Making it Pay Today

How do these theories and ideas about what is happening to individuals, in businesses, and in society  fit the realities of the marketplace? In this section, we consider business models that are working for journalists and for anyone who aims to communicate about the world around them.

I realized that we needed an economic model to explain how an economy could be based on "free." And we need to understand the psychology of that. We have the psychology of free, we're drawn to it, but we feel cheated by it. If something used to be paid for and then it becomes free, we think the quality is lower. But if something has always been free, and remains free, we don't think that." Chris Anderson

In considering news and journalism as we have defined in the 5th Estate, it is useful to contrast the private sector and the public sector. We have discussed how news is a public good. With private goods and and in the profit sector, when performance increases, improvement merit a premium price. In the public sector, however, improved performance is a political or social good, not a price. The economic ideas that a business model is created from need to account for the non-monetary nature of public or social good.

New ways to collaborate.

We’ve all heard the expression “two heads are better than one.”  James Surowiecki’s  interest in how markets work led him to write  Wisdom of the Crowd. Surowiecki realized that it wasn’t just markets that were smart, crowds of all sorts could be smart, too. A crowd is any group that can work collectively to solve a problem or take action. What makes a crowd “smart?” If we understand how to identify smart crowds, how can we harness this knowlege to make sense of it, and use it in decision-making? There are several journalistic projects that are combining technology and social networking to find solutions to the challenge of using collective intelligence.

For what we’ll call crowdsourcing to work, the crowd needs to be diverse. It needs to be decentralized, and non-hierarchical so that no one individual dominates the outcome of decisions. Individuals in a crowd need to be independent, and make their own choices, and here is where technology can help out, a smart crowd needs some kind of tool or process to summarize the independent opinions into one collective verdict

First, the community submits short quotes, citing a source where the quote can be verified, or flagging it. Then responses to a quote to either support, challenge or give more context that cite sources are added, and one can be marked as the best response to the quote. Members of the project can also participate in the discussion which doesn’t require sources to be cited, but is a great place to debate and express thoughts that may not fit elsewhere.

The result is an annotated discussion of a text. Then, armed with the multiple viewpoints and further information provided by the responses and discussion, the community judges and rates the item. From all of these actions, reputation scores are generated for any person or group involved, even the sources. Reputations encourage social capital and help the community identify the credibility of its members.

Ameritocracy model

Ameritocracy applies technological ideas to allow new forms of collaborative writing and reading.

Ameritocracy applies technological ideas to allow new forms of collaborative writing and reading.

Organizing over need, getting funded because it was important.

Detailed a community of journalists which formed after the murder of Bay Area Editor Chauncey Bailey who was doing the “Your Bakery Story”

Journalists formed an investigative collaborative that works with but isn’t “owned” by any local news, TV, etc. organization.

This could become a model for how reporters from competitive newsrooms can do joint investigations.

The journalists did NOT collaborate without effort

The story was the “unit of focus”

Stories broke in the Tribune (a newspaper)

Stories are picked up by broadcast on TV

After print and broadcast, the story goes online and the process continues.

Reporters who weren’t getting paid, applied for foundation money (SPJ, Knight)

Won an IRE award

Two experienced reporters are working with journalism teachers and students to produce investigations

These will be send to public broadcasting and other outlets

They want to complete 6-8 serious investigations per year.

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