “what would 100 percent coverage look like?” and actually tries to create it. It’s almost like the beginning of a wikipedia system for the indy music scene.


Dave: “It doesn’t stop when the event is over; in a way this becomes a coral reef for a rebooted music news system.” Jay: Studio 20 wants to create such a tool, so we’re looking for models and prototypes that might get us there. The key part is that when you select an assignment you get a set of instructions for doing a good piece, in addition to a task to complete.”

In a guest post at Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, Seth Lewis asks for input to the question “what is journalism school for?" Lewis cites Studio 20 as a 21st century approach and quotes Visiting Scholar Dave Winer:

What should the 21st century journalism school look like? Would it have a more DIY focus to prep students for freelance careers? Take a more project orientation, as in Jay Rosen’s Studio 20? Focus on teaching the right mix of analog and digital skills, as Ryan Sholin suggests? Or try to become part of the wider academic curriculum — a sort of “journalism school for all” general-education requirement, as Dave Winer recommends?

In a guest post at Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, Seth Lewis asks for input to the question “what is journalism school for?" Lewis cites Studio 20 as a 21st century approach and quotes Visiting Scholar Dave Winer:

What should the 21st century journalism school look like? Would it have a more DIY focus to prep students for freelance careers? Take a more project orientation, as in Jay Rosen’s Studio 20? Focus on teaching the right mix of analog and digital skills, as Ryan Sholin suggests? Or try to become part of the wider academic curriculum — a sort of “journalism school for all” general-education requirement, as Dave Winer recommends?

Software developer and blogging, RSS and podcasting co-founder Dave Winer will be named a Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute for 2010. He will assist the Studio 20 program as Technical Adviser. During the academic year Dave will also curate a speakers series at NYU on the intersection of technology and journalism.
Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen writes on the Rebooting the News site:
"For me and the students of Studio 20 this is a major “get,” as the bookers for TV shows like to say. Our focus is on innovation in the news system and adapting journalism to the web. As a software developer and one of the proto-bloggers, Dave Winer has been an innovator from the moment his career began in the 1980s. As a co-founder of blogging, RSS and podcasting he is directly responsible for some of the disruptions that are shifting power to the users. This is a change that journalists need to recognize and adapt to without complaint.”
Read more about the appointment and Winer’s reasons for making the move.

Software developer and blogging, RSS and podcasting co-founder Dave Winer will be named a Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute for 2010. He will assist the Studio 20 program as Technical Adviser. During the academic year Dave will also curate a speakers series at NYU on the intersection of technology and journalism.

Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen writes on the Rebooting the News site:

"For me and the students of Studio 20 this is a major “get,” as the bookers for TV shows like to say. Our focus is on innovation in the news system and adapting journalism to the web. As a software developer and one of the proto-bloggers, Dave Winer has been an innovator from the moment his career began in the 1980s. As a co-founder of blogging, RSS and podcasting he is directly responsible for some of the disruptions that are shifting power to the users. This is a change that journalists need to recognize and adapt to without complaint.”

Read more about the appointment and Winer’s reasons for making the move.

Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen proposes ExplainThis.org as a way for journalists to answer the public’s questions. From the Poynter Institute:
Rosen has developed an idea that could make journalism better by allowing more people to participate in the process: ExplainThis.ExplainThis has two parts. One is an open system through which anyone can ask and answer questions and vote on them. The second part involves “journalists standing by.” Journalists would monitor questions, looking for ones that meet three conditions:
 Many people are asking the same thing. 
 The question can’t be answered well via search. 
 Answering the question would require the work of journalism: investigation and explanation. 
Read more here.

Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen proposes ExplainThis.org as a way for journalists to answer the public’s questions. From the Poynter Institute:

Rosen has developed an idea that could make journalism better by allowing more people to participate in the process: ExplainThis.

ExplainThis has two parts. One is an open system through which anyone can ask and answer questions and vote on them. The second part involves “journalists standing by.” Journalists would monitor questions, looking for ones that meet three conditions:

  • Many people are asking the same thing.
  • The question can’t be answered well via search.
  • Answering the question would require the work of journalism: investigation and explanation.

Read more here.

Rosen: “Journalism” and “the media” are not synonymous

Jay Rosen

Studio 20 Director Jay Rosen writes about the differences in MIT’s Technology Review.

"Journalism, the practice, is not "the media," although for many years most of the journalism that got done was done inside the media industry. Now that industry is in trouble, but not because people no longer want to be informed or entertained (they still do). Rather, the social pattern that sustained the media industry has been disrupted by technology (see Briefing)”

Read more here.

Mediabistro on Rosen and Shirky

Studio 20 Professor Jay Rosen interviewed Clay Shirky as part of the “Primary Sources” series last night. Mediabistro.com wrote about the event below.

NYU Media Professors Discuss Future Of Media By Looking Back

By Drew Grant on Dec 04, 2009 09:30 AM

Last night, New York University hosted a panel in its continuing “Primary Sources” series focusing on journalism, featuring professors and media commenters Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky.

While the topic may have officially been “New Media’s Present and Future,” the conversation quickly moved into the past: specifically delving into five years ago, which Shirky said most people mistakenly refer to as the Golden Era of Journalism — before the Internet came and took all the money away. Five years ago, Shirky stated, newspapers were losing readership left and right, but their revenue was booming. Ironically, now most newspapers actually have more readers due to their Web sites, but the money has dried up.

While most news orgs would have liked to take that conversation in the direction of how to get that money back, Shirky and Rosen were more interested in how the Internet plays into the public’s perception of the mainstream media.

Rosen, known for his work in the movement of public journalism, sited the longitudinal study that showed that in 1976 over 75 percent of Americans had “a great deal of trust” in the press, whereas 30 years later, only 4.5 percent did. Yet journalists on the whole, Rosen asserted, have only become more educated and better informed. So where did this mistrust of the media come from?

Well, from the small groups of Internet watchdogs, which perform the important function of “after-the-fact-checking,” as the professors put it. Starting (debatably) as early as Dan Rather's MemoGate in 2004, and up to the recent Balloon Boy incident, the Internet has offered up information that contradicts what is being fed to us by our televisions or newspapers. Compare this to 30 years ago, when we may have had a pick of only several outlets of information in which to get our news, which stood as indisputable facts of the world at the time.

So is the Internet bad for all news organizations, undermining the public’s trust in once-reputable sources? Not necessarily, said Shirky, though news publications’ latest act of going to the FTC to regulate the information disseminated on the Web is absolutely the wrong direction. It is the act of forwarding a piece of journalism these days, not the publication of the piece itself, that gets these publishers an audience, he said. And by placing a pay wall or premium on your brand or story — as Rupert Murdoch and several other publishers are trying to do — you’re directly hindering that story’s ability to gain readership.

Then again, if we’re going by the adage of The Golden Age of Journalism, an audience isn’t as important as a profit.

jayrosen
jayrosen:

Do you read The Economist? Even better, do you love reading The Economist or find it extremely useful to you in some way? Want to help us out, and maybe even improve the magazine’s presence on the web?
The Studio 20 program at NYU, which us focused on innovation in web journalism, is looking for subscribers to The Economist magazine, or frequent users of economist.com, who are willing to answer some user-centric questions for us.
Students and faculty in Studio 20 have been working with the editors on future directions for economist.com, including the problem of how to chart a distinct path online for a rather distinct magazine. We are going to be making recommendations but we need to test some of our ideas, and expand our thinking; that’s where you come in.
Are you up for it? To participate in our study, you need to be available for a 40-minute web chat (text only, via gmail, skype, aol or yahoo IM) at some point from Dec. 4 to Dec. 9, 2009.  You will be talking one-on-one with a Studio 20 student who is currently engaged in our project with The Economist.
The results will be shaped into a Q and A (lightly edited for grammar and readability only) and made available to the editors of The Economist as they think about and re-shape their online presence in the months ahead. In other words, you will become part of our report.  For that purpose we will need your name, age and  certain other information about you, but we will not publish anything on the web without your permission.
If you are willing to participate and have 40 minutes to spare, leave a comment here with a way to contact you, or email us with your contact information (send it to pressthink@yahoo.com ) You can also send a direct message to Prof. Jay Rosen on Twitter, if you follow him there.  Thanks!

jayrosen:

Do you read The Economist? Even better, do you love reading The Economist or find it extremely useful to you in some way? Want to help us out, and maybe even improve the magazine’s presence on the web?


The Studio 20 program at NYU, which us focused on innovation in web journalism, is looking for subscribers to The Economist magazine, or frequent users of economist.com, who are willing to answer some user-centric questions for us.


Students and faculty in Studio 20 have been working with the editors on future directions for economist.com, including the problem of how to chart a distinct path online for a rather distinct magazine. We are going to be making recommendations but we need to test some of our ideas, and expand our thinking; that’s where you come in.


Are you up for it? To participate in our study, you need to be available for a 40-minute web chat (text only, via gmail, skype, aol or yahoo IM) at some point from Dec. 4 to Dec. 9, 2009.  You will be talking one-on-one with a Studio 20 student who is currently engaged in our project with The Economist.


The results will be shaped into a Q and A (lightly edited for grammar and readability only) and made available to the editors of The Economist as they think about and re-shape their online presence in the months ahead. In other words, you will become part of our report.  For that purpose we will need your name, age and  certain other information about you, but we will not publish anything on the web without your permission.


If you are willing to participate and have 40 minutes to spare, leave a comment here with a way to contact you, or email us with your contact information (send it to pressthink@yahoo.com ) You can also send a direct message to Prof. Jay Rosen on Twitter, if you follow him there.  Thanks!

jayrosen

Sources of subsidy in the production of news: a list

Studio 20 Professor Jay Rosen spoke at a conference at Yale this weekend. The experience inspired this post:

jayrosen:

I was asked to speak recently at a conference organized by Yale University with the title “Journalism & The New Media Ecology: Who Will Pay The Messenger?”  This irritated me. The question should have been “who will subsidize news production?” because news production has always been subsidized by someone or something.  Very rarely have users paid directly the costs of editorial production.

So here’s my list of known sources of subsidy, with examples to illustrate each. What I have left out please put in the comments and I will edit the list.  If you have a link that provides an example, that would help a lot.

1. Government can subsidize, through general tax revenues. As in some Scandanavian countries.

2. Rate-payers can subsidize, a solution that has to be enforced by government. As with the BBC license fee, or proposals to require Internet Service Providers to support journalism through a surcharge.

3. Political interests can subsidize the press, as with the party press in 19th century America or labor’s willingness to fund some new media operations today.

4. Philanthropy is a possible source of subsidy, as with the rolling grants that Paul Bass secures for the New Haven Independent, or the donations that flowed to the start-up, Texas Tribune.

5. Rich egoists will sometimes subsidize, as with Mort Zuckerman’s ownership of The Atlantic magazine from 1980 to 1999.

6. Advertisers are of course the most common subsidizers, though as Clay Shirky says, Best Buy never signed up to fund the Baghdad bureau. They just didn’t have a choice.

7. Entertainment and the revenues it produces can subsidize news production, as with the early days of network television, when the news divisions lost money. Good old fashioned sensationalism also fits under this heading.

8. Soft news can subsidize the hard, as with travel and food sections that pay for other kinds of coverage. (A point suggested by Richard Gingras of Salon.)

9. Unrelated businesses are sometimes a sources of subsidy, as with the Washington Post Company’s ownership of the highly profitable Stanley Kaplan.

10. Then there’s logically-related businesses, as with Bloomberg L.P. and Thomson Reuters, both of which make big money providing data to businesses and then subsidize news production (mostly business news) from that. (More on selling data.)  See also USA Today’s Buzz Bureau. Another example would be selling web services—setting up a website or social media tools—to the people formerly known as the advertisers. (One example, in pdf form.)

11. Clever spin-offs can subsidize editorial costs, as with Techdirt’s Insight Community, basically a focus group business featuring the highly informed community that gathers at Techdirt. At the level of the stand alone journalist, this becomes: “Some people who blog make money because they blog,” as against revenue from the blog itself.

12. Educational institutions—especially university-based journalism schools—can be the source of subsidy, as with the partnership between Northeastern University’s journalism program and the Boston Globe.

13. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are increasingly likely to sponsor or support journalistic work, often in partnership with traditional news producers.

14. High earning spouses sometimes subsidize stand alone journalists with start-up sites.

15. Live performances featuring editorial talent, as with magazine conferences or this event: “KCRW & NPR Present ‘Planet Money — Live!’ at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.”

16. E-commerce, also known as selling stuff, sometimes works, as with Techdirt’s “Connect with Fans and give them a reason to buy” program.

17. The most passionate users (those who can afford it) will sometimes subsidize the production of news available to all through small donations, as with public radio’s membership model in the U.S., or Firedoglake at the Libby Trial, or the community-funding platform spot.us and its garbage patch story.

18. Premium memberships: those who pay get extra benefits,  and thus help to subsidize the rest. An example of an extra benefit: fruitful interaction with highly informed journalists.

Subsidy ideas in development:

A possible source of subsidy is what’s known as “lead generation.” It means providing good information to businesses on who is exceptionally likely to buy. I’m still trying to determine if this is actually subsidizing news production anywhere yet.

Scott Karp of publish2.com writes of the possibility of high value advertising that would represent a conceptual break with the whole display ad regime. If such a system existed it would be added to my list as a different type of subsidy. The idea is to create advertising of such quality and informational value to users that it enhances the value of high-end editorial production.

Currently in development are voluntary micropayment systems, which would represent a new type of subsidy. No one knows if they’ll be successful, of course. Two to watch are Emanci-pay (“a choosing system… readers, listeners and viewers can easily choose to pay whatever they like, whenever they like, for the media goods they use”) and Kachingle (“crowdfunding sites you love.”)

Also in the concept phase is Lyn Headley’s restrospective funding model for news. “A retrospective news medium is an organization that bestows a continuing stream of awards, each with a monetary component, on the producers of the best pieces of journalism it finds, shortly after each piece is published.”

Notes: I do not talk about subscriptions or paywalls in this post, because that is not a subsidy system: that’s direct payment for editorial goods.

Kevin Coates in the comments says: “The BBC has a profit-making arm which among other things, commercializes rate-payer funded content in other geographic markets. Profits go back to the BBC to supplement the rate-payer funds. Similar to your #7, but revenue does not just come from entertainment (e.g, if you view the BBC news website in the US, you see ads; in the UK, you don’t.)

Worth mentioning is the newsroom-as-cafe concept, which appears to be succeeding in the Czech Republic. Here, the idea is to take a business that already works—the bustling cafe—and turn it into a news gathering operation.