All Together Now: Best Practices in Journalism Collaboration

This post was adapted from a presentation I gave on journalism collaboration to public radio news directors gathered in Salt Lake City for their annual conference. 

Collaboration is at the heart of the work we are doing through the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s Journalism Sustainability project which is focused on developing a statewide model for a more connected, inclusive, sustainable news ecosystem in New Jersey. We believe that quality local news is critical to healthy communities and that sustainability for that kind of reporting depends in part on collaborating across news organizations and with your community.

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New Revenue for News: 52 Business Ideas to Support Local Journalism

I recently spoke to CUNY’s Summer Entrepreneurial Journalism Training about alternative revenue streams and business models for news. Below is a list of 52 revenue strategies to support local news, with links to newsrooms that are using them.

Subscribe to our newslettter, The Local Fix, for a weekly round-up of ideas and innovations in community engagement, reporting and revenue strategies.

Image via IDEO’s Human Centered Design Toolkit

My full slides are available here and include key questions you should ask yourself for each of the categories below.







Side Businesses

Print + Digital

Premium Content




For even more discussion of business models don’t miss:

Sources of subsidy in the production of news: a list. By Jay Rosen

76 Ways to Make Money in Digital Media. By David Plotz

Fueling The Growth of Community-Driven Journalism

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A preview of the Engage Local conference on the intersection between local news and community engagement, June 16 in Newark, New Jersey.

Access to ubiquitous metrics in newsrooms have framed a lot of conversations about community engagement and listening in terms of what we can learn from data. This treats engagement as a kind of science that we can test and measure, but also privileges certain modes of engagement — namely online and social.

But engagement is much more than that.

Later this month journalists from across the country will gather together in Newark, New Jersey, for the Engage Local conference, sponsored by the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Conference organizers are calling, “An immersion into the art of community engagement.” The agenda features a diverse roster of journalists including: Marty Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post, Carrie Brown of the new CUNY social journalism program, Sarah Glover who works with NBC’s 11 local stations, Mandy Jenkins of Storyfull, Amy Mitchell of the Pew Research Center, Ju Don Roberts of LifePosts, Elaine Chen of WNYC and Cole Goins of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Building trust, collaborating with the public and deepening relationships between journalists and community is both an art and a science, and the conference will feature terrific speakers who draw from both those sectors to design more community-driven media. Continue reading

Four Lessons in Local News Innovation from Brick City Live

How one local journalist is rewriting the story of her city and rethinking the role of local news.

Andaiye Taylor is one of the most innovative and thoughtful journalism entrepreneurs I have ever met. Her local new site, Brick City Live, is just getting off the ground, but in the year that I have known her I’ve been constantly impressed by her creativity and sense of experimentation.

Taylor, who has a master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School, and was a fellow at the City University of New York’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, is a fourth generation Newark resident. She has also had a long career in digital advertising, including as a product manager and director of business development at MediaMath, director of content marketing at Bitly, and her current position as director of content marketing at Rubicon Project. For Taylor, journalism and stories should be engines for helping create a better Newark, one of New Jersey’s largest and most diverse cities.

Here are four great ideas Taylor is testing out at Brick City Live.

1) Brick City Bucks — building community loyalty in journalism and small businesses.

Brick City Bucks is a membership and loyalty program which Taylor just launched as a pilot last month and the response has been overwhelming. The program is free for readers of Brick City Live, once they sign up they get a membership card in the mail that entitles them to discounts and deals across the city. Local businesses pay to be part of the program where they get listed in a special directory, are featured in a rotating ad on the homepage, and are included in a weekly deals newsletter Taylor sends out to members. The program puts great deals in the hands of readers and gives people a regular reason to check back in at the site, and it gives local businesses the chance to secure a coveted spot in people’s wallets and inboxes. Continue reading

A New Crowdfunding Campaign Connects Community, Small Businesses and Solutions Journalism

small biz survive logo-2

The Lo-Down, a six-year-old community news site and monthly magazine on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, just launched a very smart crowdfunding pitch. They are asking their community to help fund a one-year reporting project on the struggles of small businesses in their neighborhood.

Here is why I think this is clever:

Listening to Community:

The project was sparked by feedback from local residents who were worried about preserving the unique local character of their area. “Small businesses are the heart and soul of the Lower East Side, but they are endangered,” the team writes. By listening carefully to their community Ed Litvak, Traven Rice and The Lo-Down Team were able to tap into the passions of their readers but also meet specific needs. Thus, the crowdfunding campaign is also a community building effort, inviting more people more deeply into the reporting process.

collage2Connecting with Advertisers:

At the same time, this work helps shine a spotlight on the small businesses across the Lower East Side, many of whom are also advertisers on the site. The editors are not giving advertisers any preferential treatment or coverage as part of the project, but just by shining a spotlight on the challenges of local entrepreneurs they are helping connect residents and businesses. In addition, Litvak and Rice have structured the crowdfunding rewards with both residents and local businesses in mind. A number of local shops donated rewards for donors and other businesses have been stepping up to contribute to the campaign.

Buy Local (News):

Finally, the focus of the campaign gives the editors a chance to talk about themselves as a small business, reminding local people about what it costs to do the great journalism they do. Building on the interest in buying local, they can illustrate how small businesses across their area — included themselves — need community investment to survive.

Solutions Journalism and Community Engagement:

The project builds on years of terrific reporting by The Lo-Down on changes in the neighborhood. Since they were founded in 2009 The Lo-Down team have been documenting contentious real-estate, land use, and housing debates. However, with this project, Litvak and Rice are applying a solutions journalism approach to the reporting. If funded, this project will help strengthen their capacity to do this kind of ground-level reporting and give them the flexibility to test events and engagement activities with local residents.

Judging by the initial response — they raised 40% of their goal in the first two days of the campaign — the project has struck a nerve.

If you live or work around the Lower East Side, you should support their work. The Lo-Down is part of our journalism sustainability project at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and we have kicked in $5,000 in matching funds for the project. This is the second campaign one of our partner sites has run with Beacon, a platform that is specifically built for crowdfunding journalism. The team at Beacon have been great partners, working with local sites.

If your community is facing similar issues and challenges, this crowdfunding model could easily be duplicated in other cities.

See our earlier posts for more crowdfunding advice from local newsrooms and independent media makers.

Losing Our History: Link Rot and Local News


“If you work in a newsroom today, the legacy of your born-digital content is probably at risk… If you run a digital news business, one of your greatest competitive advantages is going 404 every day.” In a post on how broken and dead links are dismantling parts of our history, Ryan Thornburg of UNC writes that the story of our generation “is being written in digital sand” as pages disappear and links break.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is studying how to better preserve born digital news and information in North Carolina (the Knight Foundation and the Reynolds Journalism Institute are also working on this), but this is something we should all care deeply about.

Melody Kramer recently wrote about the potential of archives as tools for community engagement and possible revenue streams. Melody’s post sparked a much longer post from Steve Buttry with a series of really interesting ideas for how local news organizations could leverage their old content. See also these resources from a training I held on news archives last year.

This is an excerpt from the Local Fix, our weekly newsletter on journalism sustainability and community engagement. Subscribe here.