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Mls Preso March 1 2010


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How can community foundations and other local organizations think about creating hyperlocal sites that truly engage the community, both as participants and as creators and partners? This preso offers some ideas for discussion.

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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Mls Preso March 1 2010

  1. 1. New Models for community media Susan Mernit Founder,, Web Strategist, Center for Investigative Reporting, Circuit Rider, Knight Community Information Challenge
  2. 2. New Models for community media This session is about  How non-traditional & grassroots organizations & individuals  Are filling the information gap for local news & discussion  How these sites are different that what came before  Things to think about as you work to support and create community  Information sites that support informed, engaged communities.
  3. 3. Twitter: World’s breaking news source Twitter is our back fence & our tribal drumbeat
  4. 4. Local video reaches across the world We don’t need foreign correspondents anymore
  5. 5. News happens—and is shared– in REAL time Flickr: February 27, Saturday am: Chilean earthquake 8.8, 4:34 am
  6. 6. Via search & reputation, news is both grass- roots & filtered—almost instantaneously
  7. 7. Implications to think about for community media, grassroots Old media is DYING Local is now global Eyewitnesses tell their stories The foreign correspondent is obsolete Mobile phones =Information workhorses But how about the truly local level?
  8. 8. There are some problems:  Local news as we know it is NOT being delivered by most newspapers  Citizens often do NOT get the information they need to make informed decisions on issues and decide if they want to take action  Many of the issues that local people care about are not being adequately discussed—online—and off
  9. 9. And some solutions— New hybrids are emerging that offer models for community engagement, storytelling, social change
  10. 10. These new sites are often  Very grassroots  Blend volunteers & professionals  Are web and mobile-based  Non-profit or mission-driven  Born & bred in their communities  Potentially transformative Do you think media is a social change/capacity-building tool in an informed democracy? I do.
  11. 11. Examples  Oakland Local: New news non-profit with 35 non-profit community partners  West Seattle Blog: Definitive local media for West Seattle, WA  Baristanet: Montclair, NJ community news & advertising  “progressive civic lifestyle in New York City”  The loop: Westchester’s town square  Chicago Current: Local politics and news  Deerfield Forum: volunteer news
  12. 12. Oakland Local: Case study in community engagement, partners, volunteering
  13. 13. Collaborate & Translate
  14. 14. Oakland Local Today  5 months old  25,000 unique visitors month  35+ non-profit partners  Staffed by editor/publisher, senior producer, senior editor  15 freelancers  25 volunteers  Funded by J-Lab New Voices Grant, $17,000  Project of 501c3, Center for Media Change  Supported by Harnisch Foundation, GW Williams Institute Mission: Build capacity so diverse voices will be heard
  15. 15. A core staff works with volunteer writers, editors & partners Revenue & Entrepreneurship Partners include  Paid staff works part/time  Ella Baker Center, Bay Localize,  Volunteers are trained & supported Urban Habitat, EBASE  Partnerships with local non-profits  New America Media, Center for  produce blogs, articles, videos, photos  Investigative Reporting, KALW,    Spot.usraffic, uniques Emphasis on user guidelines, quality,  diversity Cost to date: under $20,000
  16. 16. How it is working? Metrics: Past 30 days Unique visitors: 26,000 Page views: 77,000 Time on site: 1.47 min average Bounce: 48% Geographic locations: Oakland, San Francisco Social media data: Twitter: 1,000 + followers Facebook: 2,350 fans Use flickr, vimeo, Youtube, etc. Funders: J-Lab, Harnisch Foundation, Renaissance Institute, G.W. Williams Institute  Most trafficked independent news destination in East Bay  Live meet-ups average 25-40 attendees  Will sell sponsorships & advertising in Q 2
  17. 17. Oakland Local Approach  Focus on community relationships & partners  Blend of grassroots & quality reporting  Collaboration-focused  Teach skills to partners  Allow wide range of views  Issue, not place-driven  Integral roles for local orgs & volunteers  Updates daily, translates
  18. 18. What have we learned about community & volunteers?  Doing with, not for  Everyone is a partner  We aim to serve  Face to face relationships  Wide range of views  Volunteers have different motives  Maintain being inclusive  Respectful
  19. 19. A trend toward community media  As news sites falter, a new model emerges  Community foundations are NATURAL partners  Advocacy groups can use your platform, but you are NOT an advocacy group  Focus on issues not neighborhoods  Be lean  Be wary of third party vendors—and consultants  Engage and empower community  Plan, plan, plan—but execute as well Build a platform for independent voices to be heard, issues examined
  20. 20. Issues & Challenges  Do you need a separate organization?  How do you staff this?  Who enforces standards?  What is a community manager and where do I get one?  What is open source & why do I have to care?  How do I measure impact?  How do I set goals?  How do I focus the effort?  What does starting small look like?  How do we get training & support?  What does being a translator & connector mean? You CAN do this—and it will make a big difference when you do
  21. 21. Putting new models to work Work with Knight Circuit Riders: Resources dedicated to your projects Attend Knight Boot Camp. USC, March 2010: Working sessions to build skills, planning Create cohort groups & working teams across grantee pool to address problems, questions via private groups, monthly or quarterly calls and webinars Connect with local hyperlocal information community: Build a “media map” or audit of news & information players in your area—where can your project facilitate discussion, taking action? Build something for everyone: Engage people of color and low-income communities in the conversation at the start Set goals and measure—but plan for success—small, incremental steps are better than one big bang
  22. 22. Oakland Local loves to share community strategies Keep in touch Twitter: Susanmernit Email: Site: