One weekend, three NewsInnovation barcamps

3barcamps1In three corners of the country this weekend a tremendous opportunity will take place to help shape the future of journalism. But with that opportunity comes tremendous responsibility.

Journalists, technologists, web developers, students, tech business dudes, professors, professionals and others will take part in ad hoc gatherings for NewsInnovation barcamps in Portland and Chicago on Saturday, and in Miami on Sunday.

People have already submitted topics for discussion on the wiki sites for Chicago and Portland. But, as I’ve said before, it goes beyond just talking. The measure of our success has to be the number of actionable items that come out of our discussions, the number of ideas that lead to experimentation and the momentum we create to help move an industry that  needs our input, advice and ability to create cool things.

I, and others, like Greg Linch (Miami) and Matt Neznanski (Portland), will use the newsinnovation.ning.com community site as a way to communication and keep a record of the happenings at these events and offer ways for you to particpate and engage. Please take part where you can.

More about NewsInnovation

BarCamp NewsInnovation is a series of unconferences happening around the nation with the goal of bringing together energetic, tech-savvy, open-minded individuals who embrace the chaos in the media industry because the ability to do really cool things still exist.

We also need find those people outside of our industry who love to consume news and information and are great thinkers and innovators.

Other regional NewsInnovation BarCamps have been held in Columbia, Mo. and Washington, D.C.

A national event, BarCamp NewsInnovation Philadelphia, is  scheduled for April 25 thanks to the efforts of Sean Blanda. He’s done some great work on the site and in putting the event together.

And, I just found this today, there are plans for a  NewsInnovation barcamp in London.

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Turning love into money

How can you measure how much a community loves you? Can you turn love into money?

BarCamp NewsInnovation at the Univ. of Missouri ended this past Saturday with a discussion on how media companies in a digital world measure success.

The group came up with three areas we’d like to measure but haven’t yet figured out how to quantify. They speaks to the two questions above, and are: Love, engagement and influence.

Love - The perceived value of the total product, not just individual pieces of it. The model to look at is the NPR or Wikipedia model, where you’re essentially going out of business every few months and it is up to the readers to decide whether they’re willing to save you.

Engagement – How much activity is happening on the site. The karma model being used on Vita.mn is a great example, since it assigns different values to different levels of engagement.

Influence – What impact the content has. There were several suggestions for different models, including measuring outside links, doing surveys to measure positive or negative changes in crime rates, etc.

These appear as written by Gary Love, the director of product development for the Houston Chronicle, who attended the barcamp and better recalled them than I.

There is no doubt about the need for news measuring tools. Audiences are more segmented. User interfaces are designed for better experience, meaning less page views. Selling audiences instead of eyeballs is going to become more popular and more valuable than ever before.

So, can we turn love into money? Can we turn the 1,000 true fans into a profitable business model?

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans. – Kevin Kelly

Here is a transcript from this section of the BarCamp NewsInnovation live blog as we talked about measuring success.

4:15 Jason Kristufek: Matt Thompson – we focus on broad measures of attention. I am really interested in how we measure how engaged audiences are in our stuff and how devoted is the audience

4:15 Jason Kristufek: Matt Thompson – pay for performance will continue to overturn CPM rates for advertisers.

4:16 Jason Kristufek: Matt Thompson – impressions still count, especially in brand campaigns, but it strikes me that other measures of engagement will become increasingly valuable

4:17 Jason Kristufek: Jen Reeves – our sales staff doesn’t know how to use the metrics they currently have.

4:18 Jason Kristufek: Gary Love – Newspapers are trying to sell to local business and they always say the advertiser doesn’t understand the value. But Google is selling to smaller with no sales staff.

4:21 Jason Kristufek: How do you measure whether journalism has meant something to a community? – Matt Thompson

4:25 Jason Kristufek: Jane Stevens – we don’t take journalism to the solution point right now. The only place we do that is in sports.

4:26 Jason Kristufek: Bill – If you do news the way you do sports, maybe you will get more readers, because we cover sports from beginning to end.

4:27 Jason Kristufek: David – politics has become so much like sports coverage. Jane – but look at how much people were engaged in politics this year

4:28 Jason Kristufek: Ask people in your community to quantify things like police chief candidates and school board candidates

4:28 Justin: Gary: “What I would like to measure is audience love.”

4:29 Jason Kristufek: Mark – a gross national happines level – socially quantify happiness

4:31 Jason Kristufek: We want to be able to measure how much a community loves us. Can we turn love into money?

4:33 Jason Kristufek: Matt Thompson talking about karma points

4:33 markpoepsel: Matt Thompson: used a system of karma points to invite interaction

4:33 markpoepsel: Matt: points were given for adding information, more points for commenting, most points for creating something that brought the “most love”

4:35 Jason Kristufek: Gary Love – once you set a sucess metric and start to move toward that you need to strive for something better

4:36 markpoepsel: make sure that your success metric actually involves giving something of better quality to the community

4:36 markpoepsel: (Gary)

4:37 Jason Kristufek: NPR measures love by donations – Matt Thompson.

4:41 Justin: Matt: We should never be afraid of angering people in power–but it should never be our goal.

4:41 markpoepsel: we measure our worth by how we assist our community. we can no longer afford to take an adversarial stance against…well…pretty much everybody

4:44 markpoepsel: Elizabeth’s question was how we can measure our worth in other ways besides ad $$. Matt: You put something on the front page of the newspaper, and it moves something, it causes things to change…it is a shame to lose that.

4:45 markpoepsel: Bill: change the idea that news is news because it’s new and different…instead measure it by how many people it affects.

4:48 markpoepsel: Jane: Yeah, consider covering topics such as domestic violence with the kind of depth that you cover a sports season. If sports were covered the way crime was, we would only report the highest scoring games, the biggest stats, without any context of which teams were really ahead (it’s almost like the diff. between fantasy sports and real sports -mp)

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We have a lot of work to do

After spending two days last week at the Reynolds Journalism Institute – once for the news collaboratory and once for BarCamp NewsInnovation – the resounding theme, besides information overload, was that we have a lot of work to do.

But the tasks ahead are not insurmountable if we work together. And I am going to point to two specific tasks that will require collaboration if they are going to work.

Will you commit to be a part of the solution?

Task – Get journalist and developers working in tandem more often

Proposed solutionJen Reeves set up a community as a way of connecting journalist and developers that you can join and participate in.

Joe Boydston already says, “If you dream it, we’ll build it.” He continues, “I’m willing to put money where my mouth is. Let’s hear some ideas… If our industry participants think we need it, we’ll build it for free.”

Task – Create a “cookbook” type repository for open-source applications and how-to demonstrations

Proposed solution – Matt Thompson purchased a URL http://journalismneeds.com/ that could become such a place. He’s already done a drupal install on the site.

As an example, Thompson would like to see someone build Pluck-like tools and applications in open source.

I’ll be posting more in the coming days about the RJI Collabotory and BarCamp NewsInnovation.

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At the forefront of change

In about a week, I will be taking part in an ad-hoc, open discussion with interested folks about solutions and tasks that can help media companies transform.

On Saturday, Jan. 24, the first BarCamp NewsInnovation (#newsinnovation) will be held at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute on the campus of the University of Missouri.

One big reason for the event was an inquiry from convergence journalism student Kelsey Proud.

It seemed like a perfect opportunity to bring something positive and innovative to Mizzou, and to people in the middle of the country who, I’m sure, have ideas that no one has heard before, or questions that are unique to the region and need to be addressed by those who know the situations best.

Kelsey is a representative of a journalist being trained for a world living in the new information ecosystem. She doesn’t live in the same arena that editors and reporters currently do. We have a lot to learn from people like her.

Journalists are saying that the younger generations will be leading the way in the next few years in our industry, and by bringing a BarCamp NewsInnovation to Missouri, I hoped that I could help bring a forum to some of those younger minds, hear everyone’s ideas (not just those from the younger people), and hopefully spark some neat new ideas of my own.

As I’ve said before, and many people have said, journalism isn’t dying, it’s just changing, and entering a new phase. I want to be on the front of that change, and I felt that having BarCamp NewsInnovation at Mizzou was a great place to start.

I realize, now more than ever, that simply having these types of discussions and listening to new voices is not enough. There is a lot of inertia working against the transformation of journalism, and there is plenty of corporate fossilization that stands in the way.

I am very open to ideas on this, but my hope is to come away from these ad-hoc discussions with firm tasks or new tools that can be pursued through evangelism, but most importantly by action. Please, share your thoughts on that with me by commenting below or via email.

Here are a few of the topics that Kelsey, I and others will likely be talking about and presenting at BarCamp NewsInnovation. The nature of a barcamp means that the topics aren’t really decided until the day of, but this may get us started. You can add your topic to the wiki.

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The Outsiders: New voices empowered to act

The chatter about BarCamp NewsInnovation is picking up and with it I get asked more and more the question of how I feel it can benefit the media industry.

There are ongoing meetings designed to help media companies become better at the new information ecosystem. People are talking about new business models. And CEOs are meeting every six months.

There was even a trade association meeting this past week that Jeff Jarvis writes about getting kicked out of.

As I harrumphed out, I said this is the problem with the industry: It is too closed, still. It is not hearing enough new voices and perspectives and ideas. . . Indeed, as budgets are cut back and trade association dues are lopped off, there’ll be a need for such ad hoc meetings – more need than ever.

The idea behind BarCamp NewsInnovation is to empower people (who Jarvis calls the outsiders) to act, find solutions to experiment with, take risks, fail fast and break down barriers.

What will it take for you to make a move on that idea you want to pursue? What tasks can you schedule yourself to complete to make that idea a reality?

For me it was a Friday evening conversation over Vietnamese. What will it take for you? We all have ideas and find cool links to share with our colleagues. But what do we do with them?

I know there are barriers and battles against inertia, as David Cohn puts it in replaying a conversation with Tristin Harris.

. . . news organizations get boggled down in bureaucracy and take anyone that tries to interface with them along for the ride. If that is our problem what does it take to break out of it? Ironically enough: I believe it is going to take brave individuals from WITHIN those institutions.

What I want to say to you now is this:  You have the power to act. Be a voice for change, not only by the words you put in a blog but by the cool tool you build or the new revenue stream you create.

What these people need is to hear more new voices – newer than old me. What they really need to do is share their challenges and ideas openly and hear new perspectives and new answers from unexpected sources. (Jarvis)

One example of that happened recently with a major local weather event in Washington state. Four journalists from different media companies worked together to cover the heck out of it using some newer technology to provide the most relevant information to people as the story unfolded.

My hope is that more examples come out of BarCamp NewsInnovation. I feel these ad-hoc gatherings could be just the place for new ideas, perspectives and real action to occur.

The idea is to get energetic, tech-savvy, open-minded individuals who embrace the chaos in the media industry because the ability to do really cool things still exists. We also need find those people outside of our industry who love to consume news and information and are great thinkers and innovators.

So far there are two confirmed dates and locations: University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. on Saturday, Jan. 24 and Temple University in Philadelphia on April 25.

I’m confident that others will be held in Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C. I’m also very close to announcing the date and location for one in Chicago (most likely either Feb. 7 or Feb. 21.)

I have contacts for people who have interest in holding BarCamps in Atlanta, Miami and Boston and San Francisco. What about Denver?

Where else can we engage? Who has an idea that they want to task on, but may need a push to get going? Who wants to start working on a twitter and classified-type ad application?

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BarCamp NewsInnovation, Columbia, Mo., Jan. 24

A friend recently used the example of how Napster blew up the music industry by changing the paradigm, saying the media industry needs to find its own Napster.  Sean Blanda described a similar example as the “kite moment.”

However  you look at the state of the industry and what steps will lead to the transformation of organizations, mindsets, business models, collaboration and content curation, the time has come to do something. One action you can take is to participate in BarCamp NewsInnovation.

I am happy to announce that a regional event, BarCamp NewsInnovation-UM, (#BCNIUM) will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 at the Fred W. Smith Forum at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

mo_barcamp_logo

A big thanks goes out to Kelsey Proud, who spearheaded the idea. The location was secured with the help of Jane Stevens and Hannah Jackson.

So now my attention turns to getting people in the room. Please help spread the word. Use the wiki to let people know you will be attending. Submit a topic to discuss. Got a presentation you’d like to showoff, post the idea.

Not sure what a BarCamp is? Use these links to find out. What is it? What to expect. Here is  a link to What worked/What can be improved from CopyCamp.

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Update on BarCamp NewsInnovation

I keep hearing from many people that the more they learn about BarCamp NewsInnovation the more excited they get. That’s a good thing, and I’m psyched too. But there is still much to do and much to get figured out, so here I am, again, asking for your feedback and help.

First, here is the latest: The national meet up is scheduled for Saturday, April 25 at the Annenberg Building at Temple University‘s department of journalism. Thanks to Sean Blanda and others for setting that up. Are you going? I am. Please, spread the word.

Here is a rundown of the regional events that I am aware of:

  • Chicago – Northwestern University, Chicago Loop, date TBA, but hopeful for a Saturday in February or March, and should have a good idea very soon.
  • Columbia, Mo.University of Missouri, Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, Jan. 24
  • Washington, D.C. – location TBA (can you help find a location? If so, please contact wamitchell at washingtoncitypaper dot com), Saturday, Jan. 24.
  • Portland, Ore.

I also received word at one time from Brian Reich about holding an event in Boston, from Leonard Witt in holding one at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta and from Greg Linch in hosting one in Miami. Anyone want to help at those locations?

On BarCamp NewsInnovation Washington, D.C., from Will Atwood Mitchell – The theme is innovation: creating better ways to deliver news. It’s a chance for journalists, news org techies, bloggers, citizen journalists, editors, publishers, and everyone in between to get together and share our best ideas and strategies, and to talk about practical, common solutions to the problems we’re facing. The event will be free and is open to everyone who is interested. The only requirement is that everyone should come prepared to participate.

OK, now to the meat of this post. Last month I asked the question: What should BarCamp NewsInnovation be? I received little feedback on the post, but did get some response on the wiki site that is good to revisit, and I want to open up to feedback and get a conversation going.

Who do we need to participate to make this work?

A mix of journalists, bloggers, technical folks, citizen journalist, editors, publishers, CEOs, business types and organizations and individuals engaged in civic life that regularly interact in news and information

What are the topics to tackle?

  • Expanding from “journalism” to “civic media” – from Maurreen Skowran
  • What consumers of information are ultimately looking for – from Chuck Peters who referenced Brendan Watson.
  • What’s working/what’s missing in your organization – from Ryan Sholin.
  • Web shells – via Jane Stevens
  • Business models and revenue – Steve Buttry
  • Presentations could be about cool blog and CMS plugins, strategies for using Twitter effectively, tips for producing video and integrating it with other content, better ways to involve readers interactively, success stories (or tragic failures) of attempts to build a social network presence, compelling uses of aggregated content and link journalism, community management guidelines, new story forms, and especially anything innovative you’re doing that doesn’t have a buzzword (yet). Discussions about pie-in-the-sky ideas and how they might become reality are also encouraged. – Will Atwood Mitchell
  • What are the other topics or problems that we can try to solve?

Random thoughts from random places associated with the BarCamp NewsInnovation idea?

  • Solving problems: “My primary lesson is that working sessions only worked when they were presented with a problem to solve.” – Jeff Jarvis
  • Build prototypes to show off back home – Ryan Sholin
  • “Don’t focus on current organizations; be open to efforts and organization not yet happening or maybe even not yet imagined, whether by some group or by individuals working alone.” – Maurreen Skowran

  • “Best practices doesn’t fit with innovation, because a current innovation would not yet be developed enough to know what is best. On the other hand, there might be practices that are best to develop and support innovation.” – Maurreen Skowran

  • David Cohn reminded me today to check out what worked and what could be improved from CopyCamp

So that’s the update and some thoughts that I have been dealing with. I’m looking forward to making more progress in the next week.

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Plans for a news organization incubator

The panel
Image by Clyde Bentley via Flickr

Just before Christmas, I was contacted by University of Missouri convergence journalism student Kelsey Proud about holding a regional BarCamp NewsInnovation at the Donald W. Reynold Journalism Institute in Columbia, Missouri.

In the process of trying to work out a date (which should be known soon), I was contact by Jane Stevens who gave me a heads-up on a one-day talkfest being hosted by the institute called Putting Feet on the Streets for Journalism”.

Journalists, entrepreneurs, academics, and experts from the worlds of technology and business will gather on January 21, 2009 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute for a one-day Talkfest called “Putting Feet on the Streets for Journalism.” The participants’ challenge: to develop plans for the RJI Collaboratory, a news organization incubator.

One working concept is to get entrepreneurial journalists, citizens and organizations together to create strategies and tools for high-quality Web-based journalism.

Here some more bullet points that Stevens sent me via email that said still need to be figured out:

  • What does a news organization incubator do exactly? We think an incubator can provide advertising strategies and techniques, technology services, business planning, Web shell (information architecture ) and design services, and ethics guidelines. But what else? And how does it provide its guidance and services?
  • What roles can other colleges and departments of the University of Missouri play in a news organization incubator? Could computer science students develop online services for entrepreneurial journalists? Could business school students work with entrepreneurial journalists to develop robust organizations?
  • What could an incubator do in the first year? The second year? The third year?
  • What does a news organization incubator need to get started?
  • Does a news organization incubator derive funding from the organizations it nurtures? If so, how? If the news organization incubator is part of the university, what is the incubator’s intellectual property policy?
  • How does the news organization incubator develop partnerships with other centers or journalism schools?
  • How does the news organization incubator develop partnerships with organizations that might be interested in funding start-ups?

Sounds similar to some of the themes that BarCamp NewsInnovation hopes to tackle.

It sounds like a great conversation and I am excited to attend. Here is more on the program, the list of participants and how you can attend.

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What should BarCamp NewsInnovation be?

We have an incredible opportunity, now we have to figure out what to make of it. I hope to begin a conversation about what we want to accomplish with BarCamp NewsInnovation.

The plan so far is to hold regional BarCamps in Chicago, Portland and Washington, D.C. sometime in January. I have proposed other sites but have not had volunteers step forward just yet and roll with it. If you are interested contact me.

I also am proposing we hold national BarCamp NewsInnovation in Philadelphia, spearheaded by ideas floated by Sean Blanda, sometime in April.

I feel the timing is perfect. As the media industry continues to move along with no implemented solutions to solving revenue and audience issues, we have a chance to make a significant, lasting contribution. With that comes a high level of responsibility too. Most importantly, the timing is right to act.

David Cohn commented recently that, “This isn’t just about evangelism anymore – it is about making the logical decision.” I go one step further. It’s not only making the decision, but then acting on it, trying something quickly , failing and then learning and adapting. Wouldn’t it be cool if BarCamp NewsInnovation spurred the newspaper industry’s first research and development lab?

Look at what I was able to witness this week. Six journalism students, Team Crunchberry, introduced newsmixer.us, a project in collaboration with Gazette Communications. In just 12 weeks, the team could very well have revolutionized the way people engage and interact with news.

We don’t have to be perfect when it comes to BarCamp NewsInnovation, but we do have to be diligent and come away with a direct course of action that can inspire new tasks and behaviors.

So what is it that we should focus on? What is the job to be done? Should we look at changing the way news organizations create information? What should we do with the talk about the news as components: sources, facts, ideas, opinions and readers? Can we solve the business model riddle? What am I missing?

Here are some other ideas offered by some smart people. Again, I hope this becomes an open conversation. Please comment Most of what is below you can find on the BarCamp NewsInnovation wiki site.

  • Chuck Peters: I am hopeful that all of this work focuses on what the ultimate consumers of the information are looking for. I, for one, am trying how to make sense of the inputs possible in what can be a nauseating cacophony of information.
  • Matt Neznanski: I’m thinking that a healthy amount of problem-solving and best practices would be most helpful.
  • Ryan Sholin: Talk about what’s working in your organization, whether it’s a tool, a story form, or a way of getting reporters, editors, or ad salespeople to use new tools and story forms. Talk about what’s missing in your organization, what you need help with, what you wish were easier. Break into birds-of-a-feather groups based on those first two data points, where the haves help the have-nots. Ideally, build prototypes to show off back home. If what you need is a niche social network, you should walk away from this meeting with something to show off in a meeting when you get back to your newsroom. (Whether it’s a live, branded Ning site or a Drupal install on your laptop.) No panels, no keynotes, maybe some short, Pecha Kucha presentations to get through points 1. and 2.
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Team Crunchberry and newsnixer.us.

I was fortunate to be in the room today when this group of cool kids from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Team Crunchberry, gave their presentation today to a group from Gazette Communications on their project NewsMixer.

I tried, with the help of The Gazette editor Steve Buttry, to live blog the presentation. It went OK, at best. My first live blog experience so it could have been better. Let me know what you think.

Here’s more information from Team Crunchberry on their project.

Tuesday, Dec. 9, the Medill New Media Publishing Project (Team Crunchberry) will present an exciting new Web site designed to get young adults engaged in the news through online discussion and their social relationships.

The site has been built during Medill’s fall quarter by a team of master’s students in our interactive sequence. Two of the students are experienced computer programmers attending Medill through a unique scholarship program designed to bring technologists into the journalism field.

The Web site the team has built is designed to address some of the most interesting challenges and opportunities confronting media and journalism in the 21st century:
· Getting young adults interested in local news
· Enabling genuine, productive online conversations regarding the news
· Building communities of news users
· Leveraging the value of online social networks (Facebook, MySpace, etc.) to improve journalism

The site has been developed in collaboration with Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, owner of the Gazette newspaper and KCRG-TV. It will be one of the first sites in the world to take advantage of Facebook Connect, a new tool that allows Facebook users to log into other sites and connect there with their social networks.

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