New Media

Another mag leaves the shelves - Heeb Magazine goes web-only

Eric Kohn, Wall Street Journal

This morning, “Heeb” publisher and editor-in-chief Josh Neuman announced on the magazine’s website that the snarky Jewish publication has ceased production of its print edition. This should come as no surprise to anyone following the slow demise of print media around the world, but longtime Heeb readers will still take note of the shift as a bittersweet moment. Since 2001, the magazine has constantly challenged modern notions of American Jewry with a savage wit and an appetite for controversy, which it satisfied in nearly issue. As a cultural statement, Heeb managed to be both profound and profoundly lowbrow — “Mad” magazine with more circumcision jokes.

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No revenue model for news? Labor steps up

David Westphal, Online Journalism Review

At the recent Harvard session on new business models for news, I offered an off-the-beaten-path idea to the question of who will pay for the news. One answer, I said, was non-news organizations: NGOs, trade associations, businesses, governments and labor unions.

Yes, labor unions. There are indications of a back-to-the-future trend in labor funding for the news. Just in the last several months, two labor unions in southern California have provided six-figure funding for very different kinds of operations - Voice of Orange County, an independent news site working toward a January launch, and Accountable California, a direct arm of Local 721, Service Employees International Union.

The idea that legitimate journalism might flow from "special-interest" labor money would have seemed a non-starter to many of us not long ago. How could journalists provide fair and unfettered accounts when their paychecks were the product of an organization with a clear political agenda? In fact, though, Voice of Orange County and Accountable California are simply a revival of a kind of journalism that permeated American life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries - labor-backed newspapers.

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A Hard look at foundation-funded journalism

Steve Katz, Save the News

If the events of the past couple of months are any indication, the future of foundation-funded, nonprofit journalism looks pretty good right now. Consider:

  • Sheri Fink’s 13,000-word investigation into the facts behind the deaths at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center put foundation-funded journalism (in this case, by the Kaiser Family Foundation Media Fellowship in Health program and by the Sandler Family Foundation’s support for Fink’s employer, ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative reporting outfit) on the mainstream media map;
  • A gathering at the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation’s Pocantico estate of about two dozen nonprofit news organizations, including the Center for Public Integrity, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and several local online news operations from San Diego, Seattle, Texas, St. Louis and elsewhere, led to the formation of a new Investigative News Network that may become a delivery vehicle for foundation funding for a number of media operations, as well as an opportunity for networked collaborative reporting;
  • And at least two states, Vermont and Illinois, have approved legislation authorizing the so-called “L3C” corporate structure, which (as Jim Barnett writes at his blog) “allows a corporation to take on investors who are willing to accept varying rates of return - or possibly none at all.” This L3C option could give budding nonprofit journalism outfits access to both philanthropic and straight-up private investor money.
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Seattle Times partners with neighborhood news sites

Seattle Times

The Seattle Times and several neighborhood news Web sites in Seattle are joining forces as part of an interactive journalism project.

Kathy Best, managing editor with responsibility for seattletimes.com, said the sites are among the leading neighborhood newsgathering operations in Seattle, staffed by professionals who share The Times' journalistic values.

Suki Dardarian, managing editor of The Times' print editions, said, "We're thrilled to be part of building something that can help this community and at the same time contribute to the profession of journalism."

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News ecosystem needs collaboration, not us vs. them mentality

Chris O’Brien, MediaShift

One of the great tragedies that I see in the current debate about the future of journalism is the way the discussion continues to be framed around a series of binary choices. Newspapers or blogs. Print or online. Journalists or algorithms.

In each case, there seems to be a simple-minded belief that the future will inevitably be one or the other. I consider this tragic because the result is a lot of dead-end debates that devolve into spitball fights about whether one will replace the other. My belief is that the better conversation is about how these things should complement each other and extend and enrich our journalism. That is the great opportunity of this moment.

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Community broadband and digital justice for Seattle

Seattle Digital Justice Campaign

A recent study found that the US has fallen to 20th place internationally in household broadband use. Many suburban and rural communities have limited or no access to affordable, high-speed Internet. Even in tech-savvy US cities (including Seattle), local residents pay too much for too little speed and bandwidth, our consumer "choice" for broadband services limited to choosing between the phone company and the cable company.

Thanks to broadband stimulus funds in the Recovery Act passed this spring, rural and urban communities across the US will soon be able to expand local community access to affordable, high-speed Internet. It's a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift our tech infrastructure into high gear—benefiting our democracy, our culture, our economy, our healthcare, our public safety, our educational system and our environment.

Seattle may soon move forward with plans to connect the city's neighborhoods with high-speed broadband. If you're in the Seattle area, come to a meeting on Community Broadband and Digital Justice for Seattle, 6pm Mon, Jul 13 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, to learn about the details--and help articulating our technology needs for the next generation! Special guest: Seattle Chief Information Officer Bill Schrier; hosted by Reclaim the Media and the NW Media Action Grassroots Network.

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Should newspapers be funded by the government?

Ezra Klein, Washington Post

Moral of the day: Selling access to government officials who are willing to contribute their time and power to the media's cause is a bad revenue model for newspapers. Another way of saying that is that newspapers should not be funded by indirect government subsidies. But the whole brouhaha confirms my long-held belief that newspapers should be funded by direct government subsidies.

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AP to distribute journalism by 4 nonprofits, including CIR and ProPublica

Editor and Publisher

The Associated Press will announce today that on July 1 it will begin distributing the work of four nonprofit groups devoted to investigative journalism.

This is aimed at vastly expanding their audience -- and partly filling the gap left by cutbacks in the newsroom. The newspapers can publish the stories for free.

The four groups are ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity, the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

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CNNFail: Twitniverse slams lack of Iran coverage

Daniel Terdiman, CNet

While word of riots in the streets of Tehran spread like wildfire on Twitter, CNN stayed largely silent on the story, surprising and dismaying many.

As the Iranian election aftermath unfolded in Tehran--thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to express their anger at perceived electoral irregularities--an unexpected hashtag began to explode through the Twitterverse: "CNNFail."

Even as Twitter became the best source for rapid-fire news developments from the front lines of the riots in Tehran, a growing number of users of the microblogging service were incredulous at the near total lack of coverage of the story on CNN, a network that cut its teeth with on-the-spot reporting from the Middle East.

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Why NPR is the future of mainstream media

Josh Catone, Mashable

In March of this year, National Public Radio (NPR) revealed that by the end of 2008, 23.6 million people were tuning into its broadcasts each week. In fact, NPR’s ratings have increased steadily since 2000, and they’ve managed to hold on to much of their 2008 election coverage listenership bump (with over 26 million people tuning in each week so far in 2009), unlike many of their mainstream media counterparts.

Compared to cable news, where most networks are shedding viewers, and newspapers, where circulation continues to plummet, NPR is starting to look like they have the future of news all figured out. Or at least, they appear to doing a lot better at it than the rest of the traditional media.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey