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Entrepreneurial Journalism lecture -- Jan. 31

January 31, 2012

Entrepreneurial Journalism — “Journalism in the age of disruption”

Disruption — interruption of normal work and practices.

  • If it displaces an existing business or practice.
  • The economic mechanisms that have sustained quality journalism are in the process of being disrupted.
  • Effected by: scandals, increased transparency via groups like Wikileaks, and, mainly, slow innovation.
  • Disruption a painful process but offers opportunities for new businesses and rebirth.
  • Historical context:

    • In the 18th century Britain moved from an agrarian to a machine-based economy via the industrial revolution
    • Britain’s trade routes and technological industry positioned the country well.
  • Movement away from the era of mass production
  • Historic Fatality

    • Agriculture — is obviously beneficial. Once it caught on, it caught on quickly.

      • Satisfied deep human desires for settlement and consistency
  • Division of power

    • Gradual erosion of power for centralized sources.
    • Gutenberg printing press disrupted the Catholic church’s control over the Christian faith.
  • Division of power has accelerated with the web

    • Near universal access to information, which can be freely shared with others
    • Cuts of middlemen
    • Anyone an express themselves and find an audience.
  • As a result:

    • Flattens hierarchical power structures
    • Capital and information flows are faster, more fluid and chaotic
    • Accelerating innovation
    • Impulse is to both create and consume.
    • Audience increasingly alienated by the mass market approach to media.
    • Moore’s law specifies the speed of processors double every 18 months, but also that the cost of technology decreases, space and bandwidth increase.
  • Disruptive models

    • Perrato Principle:

      • 80% of your profit will come from 20% of your inventory
      • Amazon undermined due to Toyatan retailing

        • Make more from selling misfires than hits (The Long Tail)
    • Music industry — failed to innovate because of rival subscription-based services with incomplete inventories and format wars

      • Apple rejected subscription model with iTunes by charging 99c per song, required individual songs to be sold instead of just whole albums
    • Google particularly disruptive

      • Google’s main service is search, which is made profitable by Adwords.

        • Made newspaper advertising seem incredibly expensive and unreliable
    • “Prisoner’s dilemma” — Google takes away advertising revenue and commodifies news, but to remove stories from its service is to lose traffic to rivals.
    • Value of information is near zero on Internet; key is to find value in other aspects of journalism

      • Fact verification, sourcing, fact aggregation, etc.

Some innovators

  • Controlivest

    • Portuguese company

      • Gave away piece of silverware with each issue; missing an issue would mean having an incomplete set. The silverware cost a fraction of an issue/distribution.
  • Bild

    • “Vado” camera. Cheap video camera that allows instant transmission to the newspaper of video.
  • Ushahidi

    • Open source platform to collect real-time crisis information
  • Overview

    • AP data visualization tool — find networks in very large data sets.
  • Naseadresa

    • Combined hyperlocal newsrooms with cafes. “News cafes”

      • Would work together to produce 30-page tabloid weekly papers.
      • Shared content and linked by a central newsroom
      • Revenue gaining efforts to cafe were undermined by the revenue losing efforts of newspaper
      • Struggled to find advertising revenue
  • Demand Media

    • Looks for high traffic terms, builds articles relevant to search queries.
  • Autodesk 123D — free 3D printing design software

    • Micromanufacturing and Ponoko — able to create things with no cost to the producer until a customer actually buys something. Movement towards zero risk business strategy.

Q&A — Nick Newman (Created BBC Digital website; helped develop the iPlayer)


Ændrew Rininsland
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Ændrew would like to thank Naomi Prescod-Green for a tremendous number of design and content suggestions over the course of this site's development.