Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chicago News Cooperative an encouraging development, but raises questions

I'm excited to see the flurry of initiatives on the local news front, especially the latest news from Chicago.

Who knows how the Chicago News Cooperative will turn out, but it's great to see this kind of experimentation.

On the other hand, such efforts raise some questions for me:

  • Why don't existing newspapers go into partnership with The New York Times the way these start-ups are doing? Sure, they might worry about losing circulation to the Times, but couldn't the future look like some form of amalgam news product, in print and online?
  • Do we really want non-profits benefiting one for profit newspaper, in this case The Times, instead of making its material available for all comers? (Disclosure: I'm on the advisory board of the Texas Tribune, which will do the latter.) Sure, the Times is going to pay for the content it receives, but will it continue the relationship if the print material isn't exclusive. Essentially, the Times is being subsidized because the cooperative will be able to operate at a lower cost because of its non profit status.
  • I'm delighted to see the multi platform approach of the Chicago effort, but doesn't it seem like visuals - photo in particular - are being given short shrift in these efforts? Photo is such a central part of reflecting a community and involving a community.
  • Why aren't we seeing the same kind of creativity on the business side? Have people given up on the prospect of making local news/information efforts profitable? I hope not. I believe it would be better if the experimentation extended to how to make money, something beyond charitable contributions, etc.
I'm sure there are other questions, but these are some of mine. I'd be interested in hearing what others think.

91 comments:

  1. John, it seems like you're posting pretty much every day. It's enjoyable and informative, but I wonder if it's an effort. Thanks for doing it.
    Robert MacMillan
    reporter, Reuters News

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  2. Thanks for the note, Robert. My posting in part depends on what I'm working on at the time. When I'm consulting, I find it difficult to post and I can't generally share what I'm learning or doing in those instances. Other times I'm working on a video or a speech or an article and I find I need to concentrate. I'd actually like to post more often and about more topics. What I'm seeing with the technology today is that a single person could produce an incredibly rich multi-media response to the world if he had the time...

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  3. John, thanks again for such a brilliant post and analysis. What if we form co op some day? Doing lots of research works.



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