Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Day At CUNY

It wasn't the whole day -- I had to head back to DC mid-afternoon -- but I was at Jeff Jarvis' NewBiz Conference long enough to get a full dose of the energy and possibilities for new ways to support great journalism.

For those uninitiated in Jarvis' work: Jarvis and his helpers have spent a great deal of time and effort building new business models that might replace newspapers as primary producers of news.

Jarvis' pride and joy are Hyperlocal and New News Organization. The models play out a deeply researched but debatable set of assumptions to the conclusion that old-fashioned news beat coverage (or something recognizable) can be underwritten by a fully for-profit business.

The work is to be applauded. But to my disappointment, Jarvis today gave short shrift to his work on a nonprofit model, barely mentioning it in his remarks. Why? Jarvis is an evangelist for for-profit models, and I think it just isn't his thing.

But I hope that in the future he'll talk more about the role of nonprofits as contributors and partners within the news ecosystem. In fact, his own work on the for-profit New News Organization acknowledges the role nonprofits can play -- it includes a revenue line item of $35,000-a-year from a "donation system for watchdog journalism." Note to Jarvis: That's exactly the role nonprofits are built to play.

Jarvis did get a friendly reminder of the potential for nonprofits from David Cohn, founder of Spot.Us and a helper in organizing the conference. During the Q-and-A session, Cohn suggested to Jarvis that non-profits should not be "ghettoized" by the CUNY business models.

"There are ways for-profits, nonprofits to partner, and that keeps costs down," he said.

1 comment:

  1. It was great to meet you in person. Hope your travels to D.C. were pleasent.