Posts Tagged ‘Jessica Durkin’

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,, 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. representatives talked about catering to an upscale bedroom community.

In “The Start-up Mindset” session, Gabriel Weinberg talked about his search engine 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: 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, 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. 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. 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 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, 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.

Kicking it Old School, Pt. 2

Earlier I wrote about content being king, no matter the medium (i.e., journalism c. 1700s or journalism 3.0), see “Kicking it Old School.” I since ran into another timeless idea for business and journalism. 

I’m on this digital media committee, I founded an online news start-up directory,, and most of us journos are scrambling to learn the latest digital system that will help us compete in the journalistic workforce.

But this blog entry is about one mainstay in American commerce: the business card.

I am huge advocate of entrepreneurial journalism, and just as reporters are having to adapt and re-adjust their thinking to today’s digital necessities, they may be forgetting to distinguish themselves through business cards as they venture into freelance territory. 

According to the 2009 Layoff Tracker Report, a survey released earlier this month by Unity, Journalists of Color, Inc., an alliance of ethnic minority journalism groups, since Sept. 15, 2008 (the Lehman Brother’s collapse), the journalism industry lost jobs at almost three times the rate of jobs lost in the general economy each month. 

The group states: UNITY’S 2009 Layoff Tracker Report shows an average 22% increase in journalism jobs lost each month from September 2008 through August 2009. In contrast, the economy shed jobs at an average page of plus 8% each month during the same period. 

Since Sept. 15 of last year, the news industry lost 35,885 jobs; and if you go back nine months, to Jan. 1, 2008, when Unity began tracking the industry downsizing, the job loss count rises to 46,599, according to the report. 

And 201 media outlets have closed, also since January 2008. 

The figures were compiled through company self-reporting and through group research. 

That climate of staggering media job losses means that’s a lot of unemployed journalists who are going the freelancing route, or who are not attached to an established outlet. That doesn’t mean you can’t advertise your own service. 

What got me thinking about the necessity of a business card was I attended a journalism networking mixer in Washington, D.C., this month, at the National Press Club. I was laid off from my newspaper job in March, and I am trying to forge a digital freelance writer gig for myself. 

Announcing it is one thing; offering this information in a more permanent medium, on a card, is another. I went to this mixer without cards and was caught unawares — people, other journalists, working journalists, wanted my information and I had to scribble it on notepads, on the back of borrowed cards. 

Business cards can be easily ordered on the Internet and they are inexpensive. One reporter who has started his own community news site covering a section of Los Angeles at, recommended, which offers 250 business cards starting at $5.99. Do an Internet search to shop around; there are several other companies offering competitive pricing and services. 

I tested Vistaprint and you can play around with the designs online. Their software allows you to pick a design, or go the custom route, and input your information to see how it will look before you purchase it. 

No matter what your skill set is or what service you want to offer, put it on a business card and have it ready to hand to anyone who asks about what you do. 

Digital Media Committee member Jessica Durkin is going to get business cards this month. She’s LinkedIn, Facebooked, Twittered , has two e-mail accounts and two phone numbers. It’s time to put it on paper. Jessica, who is based in Scranton, PA, is also the Region 3 Director for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.


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