Category Archives: Business of journalism

Future of Journalism, Cardiff Conference round-up

I spent the last two days in Cardiff for Bob Franklin’s biannual journalism studies conference hosted by the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC). Lots of good stuff and great to see folks and catch up on interesting work being done around the world. (Full program here, abstracts of all papers here.)

Three take-aways from panels and discussions I attended (more at #FoJ2013 on Twitter for those interested)—

First, local and regional journalism and news information environments–

It was very refreshing to see several very good pieces of empirical research on the particular questions concerning local and regional journalism and news information environments in different contexts. I was particularly impressed with the work being done by Andy Williams and colleagues on local and hyperlocal journalism in the UK, Julie Firmstone and Stephen Coleman’s work-in-progress on the local information environment in Leeds (including studies of the city council, legacy news, and new digital sites), as well as research by Piet Bakker and colleagues from the Netherlands on developments there. Very good stuff. It would be great to see more studies from other countries so we can develop a more comparative understanding of what is going on with local news and information environments in different contexts. (Some work has been done in the US too.)

Second,the ubiquity of the New York Times–

It is clear that the New York Times continues to hold enormous sway over the imagination of both journalists and journalism studies scholars thinking about digital and digital strategy. As Piet Bakker rightly remarked after Robert Picard’s keynote lecture, “everyone talks about the same three examples: the New York Times, financial newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, and the Guardian.” Of course, all of these are highly unusual cases, from which we can probably learn relatively little about how digital is developing and working out for other news organizations, including top titles in small national markets (that is, much of Western Europe), but also, apropos my point above, local and regional newspapers like the Western Mail in Wales (studied by Williams et al), the Yorkshire Post (studied by Firmstone and Coleman), and their equivalents in other countries. As I’ve argued before—as many others have—even if we have to recognize the empirical fact that the New York Times figures prominently in how lots of people talk and think about digital strategy, the actual news organization and company itself probably can’t even tell us much about how other US newspapers are faring, let alone how newspapers elsewhere are faring. There’s an analogy here to the role for example the Barack Obama campaign plays in discussions of digital politics. (As Oscar Westlund pointed out in one discussion, it’s well known from studies of organizational learning that you often make your biggest mistakes when you learn from the wrong examples.)

Third,lots of good, theoretically and methodologically diverse, work on digital–

Journalism studies continues to catch up on digital, lots of good work on innovation, the integration of new technologies in newsrooms and work practices, how ordinary people engage with news etc through digital, and also some work across platforms that takes digital seriously without giving up on legacy or ignoring legacy media’s enduring importance. The field of journalism studies, from my impression, has done a better job of overcoming sharp analogue/digital distinctions and “old media”/”new media” binaries than many other areas of media and communication studies including, I hate to admit as someone who also has an intellectual home there, parts of political communication research. In part, it is good to see how a conference like this draws not only people who consider themselves journalism studies scholars, but also a sizable contingent of audience researchers (very interesting papers by Regina Marchi from the US and by Tim Groot Kormelink and Irene Costera Meier from the Netherlands on tailor-made news), a few media economists, people studying management, etc. This kind of diversity is surely a necessary part of understanding journalism today.

Prospects for global and national news, what about local?

Developments at leading national newspapers building their (paying) digital audience both in-country and internationally give reason for some cautious optimism concerning the future of global and national news, but it is not clear that we can learn much from the models rolled out at these papers when it comes to the important question of the future of local and regional news.

That’s one of my takeaways from a fabulous 30th Anniversary Weekend celebrating the Reuters Institute’s fellowship program for journalists from around the world. (The program’s 30th anniversary, not mine…)

In addition to a great chance to catch up with fellows and friends from around the world, the weekend provided for several interesting discussions of developments in the business of journalism around the world, with presentations by the new New York Times Company CEO Mark Thompson, Natalie Nougayrede, the editor-in-chief of the French daily newspaper Le Monde, and John Stackhouse, editor-in-chief of the Canadian Globe and Mail.

A few highlights from their presentations—

  • All of them recognized the challenges their organizations have faced and still face in a changing media environment, but all also spoke with confidence and vision about a future in which an expanded range of editorial content across more platform and a greater reliance on reader (viewer/listener/user) payment will continue to provide us with great journalism.
  • All stress their ambition to stand out from the empty calories of breaking news “churnalism” to create value for their users (in Nougayrede’s words: we need to get it first, but also get it right and get it rich). Especially Mark Thompson spoke out very strongly against the idea of “paid advertorials” or “native advertising” blurring the line between editorial and advertising.
  • All predict hybrid print-digital models for the foreseeable future—Mark Thompson said that internal modeling at the NYT suggest that print will be a key part of the company and news organization “for much longer than many people imagine”.
  • All present business models based on print sales and advertising revenues combined with digital advertising plus an increased emphasis on digital sales and an expanding range of ancillary products based on each news organization’s brand and reputation (conferences, seminars, etc).
  • All of them are heading news organizations with lower revenues today than in the 1990s, but all are also painting a picture where the coming years may look better than the dramatic declines of 2007-2012.

It was all very interesting, and many of the journalists in the audience remarked that it was refreshing to hear such confident and relatively upbeat presentations after years of doom and gloom, at least in North America and much of Europe.

Of course, all three speakers are keen to promote their vision for their respective title, and to boost their future prospects, but I thought every one of them remained mostly reality-based on their presentations and I agree that there are reasons for cautious optimism when it comes to the future of titles like especially the New York Times, but also nationally-dominant quality brands with some potential for global reach like the Le Monde (Nougayrede spoke of plans to expand the title’s presence in Francophone Africa, where some countries have a sizable and growing professional class).

But, just sticking to the case of the New York Times and Le Monde, I continue to wonder how much we can really learn from their experience when it comes to the future of other newspapers, especially local and regional newspapers and newspapers in smaller countries.

Mark Thompson quoted Chris Anderson, Emily Bell, and Clay Shirky’s important caveat in their report on “Post-Industrial Journalism” from last year to the effect that every statement in discussions of the future of journalism that begins with the sentence “let’s take the New York Times as an example” ought to be discounted because the NYT’s experience really isn’t representative of anything else. It is in a set of one, and only few other titles, perhaps the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, can be compared with it in any meaningful way.

Even the step from being a leading national title (with considerable global potential) in a market of 315 million to being amongst the top titles in markets of 60 million (like France) with less global potential is huge in terms of getting to critical mass both in terms of digital advertising and digital sales. The situation in a country like my native Denmark, with a population of 5.5 million (less than New York City or Paris alone) is of course very different.

For both national papers in smaller countries and regional and local papers in bigger ones, the problem of critical mass—which is central both when it comes to digital advertising revenues and digital sales, where people often speak of aiming for a “conversation rate” of maybe 1 per cent of monthly unique visitors signing up as paying readers—is even more pressing than at titles with potential for global reach. Mark Thompson called the New York Times a relative minnow when it comes to digital advertising (volume is required both to generate revenue and to enable good behavioral targeting of advertising). He is right, of course, when comparing the Times to Google, Facebook, etc, but if the NYT is a minnow, I don’t know what the word would then be for other newspapers.

We can see the problems of reaching critical mass both in small countries like Denmark, where even the top national newspapers are in a situation quite different from that of the New York Times or even Le Monde. The New York Times can support a newsroom with more than 1,000 journalists in a country of 315 million (with an additional about ten percent of its digital subscribers from the rest of the world). Divide that by 60 to get to Danish size, and you would have a newsroom of less than 20. Even after several years of cost-cutting, the newsroom at a title like Berlingske (currently being shopped around by its debt-burdened British owners Mecom) is much, much larger than that, but it remains an open question for how long it can sustain such an investment in quality journalism.

We can also see the problem of critical mass at the hundreds of local and regional daily papers that make up the majority of the US newspaper industry, employ the majority of US journalists, and produce much of the independent coverage of public affairs. The Newark-based Star-Ledger, for example, is critical in terms of covering New Jersey’s notoriously corrupt and incestuous politics (what other Western newspaper has a section simply called “corruption”?). Based across the Hudson River from the New York Times, it is losing money even though it has a daily paid circulation larger than Le Monde or several Danish daily papers combined (over 340,000 on weekdays). And though it is growing its digital subscriber base, it is hard for the Star-Ledger to build a digital business, as many of the readers it caters to already get some local news for free via broadcast and web from local television stations etc and many get much of their national and international coverage from national sources or larger neighboring newspapers like the Philadelphia Inquirer (in South Jersey) and the New York Times (in North Jersey). The recent trouble at AOL’s Patch and Advance Publication’s decision to scrap AnnArbor.com suggest that online-only hyperlocal journalism is even harder to sustain on a commercial basis. The problems of rapidly eroding print revenues and very limited growth in terms of digital revenue also bedevils much of the European local and regional press (though there seems to be some exceptions such as in Finland where the regional press seems to be doing better than the national press).

So, even though the presentations by Mark Thompson and even Natalie Nougayrede from Le Monde provided some reasons for cautious optimism when it comes to the future of global and national news, I’m not sure we can learn all that much from the experience of the New York Times when it comes to newspapers in smaller national markets or when it comes to regional or local newspapers.

This problem—especially the future of local and regional news—is thus intellectually distinct from the problem of the future of national and global news, and of separate importance not only for the business of journalism, but also very much for democracy. Though news tend to focus on national politics and national issues, most of our lives are lived locally, and much of our politics and government play out locally, watched by and reported on by ever fewer journalists. That, I think, is a problem in terms of accountability and in terms of the independent sources of information available to citizens about local public affairs.

Genachowski did little to help journalism—will the next FCC chair act differently?

On March 22, the Federal Communication Commission Chairman, Julius Genachowski, confirmed that he is stepping down.

Much of the discussion of Genachowski’s legacy has focused on what the FCC did and didn’t do during his tenure on important core issues like internet access and mobile service, as well as questions concerning the commission’s overall regulatory authority in an increasingly convergent media sector.

What about journalism? This is not a core concern for the FCC, but it is important, and with the publication in 2011 of the “Information Needs of Communities”-report, Genachowski at least raised the possibility that the commission would seek to play some role in addressing the democratic challenges that arise from the wrenching transformation that the news industry—newspapers in particular—is undergoing in the United States.

Especially since 2007, the combination of economic pressures and technological change has severely challenged the business models that used to sustain journalism in the United States. Especially local, metropolitan, and state-level issues are in many places no longer covered in ways that ensure people can keep track of public affairs in their community.

The implications are potentially dire—as Paul Starr has put it, it may well be “goodbye to the age of newspapers, hello to a new era of corruption.”

The “Information Needs of Communities”-report recognized the challenges this transformation in the news industry represent for American democracy, and though it did not present major policy initiatives to address the issue, it did make a number of minor recommendations.

Little has been done, however, to act on these recommendations, and there are no signs that the fundamental challenges—of how to serve, in the future, the democratic information needs of communities—have been met.

Here is how the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism summarizes developments in the news industry since the publication in 2011 of the “Information Needs of Communities”-report—

In 2012, a continued erosion of news reporting resources converged with growing opportunities for those in politics, government agencies, companies and others to take their messages directly to the public.

Signs of the shrinking reporting power are documented throughout this year’s report. Estimates for newspaper newsroom cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30% since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978.

[…] This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands. And findings from our new public opinion survey released in this report reveal that the public is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.

The problems that prompted the “Information Needs of Communities”-report have not gone away. In fact, in many respects, they are only growing worse. Even as digital technologies empower us in many ways as citizens and consumers, the news that help us act as such is rapidly eroding in many parts of the United States. The possibility that the FCC would seek to play some constructive role in addressing this  problem remains, almost two years after the report came out, at best that—a possibility.

Public policy initiatives in general and the FCC in particular cannot make the challenges that news media organizations and journalism face go away. But policy initiatives can help the news industry and the journalistic profession address these challenges and make the most of the new opportunities that present themselves to ensure that communities across American have access to the information that they need to engage in democratic self-governance.

In terms of doing so, Genachowski leaves no real legacy. The “Information Needs of Communities”-report published under his tenure documented many of the problems at hand. Let’s hope the next FCC chair will start looking for ways of addressing them.

The New York Times company leaving the U.S. newspaper industry behind

I’ve written a short blog post on the Huffington Post on the New York Times Company’s decision to (again) try to sell the New England Media Group (including the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette).

I wrote this Thursday morning European time, between then and the publication on the HuffPo site, several other people have written interesting stuff on the same issue, including Ken Doctor at the Nieman Labs blog and Andrew Beaujon at Poynter.

Also, now the Wall Street Journal reports that the New York Times Company has already received a formal bid valuing the Globe at more than $100 million. It will be interesting to follow what happens.

Post-industrial journalism across the western world plus predictions for 2013

I’ve written a comment on the Columbia Journalism School/Tow Center for Digital Journalism report on “Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present”  for the Nieman Journalism Lab site discussing similarities and differences between the US and Europe, and also contributed a short piece for their series of predictions for what the year 2013 will bring for news/journalism, basically suggesting we’ll see more of the same plus at least one major surprise.

Why Newsweek’s decision to stop printing does not herald the (immediate) end of print

Newsweek just announced it is going all-digital at the end of the year. I’ve been asked by several journalists whether this heralds the end of print. Basically my answer is “no.”

Clearly, the cyclical and structural pressures felt by most of the news industry have played a decisive role in this decision. It is also clear that print is a smaller and smaller (though still significant) part of the overall media environment of affluent democracies, in terms of both audience, sales revenue, and advertising revenue.

But print remains the most important and most profitable part of the news business for most legacy media companies, often accounting for 80%-90% of overall revenues and most of the profit. Digital continues to be at best breaking even or delivering a thin margin, and often continues to make losses even at very prominent news organizations with sizable online/mobile audiences.

Print is shrinking, but it will continue to be a key part of the many, diverse platforms and sources of revenue of many well-run news organizations for years to come. Digital is growing, but still hard to make money off.

Some of the best news magazines around the world, including the Economist operating from the UK, Spiegel in Germany, and to some extent Newsweek’s most direct US competitor, Time Magazine, have managed to build very promising print-digital hybrid models around exactly this basic insight–print and digital typically need to go hand in hand to make things work financially. Born-digital news sites like Politico in the US and The European in Germany and Rue89 in France have all resorted to print products as part of their attempts to build sustainable businesses (and not simply large online audiences drawn by free content). Many of these have so far weathered the ongoing digital transition better than many other legacy media companies. I would be very surprised to see any of the above-mentioned news magazines go digital-only in the near future.

So if Newsweek’s decision to stop printing isn’t the end of print, what is it then?

It is a case to illustrate the point that for legacy print-based media organizations to survive in the vastly more competitive media environment of today, faced with both cyclical and structural challenges, they need—

1)      Operational excellence in terms of running eroding legacy businesses to ensure that they continue to contribute to the bottom line and enable investment in innovation and quality content. It is bad enough to lose money on digital offerings. Many companies do. If you lose money on your legacy offerings too, you are in deep trouble. Newsweek has been losing money for years and its print circulation has declined much faster than for example Time’s.

2)      A reality-based digital strategy that includes a way of generating revenue of expensively produced content. Free as a money-making proposition works only for a very few, very big sites—the volume game has few winners, and most of them are not content-producers but services. (Last year, Zenith Optimedia estimated that Google gobbled up almost 45% of global online advertising spending in 2010. The top five companies together accounted for more than 60%. None of them are content producers.)

3)      A clear value-proposition to one or more clearly defined target audiences and a convincing differentiation between you and your nearest competitors to ensure you can (a) earn people’s attention (and perhaps persuade some to embrace a pay model) and (b) at least ensure you get premium CPM rates for your web traffic.

Newsweek has been a great news magazine and has produced some great journalism. But it had none of the above. In today’s media environment it is increasingly marginalized, an also-ran compared to its main competitors. Second best would have been easily good enough in the most hospitable environment of pre-digital, pre-crisis media. It no longer is.

The Guardian–millions of users, millions in losses

Tim de Lisle has written an excellent piece for Intelligent Life asking “Can the Guardian Survive?”–a question that, given the “soft power” this newspaper, with its millions and millions of online readers, seems to exercise across parts of the industry, has ramifications well beyond the British broadsheet market. (Alan Rusbridger, the editor, and Emily Bell, the former director of online content, are both frequent speakers at “future of journalism”-type conferences.)

de Lisle doesn’t answer the question–only time will tell–but there are plenty of warning signs in his article. Leave aside some occasionally excellent journalism, and look at the numbers.

In the financial year 2009-10, the national newspapers division of Guardian Media Group—which also includes the Observer, Britain’s oldest Sunday paper—lost £37m. The following year, it managed to cut costs by £26m, and still ended up losing £38m. In May, Rusbridger told me he was expecting a similar loss for 2011-12. So, for three years running, the Guardian has been losing £100,000 a day.

In fairness, of the three other broadsheets competing in the same national market, the Times and the Independent are also losing millions and reliant on their owners propping up the business. Only the market-leader, the Daily Telegraph, is actually producing a profit (£55 million last year).

In the article, de Lisle mentions some of the new sources of revenues being explored at the Guardian to push beyond sales and advertising–of course iPhone and iPad apps, also Master Classes, and the Guardian Open Weekend. There are also various forms of networks, that de Lisle doesn’t touch on, including Guardian Soulmates, professional networks etc, plus of course various forms of e-commerce, selling books, shoes, wines, etc. Fancy an air cooler? (See screenshot below.) The Guardian can help you, and as you enjoy the pleasant temperature, you are helping pay for Nick Davies’ next expose.

The Guardian is thus, like everyone else, trying to diversify their business. But de Lisle has talked to those who doubt the current strategy, with its emphasis on growing the freely available website, is going to work. Juan Señor, a media consultant I know from my work at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, says to de Lisle

“We are very concerned … that everybody looks at the Guardian’s success in terms of volume of traffic. That is not a measure of success, because you might as well get into pornography. … While I love the Guardian’s journalism at times, I just don’t think it’s sustainable. They’re announcing even more lay-offs, it’s a tragedy.”

And that is worth keeping in mind for those working to change news organizations elsewhere, who don’t have the kind of money in the bank that the Guardian can rely on (about £200 million at the last count–enough for five more years with losses like this).

For all its journalistic successes and its millions of users, the Guardian continues to double down on a all-or-nothing strategy that so far has resulted in millions and millions in loses. Wish them well. They need it. Think twice before imitating them. They are heading down a dangerous path.

What’s happening to our media?

I’m in the process of writing up a report that presents the main findings from the research project on the changing business of journalism and its implications for democracy that I’ve been involved in over the last two years.

In the project, we try to identify the key “big trends” in the media in a range of different democracies (Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States) over the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Given such a spread of countries, widely different in too many ways to mention, there is obviously not one thing, or even a few things, that have happened to media and democracy in all of them.

Nonetheless, I’m trying to summarize the main points—below is a condensed passage from the concluding part of the draft report. Any and all comments on its most welcome, here or by email.

Most fundamentally, the last decade has involved a continued expansion of the number of options available to audiences and advertisers. This expansion originates in political, economic, and technological developments that gathered pace in the 1980s and 1990s with deregulation of the media sector in many countries, the growth of multi-channel television, the launch of an increasing number of free newspapers in many countries, and the spread of first-generation internet access via dial-up modems. It has been vastly accelerated by the spread of digital television and broadband internet in the 2000s.

The expansion of options has lead to an erosion of the everyday audience of most individual media outlets across most platforms, pressuring sales and advertising revenues for commercial providers, especially in mature markets with limited growth—in some cases to an extent that has jeopardized sustainability or forced severe cost-cutting. Few significant newspapers or broadcasters have actually closed, but most are under pressure. One the one hand, media companies have responded by adding more and more outlets to their expanding portfolios—at the very least adding a website and mobile services to whatever print title or broadcast channel they have historically been based around. On the other hand, this move towards more and more integrated and convergent media companies has been accompanied by layoffs, demands for increased productivity, and internal restructurings. (The booming Indian media market, where industry revenues are growing at double-digit rates annually, has seen much more of the former than the latter, though a recession will almost certainly result in retrenchment and consolidation.)

While a handful of infrastructural intermediaries in the telecommunications, pay television, search engine, and social media sectors have built positions that allow them to exercise market power and generate considerable profits, most content-based media companies face increased competition. In their attempts to remain distinct and relevant to audiences they are under external pressure from a growing number of alternatives appealing to the same users and under internal pressure in cases where cost-cutting threatens investments in quality content.

National newspapers that in the 1990s primarily competed with each other today face competition from both freesheets, broadcasters, and online services. The terrestrial television channels that ruled the airwaves twenty years ago are now up against a growing number of digitally transmitted free-to-air channels as well as premium pay channels and audiovisual services streamed over the internet. Legacy media websites and internet portals that dominated online news provision ten years ago are under increasing pressure from a growing number of aggregators and other new alternatives. As when radio disrupted the media sector in the 1920s and 1930s and television did the same in the 1950s and 1960s, the introduction and spread of a new media platform and the emergence of a multitude of new entrants all catering to the same finite number of audiences and advertisers have had knock-on consequences for legacy media, forcing incumbents to adjust their existing operations and take a stance on how to position themselves vis-à-vis the new medium.

This fundamental strategic challenge is the same across the world, but differences in conditions on the ground means that the tactics and outcomes vary in significant ways.

Amongst affluent democracies, the development is most dramatic in the United States, where all major news providers, with the partial exception of local television stations and a few cable channels, have lost revenues, seen their profit margin shrink or disappear, and have cut their investment in journalism. In much of Europe, public service providers face strategic challenges associated with the expansion of choice and the intensified competition for audiences, but their revenue models remain fundamentally solid. In Northern Europe, including Finland and Germany, commercial legacy media companies coming out of both print and broadcasting have so far managed to hold their own despite the spread of multi-channel digital television and high levels of broadband penetration. In Southern Europe, broadcasters have also held their own while many newspaper companies are struggling as challenges associated with the rise of the internet threaten their already weak commercial foundations, forcing some to rely on cross-subsidies from non-media businesses or financial support from their owners. In Brazil and India, large parts of the media sector are booming, but the revenues are not necessarily invested in quality content.

In the absence of dramatic change in media use, media markets, or media policy, and assuming no new game-changing technologies are waiting in the wings, media systems in affluent democracies are likely to see (a) a continued erosion of most media audiences and an increasing number of only partially overlapping niche audiences, (b) the continued decline of a newspaper industry that has in some cases enjoyed a few decades of monopoly-powered profitability but has been on the retreat overall in many countries for longer (as newspapers, for all their trouble, has been the main underwriters of professionally produced news journalism this has direct consequences for the number of reporters employed), (c) a continually growing gulf, driven in part by people’s preferences, in part by niche-oriented marketing logics, and in part by competition between outlets keen to differentiate their products from the competition, between the few who will in all likelihood be more informed than ever before, and the many who will receive, seek out, and find less and less news produced for them, especially if they belong to groups not considered attractive by advertisers. We are still at the beginning of the shake-out that will follow.

The full report will be published in October–stay peeled.

New report on (the travails of) journalistic online start-ups in Western Europe

Given all that’s being written about the economic travails of the legacy media industry, it may be surprising—and somewhat depressing—to learn that news media start-ups are struggling too.

But that’s the main finding of a new RISJ Challenge, Survival is Success: Journalistic Online Start-Ups in Western Europe, written by the Italian journalist Nicola Bruno and myself.

Examining nine strategically chosen case studies of journalistic online start-ups from Germany, France, and Italy, we find that the economics of online news are as challenging for new entrants as they are for industry incumbents.

The competition for people’s attention is fierce, and though online advertising is growing rapidly, most of it goes to a small number of US-based giants like Google. This is a tough environment for start-ups, and the track record so far suggests that, as we indicate in the title of our report, survival is a form of success in itself.

Given the structural challenges that new journalistic ventures face, what can they do differently? In my view, one I’ve laid out in a bit more detail in a piece for Reuters Analysis & Opinion, they need to stop irrationally imitating the strategies of the (few) large US-based start-ups, like the Huffington Post, Gawker, and Politico, that many of the people interviewed for the report referred to as inspirations. Strategies that worked for earlier movers operating in a much larger US market are not necessarily going to work for start-ups entering smaller markets at a later point in time.

To survive—and to succeed—journalistic online start-ups in Western Europe need to find their own way, think beyond the dominant, and mostly failing, existing models of news production. I know this is a lot easier to say than it is to do, but it is worth saying anyhow. I wish all the new news entrepreneurs good luck. We need them.

The Rendell Inquirer?

Ed Rendell, the Democratic former governor of Pennsylvania and Mayor of Philadelphia, is heading a group of powerful politicians and local business men interested i nacquiring the troubled Philadelphia Media Network. I’ve written a piece on the Nieman Lab blog about experiences elsewhere with “instrumentalization” of news organizations. You have to check it out, if only for the neat little photo colleage they’ve used to illustrate it…