Archive for April, 2009

Paywalls or links?

29 April 2009

I’m traveling this week back in the Big Apple, raising money (let’s hope) plus seeing how we do at the National Magazine Awards (Mother Jones is up for 3 of ’em) so posting will be light. But wanted to point to an interesting guest post over at Reflections of  Newsosaur by  Bill Grueskin, formerly at and now at the Columbia J-School. He does a quick comparison of Journalism Online, the Brill/Hindery/Crovitz project to “generate much-needed revenue by building a platform for subscription services” (i.e., put the paywall back in place) and Publish 2, run by Scott Karp and Josh Korr, which is a platform designed to make it easy for journalists to do “link journalism” (viz Jeff Jarvis’ mantra: do what you do best and link to the rest…).

I think Grueskin is onto something – even with all the throatclearing that anyone writing about journalism+business models has to do these days (“we don’t know, we’re not sure, who can say, we’ll see how it turns out etc etc) – the key difference I think being that Publish 2 has a built-in incentive for journalists to connect not just with other journalists working on related items, but also with their community of interest. As someone thinking about non profits and journalism, anytime anything encourages us folks to open out to our community, that’s worth sitting up and paying attention to.

Grueskin reports that Publish 2 is kicking off a project to:

. . . track spending in the federal stimulus plan, marrying reporters’ content and citizens’ tips, but – and this is important – always through the lenses of journalists. He calls this as a “new ecosystem” of news, that is, a way of understanding that the Web empowers sharing of information, and that journalists have a special role to play in identifying worthy content and evaluating the quality and credibility of others’ reporting.

Combine this open-to-the-network approach to journalism and, say,’ open source crowdfunding code, and maybe there’s something there to test out.

Anyone giving this a try?

Shameless imitation of Kevin Drum

24 April 2009

I love cats. Had one named Max for years, a manx that traveled with me to Germany and back, perhaps the only bilingual manx ever.

But this has been a hound household for years, thanks to Rachelle’s lifelong love affair with dogs.

And the latest, Mingus The Super Dog, is one of the best (they’ve all been the best, really).

So in shameless imitation of my fellow MoJo-ler Kevin Drum (who’s hopefully well on his way to the Georgia coast for what should be a really interesting confab about ramping up indy media reporting on economics) here’s my very first Friday Dog-Blogging post!

This is a little bit of a cheat, because it’s Mingus the Super Dog as a youth. Couldn’t pass it up. Way too cute, right?

Have a great weekend.Mingus the super dog as a youth

Yes, Virginia, there is a future for journalism…

23 April 2009

This is pretty cool: Mark Glaser at Mediashift has pulled together info (plus one more in the comments) about the growing number of (non profit) local watchdog news sites around the country. Worth a look.

Harry Reid needs to look Bobbi and Richard Peterson in the eye and explain himself

23 April 2009

Greg Mitchell on reporter Kevin Elston’s investigation into the death of Alyssa Peterson:

Alyssa Peterson was one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq. A cover-up, naturally, followed. CM8ShowAd(“Middle”);

Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native, served with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a “non-hostile weapons discharge.”

“Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed.”

“She said that she did not know how to be two people; she … could not be one person in the cage and another outside the wire.”

Peterson was then assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards. . . “But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle,” the documents disclose.

Spc. Peterson’s mother, Bobbi Peterson, reached at her home in northern Arizona, said that neither she nor her husband Richard had received any official documents that contained information outlined in Elston’s report.

Harry Reid needs to look the Petersons in the eye and explain why he’s against an independent commission to investigate torture.

This week’s “trifecta”?

22 April 2009

Ken Doctor has this to say about Attributor’s “Fair Share Syndication” rev share model for publishers. Combine it with Brill/Crovitz/Hindery’s Journalism Online, he sez, and publishers have a way to capture some of the advertising revenue from Google and Yahoo (combined they handle 90 percent of the advertising placed against content). Don’t send in the lawyers, just work out a deal. A way out of the prisoner’s dilemma? What do you think?

(BTW what is it with the piracy meme the past couple of weeks – the guys off the coast of Somalia – did you catch the 2nd mate on Colbert the other night? – and then the San Diego newspaper meeting with Singleton going off about it, and the AP rattling their own sabers. . . strange.)

Welcome to the club, Jane…

21 April 2009

So here’s Jane Hamsher at announcing that they’re kicking off a $150,000 fundraising campaign to pay for Marcy Wheeler (blog handle: emptywheel), plus another investigative reporter and a researcher.  Why? Here’s the money quote:

“I’ve been trying for months to get funding for Marcy so she can do what she does full time. I’ve been turned down by every major donor and donor representative I’ve asked. They’d rather create their own “astroturf” blogs.”

Amen and welcome to the congregation. It’s not just good bloggers getting locked out from access to progressive funding; it goes way back, and this is just the latest iteration.

Ridiculous – based on an elitist, ill-informed, and ultimately completely self-defeating take on what all this independent reporting is about.

Now is the time for progressive donors to make many small bets on independent journalism. Let the experiments flourish. Support the leaders, encourage the innovators, find the new ones pushing the edge.

As this blog’s namesake once said: The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.

Update: as of 4/23: $41,193 raised from 682 people (that’s about a $60 average gift).

A fundraising question about

20 April 2009

Ruth Anne Harnisch posted a comment earlier today here and pointed to Dave Cohn’s as a model to watch for journalism.

The basic idea: reporters propose story ideas or “tips” in the hope that there will be enough “citizens” interested in making a pledge of support.

Here’s how the site describes what this means:

“Pledges give reporters a sense of community interest in a news “tip.” It does not represent real money. Nothing is committed – although we ask you pledge only what you’d be willing to eventually donate if a reporter builds a full “pitch” inspired by this tip. Donations to pitches are tax-deductable and are a transaction. If the pitch is unsuccesful, you will receive money back in the form of Spot.Us credits. No matter what your money will go to support journalism.”

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Foundations, heal thyselves!

18 April 2009

The recent announcement about the Huffington Post Investigative Fund raised some concerns for me, not so much with how the journalism will be organized (although there’s plenty to talk about just there) but more on how philanthropy may not be properly organized to serve this need.

Here’s what I see unfolding:

First, various media observers (Paul Starr, Jay Rosen) are beginning to talk about journalism (Starr) or more specifically investigative journalism (Rosen, twittering away) as a “public good.” This takes the argument for “non profit journalism” (which for instance, Vince Stehle’s recent piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy neatly laid out) and extends it: it’s no longer just about the structure of financing and operations – now it’s perceived to be actually intrinsic to the work itself. If this consensus takes hold, I think it’s actually a big deal for how journalism or investigative journalism will be perceived in the near future.

I’m personally not sure about Starr’s argument that “news delivered to the public is a public good,” (Brittney Spears a public good?) but I do think Rosen’s case that investigative journalism is a public good can be made. Historically delivered via private, commercial media operations, but now with the upheaval in the business (particularly metropolitan daily newspapers), the search is on for a new home for investigative journalism. The argument then goes that given its status as a public good, investigative journalism “ought” to be supported via some sort of public funding, or at least funding made in the public trust. That is, philanthropy. And so we see a kind of intellectual backfilling going on to justify what’s beginning to unfold: big donors (like the Sandlers) or foundations (Atlantic Philanthropies) putting major money into investigative journalism. And of course this has been Mother Jones’ MO for 33 years.

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18 April 2009

I’ll be adding to the blogroll and changing some of the look and feel over the next couple of weeks.

What is this ladder?

18 April 2009

What is this ladder? Try this. It’s a way to start the conversation