Hardly Strictly Young
Hardly Strictly Young brought together more than 30 movers and shakers in the independent and entrepreneurial media world. These individuals were chosen because they aren't necessarily at the "centers of power" but rather are building their own centers of power or influence. They are change agents. The two day event centered around the Knight Foundation's commission on the information needs of communities. Our charge: through a roundtable discussion and various breakouts this group will make concrete suggestions, from our unique perspective, for next steps the Foundation and others can do take to strengthen the information ecosystem of communities.
Chris Amico is a journalist and web developer in Washington, DC, currently working on NPR's Impact of Government project.
Since joining The Poynter Institute in 2007, Ellyn Angelotti has helped Poynter explore the journalistic values and the legal challenges related to new technologies, especially social media. She also has helped create and develop Poynter's use of interactive teaching tools like online chats and podcasts.
Angelotti regularly teaches journalists how to effectively use interactive tools as storytelling vehicles, and how using these tools changes the media landscape. In the summer of 2009 she traveled to South Africa to teach and research mobile storytelling. As a judge for national multimedia journalism contests, including the National Press Photographers Association Awards and E.W. Scripps National Journalism Awards, she has studied and taught about best practices in innovative storytelling.
Her current work is focused on the intersection of journalism, technology and the law. She is attending law school part-time at Stetson University College of Law.
Before coming to Poynter, Angelotti directed award-winning, nontraditional multimedia sports content at the Naples Daily News in Florida. There she created and produced two interactive vodcasts, "PrepZone" and "Blades Playbook," which won the Newspaper Association of America's Digital Edge Award for Most Innovative Multimedia Storytelling. While attending the University of Kansas, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish and journalism, she worked at the Lawrence Journal-World as multimedia journalist. There she helped launch two award-winning websites and weekly print products, "Game" and "The Lansing Current."
Daniel Bachhuber is Digital Media Manager at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and fascinated by structured data, open source projects, and technology's increasing role in the production of journalism. In his free time, Daniel is involved in a few open source projects including Edit Flow, a WordPress plugin to bring more of a news organization's editorial workflow within the content management system. A native Oregonian, Daniel enjoys skiing, climbing, backpacking, travel and long distance running.
Jason is co-founder and Executive Director of The UpTake, a video-based media organization that merges social media strategy and online technology, tools and access to engage and empower citizen journalists.
With a degree in Fine Arts, Jason spent 15 years as a professional sculptor. As an innovator and entrepreneur, Jason recognized the power of online video and social networking, leading The UpTake to advanced the frontier of citizen-fueled news gathering. The UpTake achieved national notoriety through its coverage of the 2008 political conventions and the Minnesota U.S. Senate recount and trial, earning one of Top 10 websites of 2008 by the Center for Public Integrity.
Ben Berkowitz is founder and CEO of SeeClickFix. Prior to SeeClickFix he was founder and CEO of CT WEB NET, a web and graphic design firm created in 2003. CT WEB NET representative contracts include local governments and schools. He is also the founder and head of a New Haven business improvement district the Upper State Street Association. Ben has been covered and quoted in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Hartford Courant, and the Christian Science Monitor about his work with Gov20. The has been a featured speaker at conferences including SXSW, WeMedia, Gov 20 Expo, Gov20LA, and many others.
Brian Boyer leads the news applications team at the Chicago Tribune. Prior to studying journalism at Northwestern University, he advised startups and ran software teams in Chicago. Between j-school and the Trib, he made some fun stuff whilst interning at ProPublica.
Cody Brown is the founder of the journalism startup kommons.com. Before Kommons, Cody studied filmmaking at NYU and spent most of his time there starting/developing the campus blog NYU Local. He lives in Brooklyn and is generally obsessed with media and journalism.
P. Kim Bui
P. Kim Bui manages KPCC's ongoing commitment to social media and engagement on and off the Web. A digital journalist, she has worked for major newspapers as well as several news start-ups. She is originally from Des Moines, Iowa and graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State University.
A self-professed nerd, she co-founded #wjchat, a weekly Twitter chat for web journalists. When not in front of a computer, she's exploring L.A.'s vast food network and is a perpetual yoga student.
David Cohn is a Reynolds Fellow at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute where he is researching and testing community funded reporting. As a technology reporter turned new media scientist, Cohn is the founder of Spot.us, a website pioneer in community-funded reporting. Cohn has written for numerous publications including Wired and the New York Times. He is a board member of NewsTrust and has participated in journalism experiments like NewAssignment.Net. He holds a master's in new media from Columbia University and a bachelor's from the University of California, Berkeley.
Jake Dobkin is the publisher and founder of the Gothamist network of local sites. He studied English Literature at Columbia University, and got an MBA from NYU. Before founding Gothamist, Jake was an information architect at Oven Digital and IBM, and taught chemistry at Stuyvesant High School. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, 9-month old son, and cat, and enjoys taking pictures, which he publishes at Bluejake.com.
Turahn Dorsey joined the Barr Foundation staff as Evaluation Director in March 2009. Principally, Mr. Dorsey is a program evaluator and researcher whose 15+ years of experience with Moore and Associates in Southfield, MI and Abt Associates in Cambridge, MA span a number of public policy, community change and public health related issues. The evaluation, research and technical assistance projects in which Mr. Dorsey has participated cover a number of quantitative and qualitative technical areas including outcome and impact analyses, Theory of Change-based program evaluation (including the identification of best practices) and technical assistance efforts aimed at enhancing program implementation, impact, and replication. While at Abt Associates, Mr. Dorsey led or co-led several evaluations of foundation-funded community and systems change efforts including: the evaluations of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Community Voices and Men's Health initiatives; the Interim Evaluation of the Ventures Program for the Northwest Area Foundation; and the development of a Theory of Change for the Lumina Foundation's Making Opportunity Affordable initiative. Mr. Dorsey's current responsibilities include developing and implementing data monitoring and evaluation frameworks to track the progress of Barr Foundation education and climate change investments. In addition to serving as the foundation’s Evaluation Director, a portion of Mr. Dorsey's time is dedicated to grantmaking in out-of-school time.
Megan Garber is an assistant editor at Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab, a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age. She was formerly a staff writer at the Columbia Journalism Review, where she reported on education, politics, culture, and news innovation for the magazine and its website, CJR.org. Megan has discussed press performance on NPR, the BBC, al-Jazeera English, MSNBC, and other outlets, and has served as an adjunct professor of media criticism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Originally from Carmel, California, she holds an honors B.A. in English from Princeton University and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia, where she graduated with the school's Criticism Award. Her essay "Common Knowledge," on the political implications of a fragmented media world, won a 2010 Mirror Award for excellence in media coverage.
Mónica Guzmán is director of editorial outreach at Intersect, a Seattle-based start-up. From January 2007 to May 2010, she was a reporter at seattlepi.com, where she ran the award-winning Big Blog and drew a community of readers online and through weekly meetups. Exploring ways to engage readers made Moni into an online news evangelist; since 2007 she's spoken regularly about new tools in online conversation. She's been named one of the Top 100 Women in Seattle Tech, one of the Poynter Institute's 35 social media influencers and one of the Society of Professional Journalists' "Quill" magazine's 20 journalists to follow on Twitter.
Robert Hernandez, an assistant professor of professional practice and a new Annenberg faculty member, worked for The Seattle Times from 2002 until 2009, where he was promoted from news producer to senior news producer to director of development. He helped shape and execute the vision and strategy for the Web site and company, most recently leading a team of engineers and designers in research and development focusing on creating innovative tools and applications for both staff and readers, among many other duties. His previous experience includes: Web designer and consultant for El Salvador's largest daily newspaper site, La Prensa Gráfica, Web producer for The San Francisco Chronicle and online editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He is the co-creator of #wjchat, a weekly Web journalism chat held through Twitter. He has served on the board of Blue Earth Alliance, non-profit focused on photo documentary. He has also served as the Online At-Large Officer on the board of directors for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Amanda Hickman, Program Director, joined DocumentCloud from Gotham Gazette where, as the Director of Technology, she managed development of a series of games about public policy issues, built a pretty cool database of candidates for local office and shared an ONA award for General Excellence with her colleagues there. Prior to joining Gotham Gazette, she worked as a Circuit Rider, providing technology assistance and training to low-income grassroots groups in the U.S. working on anti-poverty issues and as a consultant to foundations looking for ways to support their grantees' use of technology in organizing work. She taught an undergraduate course at NYU's Gallatin School on using the Internet as an organizing tool. An active local organizer, she's got her hands in a few community composting and gardening projects, too. You can find her at email@example.com.
Alexander B. Howard
Alexander B. Howard is the Government 2.0 Correspondent for O'Reilly Media, where he reports on technology, open government and online civics. Before joining O'Reilly, Howard was the associate editor of SearchCompliance.com at TechTarget. His work there focused on how regulations affect IT operations, including issues of data protection, privacy, security and enterprise IT strategy. Before moving the focus of his coverage to cybersecurity, online privacy and compliance, Howard was the associate editor of WhatIs.com, an online IT encyclopedia. In that role, he researched and wrote about nearly every aspect of enterprise IT, including the impact of social software on business and the media. In his spare time, he practiced writing about himself in the third person, with mixed results. Howard's work experience also includes working in operations for an e-business consultancy, as a knowledge broker for a management consulting firm, as a middle school teacher, as a master home builder and, very briefly, as a garden manager at an outstanding Italian restaurant. Howard graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology.
Vadim Lavrusik is the Community Manager at Mashable. He's also an Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, teaching "Social Media Skills for Journalists." He also founded the Community Managers Meetup.
Most recently, he worked on social media at The New York Times and received a Master's of Science degree in Digital Media from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he co-founded and produced NYC 3.0, a website that included an in-depth documentary on New York City's tech startup community. Prior to Columbia, he studied at the University of Minnesota where he received a B.A. in journalism, summa cum laude, in 2009. While at the University of Minnesota, he worked as a reporter, managing editor and editor-in-chief for four years at The Minnesota Daily. His work has been published in Fast Company, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, the Star Tribune, Poynter.org, and more. He now focuses much of his writing and reporting on the changing media landscape, specifically to how the social web is affecting storytelling.
My current hypothesis re business models is that news organizations need to both nurture and hop into the cycle of local-to-local Internet-enabled commerce. I think marketing/promotion has to shift away from display advertising. I believe news agencies might have to create an agency model of helping local businesses. Therefore I am interested in talking to start-ups or anyone else who can offer some perspective, especially from the vantage point of advertisers or small businesses. I also am interested in infrastructure, accountability mechanisms and data.
I was a reporter at The New York Times for nine years, where I covered technology, Washington, crime, poverty and culture. I spent the last two of those years reporting and experimenting on City Room, the Times' New York City metro blog.
I wrote a book called The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, on how Chinese food is all-American and hit #25 on the New York Times best seller list. As a result, I have a talk on TED.com on General Tso’s chicken, survived an interview by Stephen Colbert, made dumplings on Martha Stewart and for the Today Show during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Related to that, I am a producer on the documentary, The Search for General Tso, with Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis of Wicked Delicate films. We have received a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities.
Scott Lewis is the CEO of voiceofsandiego.org, an innovative nonprofit news source providing local quality-of-life investigative journalism and community engagement. VOSD uses its website and works with a growing portfolio of media partners online, in broadcast and in print to engage San Diegans with news and discussions about their quality of life and government. Scott runs the organization's engagement team, its revenue operations and also maintains a blog on local politics. He's a father and graduate of the University of Utah. You can follow him @vosdscott on Twitter.
Seth C. Lewis is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities). His research focuses on the innovation of journalism as a professional field. His 2010 dissertation examined the Knight Foundation's efforts to shape the innovation and ethics of journalism in the digital age. Dr. Lewis' work has been published in peer-reviewed journals including Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism, Journalism Studies, Journalism Practice, and International Journal of Internet Science, among others. With Maxwell McCombs (et al.), he co-edited the 2010 book "The Future of News: An Agenda of Perspectives," and he blogs for the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. Before joining the faculty at Minnesota, Dr. Lewis received a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, and previously was assistant sports editor at The Miami Herald and a Fulbright Scholar to Spain.
Greg Linch is a web producer at The Washington Post, where we he primarily works with health, science and environment coverage. He previously worked at Publish2, a journalism-technology startup. While in college at the University of Miami, Greg served as editor of The Miami Hurricane and then worked with CoPress, a college media startup. Greg organizes the Hacks/Hackers DC meetup group generally aspires to be a better coder.
Amanda Michel is the Director of Engagement at ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative newsroom located in Manhattan. ProPublica's crowdsourcing projects were recently honored with a Knight-Batten Special Distinction Award. Michel also directed Huffington Post’s OffTheBus, a ground-breaking citizen journalism site. Michel got her start working on campaigns. She directed Howard Dean's youth organizing effort Generation Dean and belonged to John Kerry's Internet team. With colleagues she founded the New Organizing Institute in Washington, DC. Michel has been featured in the NewYork Times, and regularly presents at conferences.
A Bronx, NY native, André Natta originally thought his life would be spent behind a drafting table, leading him to study architectural history and architecture at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. He received his Certification in Main Street™ Management from the National Trust Main Street Center in 2008 and worked in the field of economic development in both Savannah and Birmingham, AL.
André started The Terminal, a community news site about Birmingham, AL, in March 2007 (having maintained his personal blog, Dre's Ramblings, since 2005). The site made Birmingham Magazine's 2007 Hot List, has placed in The Birmingham News' annual reader's poll for best local website each of the last three years and was recently included in Michele's List of more than 100 promising community news sites while she was a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.
He currently writes a monthly column on social media and how it's impacting the future of Birmingham, The Digital City, for B-Metro Magazine and maintains Urban Conversations, a blog that looks at urban revitalization & communication.
Jessica is a radio and multimedia journalist with the Common Language Project whose work has been broadcast by NPR, KUOW, The World and the World Vision Report. She was a 2006 Knight New Media Fellow at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and her radio series Life on the Duwamish received the 2008 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for News Series. Since 2009 she has taught Entrepreneurial Journalism at the University of Washington; in 2011 the Common Language Project and the UW are launching the Seattle Digital Literacy Initiative, a citywide effort to bring information, media and news literacy into high school classrooms.
Lauren Rabaino is a web, graphic and product designer whose heart lies in news. Her work has included product management for journalism startup Publish2, UI design for community-funded journalism site Spot.us, and designer for Jay Rosen's media criticism blog, PressThink. She graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a bachelor's in journalism in 2009 where she had served as online and multimedia editor for her college newspaper, The Mustang Daily. Before that, she helped found an online-only newspaper at her high school, which won national awards. Her mission is to lead radically innovative journalism design experiments that help reinvent the finding, creation and distribution of news.
Tasneem Raja is the project lead for news apps on the Technology Team of The Bay Citizen. She is a recent graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a pioneer student in the school's multimedia journalism program. She served as a web producer for Oakland North (oaklandnorth.net), one of three local news sites the journalism school launched in 2008 to bring innovative local coverage to under-served communities in the Bay Area. She specializes in interactive design, data visualization, and audio production, and received her school's Wired Magazine Award for Excellence in a New Media Project in 2010. Before crossing over to the "dark side," Tasneem was a staff news reporter and copyeditor at the Chicago Reader.
Ryan Sholin, Product Manager, Local Sites, at Gannett Digital, is completely immersed in online news development, design, and innovation. Since his start in the industry, Ryan has made it his mission to help professional journalists get the tools, skills, and inspiration they need to inform their communities on any platform. A former investigative reporter for the Oakland Tribune, online editor for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, trainer and strategist at GateHouse Media, and Director of News Innovation at Publish2, Ryan is also a co-founder of WiredJournalists.com and a Knight News Challenge winner for ReportingOn.com.
Daniel Sinker is an Assistant Professor at Columbia College Chicago, where he has a focus in entrepreneurial journalism and the mobile web. He is the creator of the Chicago Mayoral Scorecard and the mobile storytelling project CellStories and was the founder of the influential underground culture magazine Punk Planet and the editor of its line of books, Punk Planet Books. He is also a graphic designer whose design for Joe Meno's "Hairstyles of the Damned" was named one of the 25 "new classic" book covers of the last 25 years by Entertainment Weekly. He was a 2007-08 John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, where he studied the impact of mobile technologies on traditional publishing models, and recieved his BFA in video production and new media from the School of the Art Institute in 1996.
Craig Silverman is managing editor of PBS MediaShift and digital journalism director of OpenFile.ca, a new collaborative local news organization. He's also the founder and editor of RegretTheError.com, a website that reports on media errors and accuracy, and the author of Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech, which won the Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism. Craig writes weekly columns for Columbia Journalism Review and the Toronto Star, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Globe And Mail, The Gazette (Montreal), and Harvard's Nieman Reports, among other publications. Craig serves as vice president the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is an advisor to MediaBugs.org.
Sarah is a print and multimedia journalist whose work has been published by the Seattle Times, Global Post, the Seattle Weekly and KUOW. She won the 2008 Unity Award for Reporting of Economics, and has won several Independent Press Association Awards, including the 2006 award for Best Feature article, Dismantling a Dangerous Past. In addition to reporting, Sarah heads up the CLP's educational programming.
Conor White-Sullivan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Localocracy, an online town common for civic engagement.
Localocracy provides news organizations with software to increase community engagement and improve their bottom line. Localocracy platforms give users a better way to understand complex issues and what is happening in their community, connect with their neighbors and local leaders, and make their voices heard.
Currently Localocracy is working with three news organizations, including the Boston Globe, and is active in 5 Massachusetts towns. The company has won funding through the UMass Amherst Innovation Challenge, the Poynter Promise Prize in Entrepreneurial Journalism, and the Harvard College Innovation Challenge and Elevator Pitch competition. The company recently received an investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Before founding Localocracy, Conor served as the Western Massachusetts Field coordinator on a winning statewide ballot campaign, as assistant canvass director in a voter registration office in Virginia, and as Collegiate Markets director for an international beverage company. He studied Anthropology at UMass Amherst, and In the spare time he doesn't have, Conor plays Bass Guitar, rides a Kawasaki KLR 650, and studies foreign languages. He is nearly fluent in German, and can have elementary school level conversations in French and Arabic.
Will Sullivan is a 2010-2011 Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Fellow at the University of Missouri, where he is studying mobile and tablet news content reporting, publishing and user experience motivators. Before that, he was the Interactive Director of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Sullivan's work has won more than a dozen professional awards from organizations including The Society for News Design, National Press Photographer Association, Editor & Publisher and The Online News Association and his website, Journerdism.com, was recognized by Harvard University's Nieman Journalism Lab as one of the 10 best "future-of-journalism" blogs. He's a board member for the Online News Association, Society for News Design foundation, a Multimedia Committee member of the National Press Photographer Association and co-creator and co-director of the NPPA's Multimedia Immersion. Sullivan also regularly consults and teaches emerging technology at conferences, workshops and for organizations across the country.
Matt Thompson is an Editorial Product Manager at National Public Radio, where he's helping to coordinate the development of 12 topic-focused local news sites in conjunction with NPR member stations. Before moving to DC, Matt served as the interim Online Community Manager for the Knight Foundation. In May 2009, he completed a Donald W. Reynolds Fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute; his explorations into creating context-centric news websites have been widely cited in discussions about online journalism's future. He came to RJI from his position as deputy Web editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where he led the creation of the Edgie-award-winning, socially networked arts-and-entertainment website vita.mn. While managing the development, community and production of vita.mn, he also managed technology and interactivity-related projects for StarTribune.com, from creating an internal taxonomy to transforming the online opinion section into a blog.
Before the Star Tribune, Matt was an online reporter/producer for the Fresno Bee, winning first- and third-place Best of the West awards in 2004 for his multimedia projects. At the Bee, he led an internal advisory committee exploring the paper's strategies for acquiring new audiences. He worked at the Poynter Institute from 2003-04 as the Naughton Fellow for Online Reporting and Writing. While at Poynter, he and his colleague Robin Sloan produced the Flash movie EPIC 2014, a picture of the media past set 10 years in the future, which was written up in the New York Times, Financial Times, USA Today, the Guardian, on MSNBC, and elsewhere. In 2010, Matt completes a four-year term on Poynter's National Advisory Board.
Matt graduated with honors in English from Harvard College in 2002, after writing his senior thesis on the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Outside of work, he blogs at Snarkmarket.com, has completed one Twin Cities Marathon, and is itching to get ready for another.
Christopher Wink is the co-founder of publishing consultancy firm Technically Media and its technology news site Technically Philly. Wink lives in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, loves hoagies and is an alumnus of Temple University.
Suzanne Yada is the web producer for the Center for Investigative Reporting. She has worked as a social media strategist for the San Francisco Public Press, an independent nonprofit news organization in San Francisco. She also has been a web producer at the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. She was previously a copy editor for the Visalia Times-Delta, a daily newspaper in the heart of Central California. Over the course of her career, she has been involved in at least nine media-related startups. Suzanne is a recent journalism graduate from San Jose State University.
April 17th: Quinton's Bar and Deli
Bus picks up guests at Hampton Inn and Suites
Opening Networking Dinner: Quinton's
Bus departs to Hampton Inn and Suites
April 18th: Reynolds Journalism Institute
Bus departs from Hampton Inn to RJI
Journalism or "media" education at various levels
How can we increase the sources of news providers through...
Increase public engagement and participation in providing news
Ensure that every local community has at least one high-quality online hub
April 19th: Reynolds Journalism Institute
bus departs to RJI
First 8 report
Second 8 report
This is a summary of the event that took place at the Reynolds Journalism Institute on April 17th-19th made possible by the Knight Foundation and RJI.
To begin I want to express thanks for the opportunity to organize this event. As I explained to the 30+ participants, this event was in part to be juxtaposed with the Aspen Institute Roundtable that took place in August of 2010. At that event were heavy hitters such as Dean Singleton, the president of PBS, CPB and NPR along with the Executive Editor of the Washington Post and the lead council for News Corp. It was a fantastic event but throughout it all, I played a bit of an outlier. The best example was that several times a recommended action basically boiled down to “let's lobby congress.” This is indeed a good action to take, but it wouldn't have been the first thought that crossed my mind.
At the RJI event we discussed four recommendations from the Knight Commission Report with the goal to come up with ideas for implementation. In other words how to go from the idea phase to execution.
For this event I gathered other folks who, I believe, would have been outliers at the Aspen Institute Roundtable. Individuals who are not necessarily at the centers of power, but who are creating their own centers of power. Individuals who have experience working on the ground building or managing projects and endeavors that are being built from the ground up.
Broad analysis and themes
There were a few themes that surfaced through the 1.5 days. One that was underlying throughout it all, as Michael pointed out and later was echoed by several participants, was a general lack of reliance on journalism/news institutions. There wasn't any 'bashing' of institutions but the majority of solutions proposed didn't rely on existing infrastructure to accomplish goals. Many of the ideas imagined building something from scratch or using the momentum of understood cultural norms rather than the weight of known brands/institutions.
As one of the participants put it “There are small solutions to each recommendation that just needed to be done and not talked about.”
On the opposite side of things, there was a re-occuring theme about a reliance on community institutions ranging from barber shops to libraries. A general theme was to “work with anchor institutions [in a community] bring the journalism to the people, don't bring the people to the journalism.”
In addition to this, media literacy was discussed throughout the day, specifically the means by which individuals could get quality out of the quantity. It's worth noting that it became a hang-up for almost every discussion I observed at some point.
At the end of the event several participants referred to it as a 'idea hackathon' which I take to be a fancy word for 'brainstorm' which is what it was intended to be.
Without a doubt the individual attendees were engaged. The best proof of this was, funny enough, that there were almost no tweets on the first day. Instead of keeping their noses buried in computers waiting for an opportunity to tweet, as is the case at many events, the participants spent the entire day in rigorous conversations.
The second day was a nice transition and allowed for a healthy backchannel conversation during the presentations.
“Tuesday morning was quite redeeming. I came away inspired, and I feel like we nailed down a number of solid recommendations. Microphones and the seating arrangement made me feel like a capable baller.” [Daniel Bachhuber]
Another obvious win was for the Reynolds Journalism Institute. I believe this was a good opportunity for RJI to dip its toes into a different community and also exposed a new community to RJI, an organization they might otherwise not be aware of.
At the event we discussed four recommendations from the Knight Commission Report with the goal to come up with ideas for implementation. In other words how to go from the idea to execution phase.
1. While the majority of the conversations were constructive one group spent a fair amount of time expressing an initial frustration with the current model of student journalism. In their own words: “What you are seeing is large grants to Universities to create innovation and community news initiatives lead by people who, frankly, have not been at the cusp of innovation in the newsroom or startups for a long time.”
Their final recommendation took the form of a “Report for America” program. A year-long intensive fellowship for post-undergraduate students of various academic disciplines. It would have a matching process between students and startups. “Fund people that want [to be part of the process] with those that are [already part of the process]. Small organizations could make a list of what they need and be matched with students that can meet those needs.” Their theme: Instead of funding for innovation, “fund people that want with people that are.”
2. The second group focused on the middle school and high school level. They decided they were not likely to create new “media literacy” classes and it would be a failed attempt to try. But media literacy is probably already a part of many teacher's current curriculum. Thus, create a two-year program to network teachers already integrating media literacy into their curriculum and highlight the best work being done. A network would include an online community for these educators to connect, exchange ideas, best practices, create a free central online resource that showcases the best of their work using video, teaching guides and other resources. Help these teachers become a community. They'll be relatively atomized. But through a network we hope to create case studies, lessons plans and plug-and-play tools (handouts, games, excercises) that could be used in various classes (history, social studies, etc). Offer incentives for teachers to take part and get recognized for their work.
Note 1: An important side note: This is not DARE for media literacy. It should not be a scare tactic, which is often the tone that media literacy takes.
Note 2: It would seem to follow that the innovating teachers will, generally, also come from the resource-rich areas. What works for those innovators might not work for a teacher in another community because the second group of teachers and administrators will be less familiar with the technology, as will the students and parents there.
3. Adopt a Wikipedia Page (instead of adopting a class hamster or highway) - Have high school classrooms adopt a relevant Wikipedia page and update/monitor them for an academic year.
4. Talking specifically about journalism schools: Remove the academic Journal part of journalism. Replacing the form - same amount of time and care of scholarship - but scholarship as engagement with community - as opposed to publishing into a journal.
5. The last group created a potential curriculum that they would like to see in action at the middle school / high school level. It would include both consumption and production, as the two are inextricably linked in any media fluency program (they specifically preferred the word 'fluency' over 'literacy' because it articulates the connection between consumption and production).
A five part media fluency program:
- Put tools in the students hands (use tools they already are familiar with).
- Students use a community center (library) to find and research a problem.
- Work to turn information into a presentable form, perhaps working with media professionals/producers (media community).
- Work with business/design/graduate student community to brand, design and publish material.
- Teachers/schools reflect on the whole process and how it was received.
New Sources of News
An overarching discussion for this topic was how to get quality out of the quantity of news sources. Part of the discussion may have been framed too much by the reporters' frame of mind. As one participant put it “We're looking for tools to make sense of existing networks so reporters can more easily find better sources, and ask the right questions.”
1. An X-prize for reporting based off the Netflix Challenge: “If the Netflix challenge is any indicator of the way these challenges can motivate…. collaboration naturally happens among the top people who care the most about the project. An on the fly community of practice emerges with the right push.”
Caveats: This won't work for every question - you need a clear metric of success so you know when to reward the person/group who ultimately pulls it off. You also have issues with marketing and rewarding collaboration.
2. A related “challenge” note: DARPA Red Balloon Challenge. DARPA had a competition where they scattered red balloons around the US and told people to find them. A team from MIT won the competition in 9 hours - it freaked everyone out. Many other industries aside form the news industry deal with the challenge of finding reliable sources really fast - the military is a big one and we can adopt techniques they've spent a lot of money developing over to journalism.
3. Source analytics dashboard (this is from the view of a reporter or a coop of reporters).
To develop a rich social analytics tool to provide newsrooms an efficient way of examining a source's online connections and content. How is this different from PIN? PIN's info is restricted to what people offer about themselves. We're combining that with social network analytics and a database of sources where reporters can log their interactions with them. Think Rapportive.com but for reporters.
4. Coverage LeaderBoard -- aka The Void Finder
Create a means for municipalities to see the demand for the data that they should be releasing. Note: Model Local Open Government Initiative.
Add on: Interoperability. Communities shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel.
5. Awesome Foundation for News: The Awesome Foundation is a collective of people who pay $100 a month to be a member. Once a month the collective (50 people for example) take proposals on how the $5,000 should be spent (a city art project, buying books for the library, etc). This would be a model like this for news. Fifty people in a city pay in $100 a month and at the end of every month they'd get proposals for investigations that they would vote on and commission. In many respects it is a 'reverse spot.us' - in that the proposal doesn't come to the entire public - it comes to a group of people that have already committed money to fund something.
6. Create a CPR for breaking news. An information protocol. We are taught from a young age if we're on fire to “stop, drop and roll.” Is there a media protocol? Can one be created? Related: Can we anticipate the social graph of a disaster in the same way Facebook anticipates the social graph of planning an event?
Left over: Create an authenticated, secure openleaks model for specific verticals. A more concrete suggestion building on this is to....go Beyond theWiki
Diversity in the news
Some of our recommendations really center around the collaboration between existing news outlets. The underlying theme: Find existing community information providers that are already thriving, but need support for capacity building in order to expand their reach and apply a generous layer of News Challenge technology. This mimics the underlying theme behind one of the media education recommendations: Don't fund for innovation, fund people who will be matched to work with where there is need.
1. Breakout idea: The CAT Signal (Community Action Team) was probably the break out idea of the day. The group behind it didn't want their session to end, they were having a lot of fun exploring the idea. They even registered a domain and created a Twitter. C.A.T. - Community Action Network. “Within a narrow test-case neighborhood or town, create a networked coalition of civic groups that will respond to a one-time-only request — a C.A.T. signal — granted to all residents. The scarcity and direct action will increase buy-in and solving problems will grow involvement. Yes, there is a website. Peep the slides here. Our rather smilingly self-indulgent trumpeting brought quite a bit of interest in the idea.” Notes from the C.A.T. Team: A test case would actually be pretty simple. Pick a community organization (a rotary club, YMCA, etc) and give each member of that group a C.A.T. Signal. Each member can only use it once. When one member uses it, the entire group agrees to come together to help.
2. Discussion on the Information Toolkit: Many folks found the Information Tool Kit to be a fantastic development. Their first immediate suggestion is to develop a software solution to use the assessment guide instead of just a PDF Download. There was discussion of adding a layer of questions to the toolkit to reveal other ways the community might be undeserved (food access, health, transportation) and find trends. This would enable finding more communities based on trends that have undeserved media needs without necessarily having them go through the info tool kit assessment. Another way to quickly identify communities without going through the PDF assessment could be scrapping wiki pages to identify areas that meet a specific population size but lack a number of media resources.
Finally: Another addition would be to make an individual version of this on top of the community assessment ie: a Nielsen rating system for everything that goes in my eyes ears.
Online Community Hub
This recommendation may have proven to be the toughest. It incorporated bits of every conversation earlier in the day (education, sources of news, diversity) and took them one step further. There was also some contention around the wording of this recommendation “to ensure that every community has at least one online hub.” Finally - it was generally agreed that the heavy lifting would be in rural and smaller communities.
1. Identifying communities information needs: A new index: Something similar to the Standard and Poor's Index. A community information index which would be shared and spread. Just as many communities tout their home price index or uses an index to cite and tackle problems, these ratings would have validity and meaning. If a city is lagging it will face accountability. If it's succeeding it could be hailed as a place where companies want to move (if there is an 'early adopter' index then Silicon Valley might rank the highest - hence it is a center for technology companies).
The information index could turn into a real market value and could be pushed forward by a for-profit company or professional operation. A polling operating might want to offer this index as a service. It would require a lot of work and there is disagreement if a company would be interested or if it would pay off. But political, real estate and other operations would appreciate a community information index.
2. The Webabago: Using partner anchor institutions for promotions, credibility and location, launch an initiative of rurally-focused mobile internet-connected computer centers that offer (1) computer access, (2) media literacy and (3) media production training for an online hub that starts with a community calendar and moves toward news coverage. This is an expansion of rural book-mobiles and university extension services, as recommended by the Knight Commission. The foundational assumption here is that we cannot develop online hubs without in-person hubs first. The name “Webabago” hints at a mobile unit that is already a food cart, ice cream truck, etc. Some unit that already brings a community together.
3. Local government publishing dashboard: Create a low-cost or no-cost open source toolkit of services that can be provided to local governments to create workflow and publish relevant data, information and local news. There are concerns around transparency, but this is a start.
4. Like Davis Wiki, local wikis can help smaller communities develop their own institutional memory and essential hubs. Chris Amico’s ideas of what an online hub is.
If an event like this were to take place again some or all of these weaknesses would need to be addressed.
1. The first was time constraints. This was a jam packed 1.5 days. The first full day was dedicated to discussion. The second half-day spent reporting back. A little more time would have allowed for a third step and perhaps less of a stressed schedule on the first day.
Potential third steps could have been
(a. Swapping of project leads. Passing recommendations from one group to another in order to scrutinize the ideas from a different perspective.
(b. Further prototyping. Some of the groups did get to this last stage, providing slides, concrete examples, etc. One group even went so far as to register a URL: http://www.catsignal.org/
2. Breadth: I purposefully kept the conversation very broad. I thought it important not to try and influence the direction of recommendations or the conversation, but to allow people and individuals to direct their own recommendations organically from their own conversations. As one participant put it “you can't make a cocktail with a full bar.”
Other constraints that the participants suggested would be to have the conversation around implementations that would require little to no money (under $150,000 for example).
In the end, I don't think the broad scope was so much a weakness as a path that the discussion was based upon. One could organize events like this around all kinds of constraints and that would fundamentally change the course of the event. With that in mind, this is also another way to understand the weakness of time already mentioned above ie: we only have time to pick one constraint.
3. Intimacy with Knight Commission Report.
While links to the Knight Commission Report was sent out to all the participants their level of intimacy with the report was still limited. Perhaps with more time and pressure they would have been more comfortable with the material. Despite the instructions to start with the recommendations and think forward about implementation much of the conversation still circled around the recommendations. As one attendee said “ ....yet discussions always seemed to reference the difficulties involved with helping people find and judge quality news and information, along with significant challenges such as the lack of Internet access in rural and isolated communities.”
In other words, a lot of time was spent acknowledging the challenges that have already been expressed in the recommendations. This is important and perhaps required to put forth any implementation, but future gatherings should find ways to jump directly into the conversation getting past discussing the merit of the recommendation itself.
4. It was a diverse group in every way but two. There was an intentional bias for a younger crowd. The majority of folks came from a 'journalism' background. We could have benefited from getting more people who are approaching these issues from outside the framework of a 'journalist.' Alas - about 5 of the individuals I had originally invited who would have served that purpose were unable to attend. Still, I think we can look at this as a positive if future events like this take place. From an anthropological perspective it would be interesting to have a similar event with various other groups ie: majority technologists, majority teachers, etc and see if language, bias' change as a result.
I consider the event a success on several fronts. It was a fun and stimulating event for the individuals and it also created some tangible ideas and thoughts, many of them wouldn't be hard to implement or prototyped in a relatively short time-frame. While there were some weaknesses (noted above) it was far more valuable than many other events I've been to. As somebody that has attended roundtables at Aspen and Washington D.C. (J-lab) and elsewhere and more panel-esque discussions than I care to count, I do believe that having a focus or goal to create tangible recommendations or ideas ready to implement is of value both to the Knight Foundation and also the individuals and culture of innovation that Knight has been a leader in fostering.
Other Media of the Event
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