“A perfect storm for the demise of journalism ... or for the rebirth of the journalist,” EContent, June 5, 2009. The news about news has been focused on failing newspapers, for which many blaming the Internet, Google, the unions, journalists, owners, and even consumers. While there are many issues at play, and as many soapboxes to stand on, I recently attended a symposium that provided evidence that many professionals are not waiting around for a government bailout, but working hard and thinking creatively to construct a strategy for journalism’s future success.

The symposium, “From Gatekeeper to Information Valet: Work Plans for Sustaining Journalism,” held May 27 in Washington DC, featured a range of informed speakers that included professors, journalists, authors, and entrepreneurs. The Information Valet Project, a Reynolds Fellows program, was the brainchild of Bill Densmore. Densmore, a journalist and entrepreneur, was an early pioneer in micropayments.

Densmore set the stage for the day addressing the “perfect storm” impacting the sustainability of journalism: the demise of newspapers, the inability of internet advertising to support news content, and the general economic downturn.

Not surprisingly, given the crisis facing the print news media, the symposium’s theme “How do we save journalism?” was frequently confused with “How do we save newspapers?” This was accompanied by a somewhat unproductive reduction of the problem to: “Google is an evil usurper of journalists’ work” and “Internet users should pay for content.” After listening to the first few speakers, I announced via Twitter (#infovalet) that I might be the lone content capitalist at the symposium. I was quickly thumped by tweets from three entrepreneurs in attendance, two of which were journalists. While we were outnumbered, it was good to know we would be contributing to the mix.

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