News Leadership 3.0

March 11, 2010

Year of the Pay Wall? Hardly. 2010 may be the Year of Participation

2010 was supposed to be the year of the online pay wall in the mainstream print news industry. But so far, we’ve seen little action on that front. (Among other things, the impending arrival of the iPad and the increasing urgency of mobile may be drawing news industry attention away from the idea that they might be able to charge people for access to content on their Web site.) At the same time, a different ethic may be taking hold. Happily, this one seems better suited to the Web.

It’s the ethic of participation and sharing.

A few examples from the past week or so:

ProPublica’s Reporting Recipe - ProPublica posted its Reporting Recipe, detailing how ProPublica and The Los Angeles Times pulled off an investigation that discovered serious breakdowns in the state of California’s regulation of nurses.

From the intro: “We realize that many newsrooms face competing priorities and limited resources, so we’re making our reporting recipe public ...  We understand that many reporters and members of the public will not be able to dedicate the same resources. Still, there are many things you can do to get a good understanding of how well your state regulators are performing.”

The note also includes contact info for ProPublica staffers and lets users sign up for a conference call about the investigation. Wow. What a gift!

Open311 - The cities of San Francisco and Washington, D.C. boosted collaboration on a shared, open standard for municipal information with the announcement that those cities would launch the Open311 API within weeks. 311 systems enable citizens to report problems such as pot holes or graffiti, to government via Web or texting. The systems promise to give officials access to more information and to make them more responsive without the need for more inspectors. The idea of the Open311 initiative is to give cities a boost in developing their systems, to facilitate improvements by the development community, and to give systems the capacity to work together (jargon alert: This is often referred to as making them “interoperable”).

Social media editors - Of course, sharing is alive and well on social media. Encouragingly, the American Journalism Review reports, that more mainstream news organizations are assigning staff to focus on social networks.  I hope these moves help traditional organizations move past their view that social networks are a one-way delivery system and I hope the journalists in these new roles invest some time in figuring out how do a better job of tending online comments and fostering a worthwhile discussion. Other sites manage to do this, and it’s a mystery to my why more news outlets don’t seize this opportunity to engage with their users.

Twitter - Twitter is my preferred social network, and, as I have pointed out, it’s my most significant source of news and information about topics I care about. Alberto IbargŁen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, emphasized a similar idea last week at Knight’s recent Media Learning Seminar for leaders of the nation’s community foundations, many of whom are stepping up to fund local and state news and information projects. IbargŁen noted that he’d heard some at the conference express skepticism that information delivered by new digital technology “couldn’t be taken seriously.” He showed slides of tweets by Jay Rosen and others to reinforce the idea that people are sharing serious information and discussion on social platforms. “They are real and they are useful and they are how we will continue to deliver information.” (Here’s the video of IbargŁen’s comments. He talks about Twitter from 8:00 through 11:14.) (Disclosure: I do some consulting with Knight Foundation.)

Reporter as host - John Temple, editor of the Peer News local start up in Honolulu, reinforced the idea of sharing and participation very aptly in job descriptions for the newsroom staff members formerly known as reporters. “Today it’s my pleasure to announce the names of the first people who’ll be joining the service as “reporter and host.” Yes, you read that correctly. The job profile for reporters at Peer News includes the role of host, reflecting our commitment to community engagement as a central part of the reporters’ role,” Temple said on his blog.

Local news partnerships
- The Pro journalism vs. Am(ateur) journalism argument has taken up a lot of bandwidth. That’s changing. Now it’s about Pro AND Am, working together to cover the news. Pro-am efforts are merging on many fronts. More on that in my comments on the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism‘s annual State of the News Media report, to be released Monday.

What is your news organization doing to foster sharing and participation online? Please post your ideas in the comments. Thanks.

Bonus link: Yesterday, Josh Stearns posted this list of collaborations among news organizations.


the online pay wall in the mainstream will be popular all over the world. Because of economy risk, many people are busy to earn mony to feed their family, and less consider their health, how can they get out of this?

Page 1 of 1 pages

Commenting is not available in this section entry.


Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

Get in touch with Michele at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

More Leadership at KDMC:
Leadership Seminars | Annual Leadership Reports

Support is provided by:

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

USC Annenberg School for Communication

McCormick Foundation

Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute


@michelemclellan on Twitter

Recent Entries





Tag Cloud