Sunday, October 31, 2010

Community News Sites: Alive if Unprofitable


A new report from J-Lab's Jan Schaffer offers a straightforward look at the status of community sites funded through the John L. and James S. Knight Foundation. This is a well-designed report that can work as teaching or research material.

The report's colorful touches will help to keep undergrads interested.

Titled New Voices: What Works, the 36-page report does just what it suggests. It identifies some of the aspects that have worked and some that haven't since the organization began in 2005 to seed start-up sites to supplement news and information in their communities.
Simply put, we examined what worked and what didn’t, what made for robust sites or led to disappointment.
The J-Lab, the Institute for Interactive Journalism, offers its own summary of the report that you can read here. You can download the report in pdf form as well.

Among the findings in a section called Ten Key Takeaways are points familiar to those in CCJIG who have been investigating citizen journalism functions. Among them:
  • Most volunteer journalists don't last long after training. Fewer than one in 10 will become regular contributors.
  • University projects that rely on students need to find ways to keep their momentum even when students are not in school.
  • While some sites are finding ways to sustain themselves, a business model has yet to emerge to cover salaries and reap profits.

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