Left Bay’s Musings on the Media

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Tools For Saving Journalism

"Tipjars" were one option used by Mother Jones Magazine for to encourage contributions from readers.

I attended a conference over the weekend at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism titled “Tools for Saving Journalism.” There were about 125 of us in all, and I gotta say, it felt a little like attending a wake. It seemed to a person, everyone was worried, and even fearful, what lay next for journalists.

For instance, Alex Cohen, the host of NPR’s daily news program “Day to Day,” and who moderated a session called “Active Innovators,” began by saying she’ll know soon what it’s like to be unemployed: This coming Friday will be the last for Day to Day, a victim of budget cuts at NPR. Later in the day, we heard how the union representing journalists and others at Hearst Corporation’s San Francisco Chronicle voted to allow the company to cut more than 150 jobs, in a desperation attempt to save the paper. Ouch!

Yet like at any funeral, there was plenty of hope for the future. David Cohn, of Spot.us explained how the public can now “commission” journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories. Monika Bauerlein from Mother Jones Magazine talked about their use of a “tip jar” so readers can show their appreciation for an article they read. Andy Bowers from Slate and a former NPR reporter, talked about the podcasts that slate has created with NPR.

Also speaking was Cynthia Typaldos, the CEO of the start-up “Kachingle,” which is an online monetizing solution for content sites. I’m now consulting for Kachingle and will write more about them in a future post.

Some of my favorite quotes:

Why journalists should get over their fears about becoming business people: “When you’ve knocked on the door of a parent whose kid has been shot and killed, making cold calls should be easy.”

“Journalism is the first line in history.”

The three biggest stories missed by journalists in the last 40 years: The truth behind the Vietnam War, the false government “evidence” of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq; the economic meltdown.

“It’s a lot cheaper to pay for a good newspaper than a bad war.”

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