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Meet the New Media Makers

Is it important for news to survive – or news organizations? See today’s New York Times for a sampling of opinions.

Many news organizations are going to fail this year. But I believe local and regional news vacuums are going to be filled – and filled robustly. Why? Because J-Lab is already seeing the various ways that hyperlocal news start-ups are creating news Web sites for communities that have little or no available media. When communities are not being covered, people are starting to gather and report local news themselves.

J-Lab will soon introduce you to these New Media Makers in a major video toolkit. You’ll meet the people launching these projects and hear them talk about their ethical dilemmas, the civic impact of their efforts and how they fit in a new media ecosystem.

Some of these New Media Makers are amateur journalists; some are professionals. Some sell ads, others receive grants, and others work as volunteer journalists.

You got a taste of their thinking today from Ed Fouhy, who helped J-Lab produce and narrate these videos. In today’s Times, he liberally quotes the people we interviewed for our videos.

For many of these New Media Makers, an opinion blog is not their aspiration. “We’re trying to produce what used to be a newspaper,” said Christine Yeres, managing editor of the J-Lab funded in Chappaqua, N.Y. “I think we get the readership that we do because … it is professional. It’s been gone over very carefully.”

It is on this new terrain that old journalism values – accuracy, independence, and objectivity – are combining with new journalism conventions. Where Big-J journalists excel at covering communities from the outside-in, many of these New Media Makers are crafting the models for how to cover communities from the inside-out.

“Sometimes, we want to be the New York Times and sometimes we want to be the church bulletin,” says Susie Pender, Yeres’ co-editor.

Deerfield Forum founder Maureen Mann knows that some people will disagree, but “I’m proud of that” thinking, she says.

What I see happening around the country raises, for me, a fresh question: Are we dealing with more than broken business models for Big-J journalism?

Is the journalism broken, too?

(Want a copy of New Media Makers when it’s ready? E-mail


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