Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Steiger Speaks at All Things D

In case you didn't have the $5,000 it cost to attend, the folks who put on the All Things Digital conference earlier this month have now posted some of the interviews and presentations, including this intriguing match-up of Paul Steiger of ProPublica and Richard Rosenblatt of Demand Media.

Warning: The full video goes on for 35 minutes. But if you've got the time to spare, it's a great exploration of the two contrasting business models -- Demand Media, driven with ruthless efficiency to produce only content that its algorithms predict will turn and profit, and nonprofit ProPublica, with its commitment to digging up stories that have broader impact on society.

It was nice to see Steiger, formerly the top editor of The Wall Street Journal, making the case for nonprofit journalism. It still doesn't seem to come naturally for him. But he does stand firm, despite some mild cajoling by moderator Kara Swisher to admit that he doesn't like having to accept philanthropy from millionaires.

Example: Asked if he was disheartened about the state of journalism, Steiger replied: "I'm really excited. We're in the first inning." And asked if he thought ProPublica's brand of public service journalism ever could be put into a profitable package, he replied: "Conceivably. But I can't think of what it is."

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