Busy week in new media (hint: it’s niche and local)

The week in new media for this blogger started in Philadelphia on Saturday, Nov. 7,  and ended Thursday, Nov. 12 in Richmond, VA.

The days in between took me to Washington, D.C. and all the cities were quite the haul (24 road hours) from Scranton, PA, where I live. The trek was worth it, especially given the priceless networking and exposure to Journalism 2.0 projects and pioneers. And yes, for some of us who keep up with new media reporting and entrepreneurial journalism, there were some familiar names in the crowd.

Here is a quick recap:


I liveblogged PhIJI: Philadelphia Initiative for Journalism Innovation, hosted by Temple University’s journalism progam faculty. The school chose panelists from local start-ups of both print and online publications, marketing executives, venture capitalists, and a faculty member from the business school.

Note: One of the organizer’s told me after the event that staff from traditional media were invited. None showed.

In the breakout session, “Multimedia websites,” reprsentatives from Philebrity.com, AroundMainLine.com, Berks Community Television (BCTV) and MiNDTV discussed their business models and stages of development. BCTV, a public station, recently received funding to develop a news site and are recruiting citizen journalists. AroundMainLine.com representatives talked about catering to an upscale bedroom community.

In “The Start-up Mindset” session, Gabriel Weinberg talked about his search engine duckduckgo.com that he said filters a lot of unwanted junk in search returns, while Neil Harner discussed marketing his new magazine Philly Beer Scene, a publication about craft beers that is catching on with bartenders, drinks reviewers and beverage distributors.

Venture capitalist/angel investor reps were from DreamItVentures and RSM McGladfrey/CFO Alliance. Marketers and branders included staff from Seek Up Group, Brown Partners, RadioOne, and book author Gloria Blakely.

Amy Webb, a new media consultancy firm Webbmedia Group, ended the day with her keynote address that introduced the crowd of mostly journalism students to Journalism 3.0 (and beyond!) web applications and “lifestreaming” trends. Her keynote material is here — there’s a ton of useful links. Also, some of this stuff is really advanced. What do you think about their applications for journalism?



More than 50 people attended J-Lab’s 2009 New Media Women Entrepreneurs summit that assembled a day’s line-up of hyperlocal and community journalism pioneers. Some were operating with the help of donations and non-profit grants from J-Lab, others were commercial. All the sites, it’s editors and founders said, involved a lot of sweat equity.

Greg Linch, from Publish2, did a bang-up job collecting tweets, and here’s detailed coverage from a Knight Digital Media Center rep.

Panelist topics ranged from training citizen journos (difficult, and turnover is high) to staying organized using Google apps and  finding revenue by hosting regional conferences.

Some speaker highlights:

WestSeattleBlog.com co-founder Tracy Record talked about the “turning moment” for her community blog — when it morphed from a general neighborhood interest site to breaking news during a windstorm that shut down part of West Seattle. She was “self-drafted” by residents to find out what was going on. Record, a traditional news veteran, says she tries to post 12 stories a day.

At OaklandLocal.com, Susan Mernit said she is focusing on news and projects generated by area non-profits, groups which are usually underserved in traditional media. The site also reflects the large activist community in Oakland.

The Forum founder Maureen Mann started her site in an underserved media corner in New Hampshire. She said since the site began in 2005, legacy media outlets have begun paying more attention to the area. She also noticed more civic engagement: When she started, there were only two seats were contested for 22 positions in which there were only 14 candidates.

NewCastleNOW.org was begun in 2007 by two parents who were regular school board meeting attendees. They, Susie Pender and Christine Yeres, wanted more information about a school construction project. Now they cover four town hall or school board meetings a week.

MadisonCommons.org editor Cathy DeShano said she has had mixed results training citizen journalists. She said anyone who wants to contribute to the site must complete training, but many abandon the effort and lose their nerve to write when they see publishing standards. She said they get a lot of people in their 20s and 60s. Turnover is high.

Teresa Puente, a communications faculty at Columbia College in Chicago, is starting Latina-Voices.com to generate news and information about women in the Latino community.

A full list of names and site links to the 12 presenters is here.

THURSDAY: Richmond, VA


At the Virginia Press Association workshop, in collaboration with the Online News Association, newspaper people from some of Virginia’s major dailies were briefed on social media, online publication laws and the “micropersonal vs. microlocal” news movement, plus tips on mining online data, paid content, and social networking in political coverage.

The VPA has begun collecting blog coverage from the afternoon.

Ken Sands, a digital media consultant from DC., plugged the Twitter feed The Twitter Times and urged editors and reporters to find block-level data, do smart aggregation and tap neighborhood bloggers or contributors.

And Ryan Sholin,  Publish2’s director of news innovation, listed Five Ways to Put Social Media to Work in Your Newsroom. And he posted his slide presentation in PDF form on the Web.

ALSO THURSDAY: I couldn’t attend this, but I would have liked to: Jeff Jarvis’ HyperCamp on New Business Models for News.

Digital Media Committee member Jessica Durkin is the founder of http://inothernews.us, where she tracks community news start-ups. She is the Region 3 director for the National Association of Hispanic Jounalists, and just joined Journalism That Matters. She is @jessdrkn on Twitter.

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