Live-Blog at RJI: Fellows Share Lessons from Spot.Us, NoozYou

    by Jen Lee Reeves
    April 28, 2011
    David Cohn kicks off the day of RJI fellowship talks. He discussed the future of Spot.us and crowdfunding.

    COLUMBIA, MO. — I am live-blogging from the Reynolds Journalism Institute, which is holding a week-long RJInnovation Week. It’s a chance for the Institute to look at an incredible number of projects and ideas that are flowing through the organization. Today is focused on the 2010-11 class of RJI fellows. Each fellow gets 45 minutes to present what they worked on for the last nine months. (Note: I am an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and was in the first class of RJI fellows in 2008-09.)


    David Cohn – Did That Really Happen?

    Carnival of Journalism
    Cohn brought this blog roundup back. It went on for about a year in 2007 and was a group of journalism bloggers who would write about the same topics together. This was back in the day before Twitter really took off and the best way to talk back in the day. Dave asked if he could have carnivalofjournalism.com URL and brought it back.


    Cohn established existing and new rules:

    1. Never apologize (new)
    2. A different host every month (this starts next month – Cohn ran the first three months on his own)
    3. Everyone publishes to their own blog around the same time about the host’s topic (This month’s topic is #fail: your failure and take responsibility for it)
    4. Host does a round-up of everyone’s posts

    It became a hashtag on Twitter: #jcarn
    On average there were 40 participating bloggers in the first three months. Many of the participants took part in the Hardly Strictly Young event at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

    Hardly Strictly Young
    This event was focused on alternative recommendations to implement the Knight Commission report. It came out after Cohn attended the Aspen Institute where many thought leaders tried to go from the idea phase to the implementation phase. Some of the recommendations weren’t the first things that came to Cohn’s mind, so he thought it would be a great idea to create an alternate group of people who are not considered at the centers of power but are creating their own centers of power.

    There was lots of love and a good time was had by all during the event. But there was also great content to emerge from the gathering. Interviews were conducted with the participants along with a live broadcast which was archived. One of the overall hits was catsignal.org and a Twitter account was started during this event.


    Community Funded Reporting Handbook
    Creating a handbook was a focus from the start of Cohn’s fellowship. He and a group of researchers looked at different players in the space – including broad fundraising platforms. Kickstarter, gojo, crowdtap, kachingle, youcapital, emphas.is

    Chapters include:
    Primer on Crowdfunding
    Art of the pitch
    Introduction to other players
    Process of Screening
    Licensing considerations
    Glossary of terms
    Audience perspective
    Journalism concerns

    It will be released as a “book” format and downloadable online.


    What does Spot.us represent? When it launched it was an experiment, a new transparency and collaboration in journalism. That’s where it was as a Knight News Challenge, He was experimenting to see if there’s life out there in the crowdfunding planet. Cohn says, yes, there are signs of life. The rover was sent out and it was worthwhile experiment back in the day. The big problem now is scale. It isn’t a unique problem. It’s a problem for many startups. Can you build up enough traffic to get larger and larger?

    During his time at RJI, Cohn added a more professional redesign to the site by cleaning it up. He’s seeing regular growth The number of registered users has jumped above 10,000 and continues to grow. It doubled from 6,000 to 10,000 since September. 54 percent of the members (5,436) are donors.

    His passion: The difference between how it worked and how it is now working. Back in th day you could only help by giving credit card payments. That worked for almost two years. It worked but they had about one percent donating. He wanted to come up with alternatives. Now there’s more.

    You can click on “free credits” where you provide an act of engagement – provide anonymous feedback to the sponsor. Then you get to fund a story and decide where to fund it. It’s kind of like advertising, the public gets to decide where the money goes.

    Spot.us launched the first community sponsored credits. There was an immediate spike in participation and donations each month.

    There are stats that Cohn still needs to verify:
    In the last 12 months, 4,797 unique donations (compared to 1,000 or so in the first year). 4,379 have participated by taking a survey. There is an overlap between those two numbers. 20-25 percent of donors are repeat donors. (That’s jumped up thanks to the surveys.)

    Spot.us sponsorship kits. That’s been the hardest thing for Cohn to do. He has been able to raise about $5,000 a month. Luckily, he worked with students to come up with a sponsorship kit and come up with unique materials to present to potential sponsors.

    They’re working on more market research on the readers to help with sponsorships. The site could sell acts of engagements. Cohn offered some interesting examples:
    Jeans – if you take a survey about jeans you could also get a coupon. There could be acts of engagement that help connect with Facebook and Twitter where you share the experience you just had with the sponsorship experience on Spot.us. The results of the survey can become a topic of conversation if the sponsor is willing to let the survey go public.

    Increased consumer feedback could play a role in this. (A good example is how people provide feedback on products on Amazon. Spot.us members could try it too.)

    What if you had members of Spot.us look at the Pictures of the Year archive photos – community members could help tag the photos to help with the POY database and earn credits for each photo and help POY’s archives.

    Outsourcing surveys – The major bottleneck of this process is Cohn has to sell them himself. What if he incorporated already existing surveys. So far, he has found Research for Good. It’s a startup as well and can’t embed polling technology on Spot.us yet. That would dramatically decrease the challenge of sales for the site.

    Increase pitches by expanding the API. The Spot.us API is on PRX’s Story Pitch website and even on a Louisville NPR affiliate site. Spot.us may not even be officially visually connected. If someone is signed up on their site, it is automatically linked to Spot.us, they may never know it was links to Spot.us. That would dramatically increase the number of pitches in the system.

    During his fellowship, Cohn worked with a business class. He benefitted by working with business students and created the “Spreadsheet of Amazing.” He was able to create different scenarios. He decided to increase the take of Spot.us from donations from 5 to 10 percent. Huge benefit for the site. This looks at the benefit of hiring more people. For a long term plan, it looks like the best way to go. There are all kind of early numbers, but it looks smart to hire a sales person and it will grow.

    Strategic options for Spot.us

    Cohn created a Boldness Scale of 1 to 10 on the future of Spot.us
    1 – Consider it a successful experiment. Extrapolate lessons until funds run dry.

    3 – Continue as open source lab experiment with incremental additional effort. Would require a sustaining grant in late 2011 early 2012 to continue its current pace

    7 – Scale aggressively to remain not-for-profit

    10 – Spin-off as a for-profit

    NYT subscription model. They’re the whale. But they’re asking people for money and it isn’t for access. They’re a step towards a membership program. It’s either convenience or ignorance for people to pay for access to the New York Times website. Two things Spot.us is doing can be operated by NYT. When you get a pay meter/wall what if you created acts of engagement to give the reader an opportunity to read five more articles? Or let the members engage with the paper to contribute content or thought to the product.

    The Spot.us payment model concept is much bigger than any implementation he can do. The concept has potential to work with any product if money is exchanged for content.

    Who are your donors? Why do they want to play?

    Many of the surveys help gather demographics. It’s almost 50/50 male/female. 67 percent defined as liberal and most are on the West coast. For a month an a half, Spot.us had more traffic in the midwest (during the Wisconsin protests). It’s similar to NPR demographics but scales 10 years younger. It scales caucasian. Average income is $75,000. It’s encouraging that he can answer these questions.

    First time donors are often there because they have a direct connection to the reporter. Repeat donors say they want to feel connected to their community. Those who do come back have civic minded purpose.

    Scalability – Spot.us is an implementation of the concept of making journalism more transparent and more participatory. We normally don’t let the public understand the cost of what happens before a story. Opening a part of journalism could be implemented by any organization. Spot.us is one way to do it. Let people know what is most important to them, they the journalists will know how to serve them.

    OpenFile.ca is the for profit version of Spot.us. It does require mental shifts of how we think about our role in journalism and as journalists.

    If you really focused on the concept and not the site, could it advance journalism? The API is Cohn’s way of saying Spot.us is not a destination site. He doesn’t want that to be the case. The high growth view of the Spot.us requires other sites to implement the technology into their own site. He’s always evangelized the concept of community funded journalism, not Spot.us. The handbook will be useful for independent journalists who are freelancing. But he agrees this is a cultural shift.

    What stories get funded?

    From the first year data: Civics and politics were not popular. Criminal justice was very popular. He isn’t sure if there’s enough data to really know. He’d like to look more into it.

    Have you seen any attitude change while you were here?
    Crowdfunding is becoming more of an accepted concept. There is still much more education to be done.

    Mentioned in the group – look at the TED model. It has played the ends of exclusivity and openness.

    Anne Derryberry – Games and Journalism: An Epic Win?

    Everybody’s Talking the Game
    Seth Priebatsch of SCVNGR is quoted saying “This is the decade of the game layer.” Business leaders and beyond are seeing the trends and opportunities for games and their applications.

    Derryberry presents some compelling Factoids:

    • Videogames are #1 category for consumer/end-using spending (PWC)
    • $10.5B in US in 2009 (was 11.7B in 2008) (ESA)
    • 10.6% CAGR for 2010-2014 (PWC)
    • Global market – $70.1B by 2015 (KPCB)

    She explains the reason this is true is because of the widespread appeal of games to all ages. The average age of a gamer is 34 (ESA). 45-60 year old women are the fastest growing demographic. 67 percent of Americans play games (ESA).

    The rise of social games and Facebook-based games are a principal reason behind this rise. Most games are being played with social networking, tables, mobile, broadband access.

    Games are fun, but what are the other compelling reasons to use them? Games play mechanics and rewards (usually embedded within a web- or mobile site). It helps: promote brand awareness, adoption and attachment
    Induce participation
    raise comprehension and retention
    make tedious content/activities seem less odious

    What does this have to do with journalism? Ian Bogost at Georgia Tech is quoted from Newsgames: Journalism at Play: “We shouldn’t embrace games because they seem fun or trendy, no because they dumb down the news but because they can communicate complex ideas differently and beter than writing and pictures and film. Games are raising the bar on news, not lowering it.”

    It’s been echoed in many spaces. Kotaku (a game review publication) writer, Brian Crescente wrote “wouldn’t it be wonderful , for instance, if [there were] News Games for The Daily, allowing readers to not just passively absorb the news.”

    How Far Can We Take This?

    Derryberry wanted to bring some clarity to the thinking behind this conversation.


    So she put together a prototype: NoozYou – a game driving news outlet. It focuses on three types of News – current events, issues and editorial. You can create tools that are available for people who are going to develop these categories of games. You need a platform for people to find these kinds of products. It should offer access, community engagement and management along with a workflow process.

    How is this paid for? Are there revenue models that can come out of this? Advertising and licensing is needed. All of these questions weren’t able to be tackled during a nine month proces.

    They focused on the current events category for news telling. There are already a few games developed under this category, but current events was a bit more tricky. They adopted tools, built their own platform and the revenue model is still under construction.

    It Takes a Village

    She worked with an external development for the platform. Incoming fellow Peter Meng helped put this together. She brought in a tool from Impact Games “Play the News” for authoring story/games. Newsy agreed to be a media partner. Students helped become a news team (convergence capstone team), SEO team (interactive advertising team) and many different people attended game salons.

    13 story games were produced in a short amount of time. You can look at it all on the NoozYou site. It is a prototype but is rich with content.

    Players get to look at the last 10 stories published on Newsy.com and then vote about which topics they’d like to see made into a game. Not a lot of stats just yet, but it could be great background data for media suppliers. You can see the top three vote getters. You get to “noozify” them.

    News quizes are published weekly based on news events. Questions and feedback come from Newsy content. When you answer one of the quiz questions, you get feedback that tells you if you answered properly. If you need help, you get to watch the video.

    The site has user comments and they are already getting feedback. Most happens on the noozYou site and on individual games. Most people who wrote comments were positive about their experience. There were some recommendations and suggestions for changes. Anonymous survey turned up rich feedback for the site and helpful for what needs to happen next.

    By the numbers: So far it’s a two month experiment.The site went up at the end of February for the game developer conference, but no promotion at first. There’s been a nice bump recently with a more stable platform. So far, there’s an absolute unique of 1539 which Derryberry considers very encouraging. Only 50 percent were first time. That means most people are coming back to participate in the site. Users come from 30 countries/territories visited the site.

    Big questions remain

    New template?

    The Play the News template constrains the type of games you can create. They’d like to look at new templates might be appropriate for the site.

    How do they handle original reporting?

    She decided not to do that because it would require stories that would be hyper local with a limited audience outside of the geographic regions. She wanted content that would encourage mass use. Also, it would require a generation of a lot of media. But it’s something she’s like to tackle.

    What kinds of advergames are most effective?

    Advertising and Advergames is a hot topic, but noozYou hasn’t deeply explored this so far.
    What is the right rubric for journalytics to ensure good journalism experience design?
    She believes in data driven design. Right now she has marketing data, but she wants more. How do you generate the right interactions for news consumers. That hasn’t even gotten started.

    Most Important Lessons

    Use game techniques – but dump the moniker. There continues to be a knee-jerk negative response to the word “game.” Many people feel as though it indicates the cheapening of the news experience. If there’s another label to put on this, adoption will grow quickly. Let the contest begin.

    News-telling in this way fores and increased awareness of users’ journalism experience (JX) – The kind of rigor that is required to tell news stories forces an even greater awareness of what is happening on the recipient end of the communication equation. You really have to think about the news consumption experience. It makes the storyteller think deeper.

    Ever more powerful news-telling and analysis potential by focusing on journalism experience. You can enhance the kind of news telling and analysis of the news. You can immerse people into the story (with the goal of not drowning). You give the consumer the control – a non-linear (even non-chronological) narrative. Take in the story in the way that makes most sense to the individual. You can make assumptions, but the consumer will make the call.

    By chunking content in manageable ways and organizing it in logical ways on a single screen and successive screens, we give them the ability to create the experience. As troubling as that may seem to some, that experience may be non-linear and non-chronological. It will happen through the interactive pathways offered by the information designer. This is a storytelling format that allows all of the multimedia opportunities and multi-channel opportunities.

    Many substories can be followed and tracked. The interactivity and choices given to the users, they can jump back and forth and follow their muse as they track through the stories. A cross media experience is a great benefit for users and the flexibility they have in the stories told. It’s also the big challenge for the creators of the delivery.

    Next steps for noozYou:

    Revise and extend
    Platform, tools, services
    — high school/HED journalism programs
    — commercial license – it could be white labeled for media outlets of all kinds
    — content aggregation and syndication of stories and games

    The Power of One to the Many

    Massively Multi-participant Online Collaborations (MMOC) – she sees a great opportunity for us all to collaborate to make the noozYou concept happen. With the rise of social media and other tools. There are lots of skunkworks projects where people are coming together to solve problems together as a society. Some are organized (Wikipedia, Crisis Camp), some are not.
    -massive group problem-solving
    -using interactive design and game mechanics
    -informed and facilitated by journalism

    David Herzog – OpenMissouri

    Herzog spent his fellowship focused on launching a website that will help bring more awareness and access to government data.


    The goals of the project:

    • Inform Missourians about public data held by government agencies
    • Inspire journalists, citizens, web developers, entrepreneurs, businesses and non-profits to access and use public data in ways that enhance their civic, professional and personal lives
    • Serve as a platform that connects people who are using data from state and local government agencies
    • Educate Missourians about how they can access and use public data

    It came out of two main ideas – the discussion of transparency in the federal government and the growing culture of sharing.

    He launched the site OpenMissouri.org on March 17th during Sunshine Week and also held Open Missouri Day at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.


    So many sites are out there with a look at open records, but many have some data, but not a lot of context. Herzog says the Sunshine Foundation is doing great work helping open up federal government records. The advent of Web 2.0 has really helped make it more possible to share, search and learn from data.

    Whatdotheyknow.com helps you see Freedom of Information requests, in England, MuckRock is a very open look at search and records.

    The big question:
    How do we use simple, freely available technology to connect citizens and journalists with public data?


    Catalog: Nearly 150 data sets listed
    Search function
    Comprehensive MO department listing: 19
    There is no comprehensive state contact list for Sunshine requests. You can do that on OpenMissouri.
    It’s five weeks old and currently has 35 registered users. The site’s automated Sunshine letters will make it a lot easier to request data.

    More features will include suggesting a data set – users can suggest the collection of a data set. If you hear about a data set, click submit and the managers of OpenMissouri, it’s reviewed and verified. Commenting will also help build the community on the site.

    Potential enhancements

    Upload a dataset to share with other people. The primary goal is not for OpenMissouri to be a place to get data, it’s a place for people to share data and make sure more people can get access to the information gathered.

    APIs (application programming interfaces) to share catalog and agency information some day. It would help programmers interact with the data collected on the site – especially the agency list.

    Develop a site and social media activity stream. You’d be able to see what new interactions have happened on the site about user activity.
    How-to materials – Tips on how to file a Sunshine request, what to do when the agency ignores your request or says no.

    Joy Mayer – Engagement

    What is engagement?
    It isn’t time on site and eyeballs. It isn’t how much attention have they given to us. What she means is from the perspective of the journalist: how are we focused on the audience and how are we motivating participation.


    She interviewed journalists and looked at what strategies they are employing. There are more and more journalists with titles that are focused on engagement. She also researched outside journalism and found a lot of interesting information. Overall, Mayer found themes from interviews:

    • Outreach
    • Conversation
    • Collaboration

    Why is engagement a good idea?

    It’s good for the community – many of us got into this business to make our community a better place. Knowing the information needs for the locaiton where we’re serving.
    It’s good for the bottom line – being in touch with our audience is important. We want to know what they want. It is key.
    It’s good for the journalism – having the audience more involved. We can do things together that we couldn’t do alone. We’re more present.

    Journalism isn’t a monolithic idea. We have to know what we’re striving for so we know we’re succeeding. What is the mission. Do you want to know what to cover. Do you want more eyeballs on your site? Know what you want to do.

    The concept of listening is very important. Listen to what media consumers and users want. She used Dell’s Social Media Listening COmmand Center. It’s a good example for journalists to use

    What it means to be relevant
    It isn’t JUST about the WHAT. Journalists are great at that.
    You have to go where people are, prod them to talk, listen, share and contribute. Fish where the fish are!

    Take the party to the people.

    These ideas have been around. The public journalism movement talked about this. You could also say Outreach. Conversation. Collaboration. are ideas are already used. But you need to look at participatory tools that are helping craft different relationships.

    The biggest take away – journalists need to have a specific audience in mind and go find them.

    California Watch thought specifically about the audience it wants to reach. When they did a series on Shaky Ground – seismic safety in elementary schools. They took the knowledge they created into a coloring book and distributed it to school kids.

    Voice of San Diego – six month project about a refugee about a person who is deaf and unable to speak. If the goal is to do journalism to change lives – how do you outreach? You should consider it.

    Chicago Tribune – In person events. Hosting meetups at bars, panel discussions, big events for people to attend (and pay to attend), Second City comedy events. How are we connecting the collective experience of being in CHicago. Making a large brand more personal.

    Register Citizen in Torrington, Connecticut – they have a newsroom cafe to invite the community into the space. There’s meeting spaces and training for the community. Trying to turn the newsroom in to a community meeting space. People get coffee, look through archives, attend a class on the first amendment, photography and more.

    The hashtag #Wherewereyou – the Washington Post collected it and created the hashtag to extend the conversation.

    KOMU – Paying attention to what people are saying about issues they care about.

    Honolulu Civil Beat – reporters are called reporter hosts who are in charge of the conversations aroudn their beats. “Beat Ups” are meetups managed by the journalists who are managing the beat. The goal is to be a trusted friend of the audience.

    The St. Louis Beacon – has a series called “Race Frankly.” The goal is to get people talking about race. They have an event called “Beacon and Eggs” where they look for ways to get the community to connect.

    The Guardian holds mutualization conversation training. Using this diagram:


    The goal is to focus on the untapped potential… Those empty zones in the diagram. (You can read Joy’s full blog post about the Guardian here.)

    Simple ways for collaboration are “show me the errors” spots on news pages. It allows people to pitch in on concerns and expertise.

    See Click Fix – report on potholes and it’s an immediate connection to engage. There’s widget where many news organize use it.

    West Seattle Blog looks for story tips 24 hours a day from text message. They write conversationally about what they know and don’t know. They write asking for extra contribution from readers.

    The Rapidian explains how you can get involved with the site.

    Let people tell their stories – the Washington Post’s story about a woman who died after giving birth. It was told through the stories told from Facebook. Context was added to the posts. It’s a touching and powerful story.

    Our habits and routine need to focus more on audience interaction throughout the job.

    Next week: The Engagement Metric
    She’s going to focus on attaching value to engagement. She’s going to list out all of these elements and decide how to measure engagement.

    Journalists need to get better at measuring the effects of everything they do. What are the goals and are they being met? In order to value engagement, we need to measure it, but we need to do the same for everything else that’s being done in the newsroom.

    She’s working on a newsroom discussion guide to help you ask the right questions. Few people disagree that the newsroom needs to be approachable. But few can tell you how they make this a clear goal.

    Joy and researchers surveyed 500 daily newspaper editors

    Interview editors at dailies

    44 percent plan to increase their involvement with the community in the next 12 months. “We’re hiring someone to do this”
    “Engagement is what is needed to survive”

    9 out of 10 newsrooms talk about how to make the news more social and participatory. Don’t know how they want to do that.

    How important is community outreach in your newsroom:
    73 percent said it’s important
    “We need a two way conversation, not a one way”
    Without the community we’re dead in the water

    Conversation in the community
    85 percent said it’s important
    “The future means interaction and that means conversation”

    Collaboration in your community
    53 percent said important
    “We can’t do it all… They can help be our eyes and ears.”

    Seeking input from audience – 8 out of 10 says they seek input
    2/3 invite the audience to add to existing stories. 8 out of 10 do that at least once a week.

    Smaller papers solicit contributions more than big papers.
    3/4 of those newspapers say they do it at least once a week.

    Big papers solicit contributions along their own terms – usually about something they’re already working on.

    6 out of 10 ask for help reporting specific stories at least once a week.

    Comments sections – do you talk back here?
    This is under debate

    We analytics – 9 out of 10 say they get regular reports about web traffic.
    Larger newsrooms are more likely than smaller newsrooms to actually use those reports in making decisions.

    What have we learned:
    Editors are thinking about making the news more social and participatory
    Editors see engagement as part of good business
    They often have a narrow view of what engagement can mean
    The industry would benefit from more discussion about best practices and strategies

    Asked from the audience:
    What worries you? What are we missing? She talked to a lot of people who have already drunk the kool-aid of engagement. The idea that engagement is not important is a bit distressing. She worries a lot about measurement.

    Her concern is the current focus of ROI on social media. She questions why there is no applied ROI standard to anything else in the newsroom. If you’re going to keep track of the investment worth of social, you should track the investment in everything that is accomplished in the newsroom.

    Next year, she’s going to work on community engagement at the Columbia Missourian. She hopes to gauge community perception of the newsroom and hope that will help with the newsroom’s engagement with the consumer.

    Lisa Skube – Collaboration Platform

    Joining her are:
    Jeff Lennan
    Design, Winning Mark & Red Hot Penguin
    Janet Coats
    Patterson Foundation New Media Initiative Manager and 2011-12 RJI fellow
    Mike Fancher
    Former RJI Fell and Former Seattle Times executive Editor and involved in a lot of amazing initiatives in Seattle.

    The BIG IDEA

    Skube wanted to take many elements and bring it all together:

    • Collaboration across emerging news channels and their networks
    • Cross expertise
    • Cross industry
    • Designed around a “public good” organizing strategy


    How can all of these huge groups work together? She wanted to take the idea and see what they can do.

    Journalism is forever changed in its relation between the journalist and the communities that they serve.

    There is value in the exchange of knowledge and experience between journalists advocacy and professional service organizations.

    An expertise driven, cross-network collaboration model is ideal for catalyzing knowledge exchange in disrupted environments. Encouraging communication between stakeholder groups that may not yet share a common language.

    For example news and information providers need to understand how to cultivate and connect with community. The industry’s competency is storytelling and distribution. At the same time NGOs, avocates and community organizers need to tell better stories, recruit and engage constituents with a competency to mobilize and activate their audience.

    How are we to know if we are getting beyond people talking past each other and actually talking with each other to help solve problems.?

    Skube has looked at this challenge and create a platform that can help meet some of the needs of journalism and what others can be enriched by what journalists know.

    Fellowship Objectives:
    Define unmet need in local journalism markets to accelerate innovation and knowledge sharing
    Validate requirements from teh community to refind the kind of service model of collaboration to best serve multiple news networks and content producers, identified opportunities to assist
    Test the ideas and see what can work.


    Discovery & Intake
    Research; evaluative models
    Stakeholder interviews
    Information gathering: ONA, Block by Block, SXSWi
    Identify user communities – where is there opportunity where people are converging on similar issues
    Develop relationships and crowdsource initiatives ready to mobilize.
    Market readiness; road map + platform design – flesh this concept out
    Survey the Journalism That Matters community – the findings will come out in the next month or so
    Mizzou student teams; convergence + grad students helped work on the project

    User Community
    Identify emerging network with track record of collaboration

    There is so much wisdom in frugal efforts that happen in civic engagement where there is the most substance that bring communities together. When creating this, there’s an intentional effort to look at how to we connect with audience and how to optimize that relationship. The trick is being able to change the methodology if its needed.

    Market Readiness
    Elisabeth Osder looked at the program, beta site, initial assumptions and research. A group of students and others worked on content products looking at advertising models and beyond.

    The Platform

    Journalism Accelerator site
    When talking about it, it’s a forum about innovation in journalism
    “To accelerate meaningful inovation in the practice and raft of journalism, enriching the field through the shared benefit of engaged and informed communities

    ‘… beyond the usual suspects
    Recruiting a range of industry experts to join the conversatoin, the JA bridges knowledge, tactics, questions, resources, reviews ideas and more.

    How is it different?
    The Journalism Accelerator service model includes people who are there to help others – campaign and community managers

    The evaluation model is one of ongoing reflection and review that adjusts course and optimizes community management to achieve its goals.

    The goal will to report out on how to help the community. It’s less about the technology and more about the approach.

    It will include

    • Customer service
    • Outreach – going out and finding the communities that don’t have time to find the information they can source
    • Technology
    • Content and Curation
    • Research

    Jeff Lennan introduces the Journalism Accelerator site which is quietly live.


    The site will include all of those elements mentions. The Research section will have concepts similar to Radian 6.

    The site was built within HighRise from 37 signals. It’s a customer relationship tool that helps manage the community.

    Skube: questions posted to the site are considered a campaign. The idea is every part of the process and discussions created on this site are brought together, merge subject matters. A question is a campaign that can go deeper into the site’s goals of helping one another.

    Lennan: The site is using eCairn to collect like minded participants to help one another connect with the people who can help each other out. Instead of tracking products, it’s tracking issues, influence and links. It can also help reach out to others who can help connect one another for conversations.

    Coats and Fancher talked about how this tool can help.

    Coats: This is a great project to help take journalists and help expand perspective and passions beyond their communities. Coats says it has helped her learn more lessons and perspectives into her foundation and non-profit world that can help. This is an example of persistence and being willing to tear down what you built and do it again. It had to happen two times. Skube didn’t give up in her quest. Learning beyond your own communities is a big takeaway.

    Fancher: During his RJI fellowship, he discussed how journalism needed a new public engagement: Public trust through public engagement. What can journalists and citizens do together. In Seattle, he and the Journalism That Matters community came up with 10 important ideas during a three day meeting with community members. Seattle Digital Learning Commons project came out of this meeting. That would not have happened without this meeting. Online Media Guide (OMG) that lists the state’s social media sites. A focus on health, the TAO of journalism pledge (many high school journalists have signed this pledge). So many things came out of three days and are moving forth. But what about all of the people who couldn’t be there? How can he replicate this into a digital space. Seattle Journalism Commons was the idea. There is a hunger for this, but not the right network to manage this. He considers this a great extension to his fellowship and beyond.

    Findings and Opportunities for the Future

    Skube looked at the future of the site:

    • An ecosystem thrives due to its diversity, interdependence and natural selection driving symbiotic, yet competitive tension
    • Strategic partnerships increase return on investment and expansion of existing knowledge
    • Benchmarking against other non-profits is a strategy doomed to under achieve
    • An opportunity for new ways of classifying content; typology and taxonomy still largely absent in the new media news ecology

    Will Sullivan – The Revolution is Being Mobilized

    Started the presentation by playing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Already off to a great start.

    Mobile is changing media, business and culture, especially affecting:

    He likes to share the HTC You Campaign Commercial because it wraps up the mobile world we’re living.


    In today’s presentation:
    Act One: User Research
    Act Two Publishing and Development
    Act Three Reporting
    Act Four: Future

    He’s merged nine presentations down to 84. Go Will Go!

    User Research

    Two experiments
    Conjoint analysis discrete choice modeling – new research style for journalism
    Mobile phone user survey

    The conjoint survey looked at information that was focused mainly on college students. The findings showed when they’re given the option between paying for an app or not having an app at all, they would choose to not download the app at all. They typically chose a free app if that was an option regardless of the feature.

    The hope is to conduct a similar type of research with a wider demographic.

    Mobile phone survey talked to 398 cell phone users over the phone. There was a 42% response. The researchers used the Diffusion of Innovation Theory. The study found we are currently in the early adopter phase but soon to become the early majority phase.

    The current mobile users are males who earn $75K and up with some college or a college degree and are 18-24 years old. Interesting enough, iPad users are a similar demographic but about 10 years older.

    If you’re thinking about developing a mobile strategy, you want to think about the early majority group. The demographics are male and females who earn $30-50K with some grad degrees, 25-34 years old.

    Mobile Development

    Everyone wants a pony – they want an app when it comes to mobile development

    There are a lot of new tools and opportunities, languages and ect.

    Lots of frameworks and standards that are helping work around these standards

    Good grading system from Phillip Ryu. He wrote good questions to ask. Will recommends checking that out.

    When building Apps:

    • Use analytics to defind your strategy
    • User interests
    • Devices
    • Focus on utility, enchantments and what you can do best and define in a rapidly evolving market

    App planning
    Think beyond a 320×768x viersion of your site

    Follow MOLRS – John Battelle

    Will’s additions – APPI
    Always On

    Pew data – “What types of local news and information do adults get on mobile devices?”
    Keep up with the latest stats to help you decide on an app for your newsroom

    Very high level of regular engagement, length of engagement IF you engage with them regularly
    More monetizable, new biz models
    Lots of opportunities for innovation
    Lots of new features, customization available

    -Slower development cycle
    -Poor, sometimes irrational, user ratings hunt
    -Difficult to find unless in top ranking

    SMS & MMS:

    Basically 100% of mobile phones can accept
    Highest penetration and regular adoption of any mobile tech
    New tools offer cheaper options than before
    (Twitter fastball is good)
    Highly-valuable demographics use it regularly
    -challenging monetization models
    -fickle users – don’t send anything that they don’t want or they’ll leave
    -labor intensive can be slow to build ROI

    Mobile Reporting

    It’s kind of a big deal

    Flickr – the iPhone is about to overtake the Nikon D90 as the top photo type that is posted to the site

    “Mobile is a mindset.” – Will

    There are ways to work around this if you can’t get away from a mobile contract

    The iTouch is a good option


    • Breaking news faster
    • Many multimedia, interactive option (augmented reality)
    • Lots of opportunities with social media
    • Geolocation growth, often built in
    • Gets people out of the newsroom
    • Explosive innovation happening – not just a phone – it can be a police scanner, a document scanner.
    • Everyone can use something – the assignment desk, the reporter, the editors, everyone can use mobile devices to get more information


    • Lower visual quality – but its becoming less of an issue
    • Lots of potential points of failure (network,. battery, software, ect)
    • Explosive changes, innovatingn too fast? Sharing best practicies is tough to do
    • Challenges on accuracy and ‘slow news’ – how to you do good reporting and remain accurate

    KOMU’s snow storm with mobile and social
    VozMob – migrant workers who gather stories through feature phones. It’s an open source technology. Sharing through MMS.
    WTOP Radio – Audio edit demo on the iPhone and an app.

    Tools You Can Use

    Big debate
    Android vs. Apple

    He’s a fan of both – created a list. He thinks it comes down to preference. But if you’re doing audio slideshows or video, Apple is hands down the tool to use


    Android Tablets are a bust so far – There’s hardware and operating system problems for now. It’s so young, he can’t recommend it for a newsroom at this point.
    Nook salvation?
    Android phones are doing well – crushing it thought Apple is still strong
    iPad crushing it will for the next year o9r two
    Feature phones are still very solid,. may stay that way for a while – new Nielsen study just came out with those numbers
    Opera mobile browser may work on feature phones

    Jennifer Reeves worked in television news for the majority of her career. In the last six years, she has moved from traditional journalist to non-traditional thinker about journalism and education. Jen is currently the New Media Director at KOMU-TV and komu.com. At the same time, she is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and was a part of the inaugural class of Reynolds Journalism Institute fellows (2008-09).

    Tagged: academia david cohn fellowships journalism school noozyou openmissouri rji rjinnovation week spot.us university of missouri

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