Text messages are becoming an important medium in parts of the world where less people have Internet access and smartphones. There are various services, projects and radio programs that are using SMS as a way to interact with their audiences in places like Afghanistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe. So we decided to host a live chat on Twitter about the use of SMS and texting technology by journalists, news organizations, radio shows and more around the world. Many projects are using SMS to help connect communities to important news and information, and to create a feedback loop for programs. On Nov....more »
Idea Lab is a group blog by innovators who are reinventing community news for the Digital Age.
Each Idea Lab blogger is a winner of the Knight News Challenge grant to reshape community news.Learn more about the Knight News Challenge »
CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- After the announcement of the Knight News Challenge winners came the first "plenary session" at the Future of News and Civic Media Conference. The topic is "Crowdbuilding," with the following panelists: Chris Csikszentmihalyi is director of the MIT Center for Future Civic Media. Gabriella Coleman is an anthropologist who studies the ethics of online collaboration. Karim Lakhani is an assistant professor at Harvard Business School who studies distributed innovation systems. Chris Csikszentmihalyi, MIT: The term crowdsourcing has been to the detriment of the news business. "Debian" is a collaborative GNU/Linus release that is powerful enough for...more »
CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- I am at MIT for the announcement of the latest round of News Challenge winners. First up is the president and CEO of the Knight Foundation, Alberto Ibarguen. (Note: The Twitter widget on Idea Lab is now a feed taken from the conference's hashtag: #fncm.) Alberto Ibarguen, Knight Foundation CEO: We didn't have a clue as to how to deal with the changes in the media business, so we started the News Challenge. We've had thousands of applicants. It was designed to be open, and was meant for news and information to be shared in a...more »
In the search for new business models for community news sites, many experimental advertising platforms have been used. MinnPost has its Real-Time ads widget. Printcasting is trying out MediaBids. And Spot.us is planning something called Community-Centered Ads, where people could view an ad or fill out an advertiser's survey in exchange for credits they can use to pay for original reporting. So here's a question to Idea Lab bloggers and readers: What other experiments have you seen in local sites running advertising that's beyond the norm? What is working and what has failed? Share your thoughts and observations in the...more »
The big news last week was that Knight-funded startup EveryBlock was bought by MSNBC.com for an undisclosed sum. EveryBlock founder Adrian Holovaty is one of the Idea Lab bloggers, and has been a pioneering programmer/journalist at the Journal-World in Lawrence, Kan., and at the Washington Post. There had been some online scuttlebutt around the way EveryBlock released its open source code, and then was bought by MSNBC.com, so I thought it would be a good idea to go straight to the source, with a Q&A with Holovaty himself. The following interview took place over email, and included a couple questions...more »
With some fanfare, the Knight Foundation and Aspen Institute announced a new Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy a couple years ago, with the idea of finding out just what needs were being served -- and what was lacking. The problem with many of these types of "commissions" is that a lot of important people go behind closed doors and decide what's best for us, the public, and then we can complain afterward just how wrong they are. In this case, the Commission decided to do the opposite, and get input from the public...more »
Here at MediaShift Idea Lab, you get to hear directly from all the innovators who received grants from the Knight Foundation in the News Challenge. Now, you have the chance to join them by coming up with an idea that will help connect communities with technology and the Internet and help create the next generation of community news. Yes, times are tough for newspapers and traditional media, as the shift continues toward digital media. But Idea Lab represents hope for change in journalism, new ideas that will help lead us into a journalism future that will include more voices and...more »
CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- I am in the swanky Stata Center at MIT for the conference on "The Future of Civic Media," put on by the new Center for Future Civic Media. Nearly all the Idea Lab bloggers are here in attendance as the Knight Foundation is using this gathering to help all News Challenge winners get to know each other and collaborate more. It's also a chance for this new Center at MIT (which got $5 million in funding from Knight) to show some off some of its early work and thinking. Mitch Resnick, another Idea Lab blogger who...more »
Hello from sunny Las Vegas! I am here for the E&P Interactive Media Conference at the Rio Hotel, but also to welcome the next round of winners in the Knight Foundation's 21st Century News Challenge. These folks will soon be blogging here on Idea Lab, and it's quite a group of winners. (To see the whole list of winners, go here, and for Knight's press release on the winners, check this out.) Knight Foundation CEO Alberto Ibarguen (pictured below) announced the winners at the conference this morning. I think the most exciting aspect of the next round of winners is...more »
Here's your question for the week on Idea Lab. Many people think that anonymity is important online for people who are whistle-blowers or would not speak out if they were identified. But the flipside of that is that many people use the protection of anonymity to lob insults and ad hominem attacks at opponents and turn civil conversations into flame wars. What happens if you try to pin down people and make them use real names in forums? Does that bring more civility? That's certainly the case at Front Porch Forum, where people must use their first and last name,...more »
I'm going to be posting weekly questions here on Idea Lab to spark discussion by the various authors, as well as our community of readers. This week I'd like to follow up on the recent theme of new business models for local news sites. Many small hyper-local community sites start up with Google AdSense ads and other automated, quick ways of bringing in a small revenue stream. Eventually, though, they need to make more money than that, and must turn to local businesses to advertise. But it's difficult to entice small businesses online, as they are more likely to employ...more »
Reuters has been experimenting with mobile journalism, testing out a way for reporters to file stories from the field using videophones. The news service has given reporters a Mobile Journalism Toolkit, including a Nokia N95, a fold-up keyboard and directional microphones. The idea is that reporters could do video, photo, audio and text reports without having to use a laptop. This effort mirrors an initiative by Ganett to outfit "mojos" with gear to report in multiple media from the field. But if you peruse Reuters' special website to see the early reports from Reuters mojos, they are uneven, with blurry...more »
A few weeks back, I heard gunshots outside my window. It was pretty scary, and reminded me of my urban environment here in Potrero Hill, San Francisco. But where could I turn to get the story on what happened? Was someone killed? Do police know what happened? In the past, I might have heard something about it on the local TV news or radio news, or perhaps read something in the local newspaper. But in this case, no one was hurt or killed, so there was nothing to see in any of the bigger media outlets in my local area....more »
I think newspapers, blogs, and magazines should all be doing audio versions. I grew up enjoying and listening to audiobooks and now I don't have the same option for the short form content that I prefer to consume.
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