The theme of CUNY’s “New Business Models for News” summit didn’t emerge contextually throughout the day. It was staring everyone in the face from the multiple monitors spread throughout the newsroom taken over by about 125 industry thinkers and leaders yesterday. It was this:
“Do what you do best. Link to the rest”
Linking in this case could be the literal A HREF hyperlink, but was often also about thinking about new ways to focus on the core and find ways to either jettison non-core (leaving it to others to pick it up) or find links through outsourcing, freelancing and mobilizing armies of bloggers and citizen journalists.
Jeff Jarvis, the chief provocateur for the day and organizer of the summit, set the tone early. “There won’t be any silver bullets today,” he cautioned. “If there were, we’d have already used them.”
The goal of the day was to provide an opportunity to start an intentional and ongoing conversation about how to rethink the business model for news gathering and reporting, largely at daily newspapers, but also in television and in national niche media. How do you take a business that is built on the scarcity model – there’s only one or two newspapers per town, allowing for the growth of eight- and nine-digit annual revenue streams - and rethink it for an age of information-ubiquity?
I won’t even attempt a blow-by-blow of the day when so much of it is available for watching and reading on the News Innovation web site. Also check out the contemporaneous Twitter stream. But here are some random highlights that jump out from my notes:
Edward Roussel of The Telegraph: If you’re a newspaper company, your technology sucks. Outsource it!
Dave Morgan, formerly of Tacoda: It’s time for newspapers to face reality. It’s a market problem, a business model problem and a cost problem. “Prepare for disassembly.” Newspapers, he said, need to disaggregate and start thinking about reporting, distribution, ad sales and direct marketing, printing and digital as different businesses and treath them accordingly.
Morgan on leveraging the existing structure: Newspapers have the best marketing and sales organizations in their markets. They could become strong local ad agencies if they’re untethered. Printing is either an area of opportunity – if newspaper do a whole lot more of it – or an albatross, that they should outsource.
Morgan on Digital: Making digital a sidecar to the newspapers is killing digital. Only divided (as businesses) can newspapers and digital endure.
Michael Rosenblum, Rosenblum TV: Both in the larger session and in the break-out, Rosenbloom hammered at the notion that it was absolute folly for newspapers to hire any journalists who were not absolutely adept at the full suite of digital reporting skills, including photography and videography.
Adam Davidson, NPR and creator of the excellent Planet Money: Respect people’s intelligence.
Samir Arora, Glam: News organizations need to be curators of content. The network has more value to the consumer than the brand.
Upendra Shardanand, Daylife. Before long, everyone will be a news publisher. How can you offer the best navigation of the world beyond your own content? News organizations need to do a better job of curating the world around their content.
Jay Rosen, NYU: There is a wealth of information available that your connected and interested users would be happy to share with you to make your product better. Publications that get to this point start their days with inboxes full of great ideas. How to make this happen? 1. Be two-way in your approach to reporting. Invite contributions. 2. Be clear that you need people to help you and that you will use their contributions.
More to come on the topic and goals of the day, but it was an excellent first step. Thanks to CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and, of course, Jeff Jarvis.