Monthly Archives: June 2009

Nothing will work, but everything might

The Bloggers and Journos group of Social Media Charlotte held a mini-camp on the future of journalism Sunday at Amelie’s Bakery.

Meanwhile, Twitter and Youtube and Flickr were documenting the aftermath of the Iranian elections.

With that buzz in the background, journalists David Boraks and Dave Cohn spoke to the group about how they’re experimenting with new ways to report and pay for news. David Boraks runs DavidsonNews.net, a for-profit hyperlocal news site for the college town of Davidson, and Dave Cohn runs nonprofit Spot.Us, funded by a Knight Foundation News Challenge grant, which enables community-funded journalism one story at a time. David B. has used his many years of experience to bring traditional journalism values to his own community reporting via WordPress; Dave Cohn has been advocating for an end to the bloggers vs. journalists divide for several years.

Representative of those in the room at Amelie’s: Glenn Burkins of QCityMetro, a news site for African Americans in Charlotte, with many years of traditional newspaper experience, and contributors and founders of CLTBlog, a visual blogging and news collaboration site. Many of those with CLTBlog are new to journalism yet passionate about sharing information.

The strength of the meeting: The exchange of ideas and encouragement among people trying a variety of funding methods to share information with their communities. Dave Cohn was dialing in via Skype from the San Francisco area, but excluding his participation, everyone was local.

Charlotte has not been a media or startup hub like Seattle, San Francisco or New York, but somehow this meeting felt like a tipping point in local experiments in journalism. On a national level, the funding of journalism has been the focus of numerous discussions, blog posts and conferences, so much so that the phrase “future of journalism” has become a bit of an inside joke. What was remarkable about Suite 101 at Amelie’s on Sunday was that it was filled with local people working every day to figure out not the future of journalism, but the present of journalism, as David Boraks pointed out.

If it’s happening in Charlotte, I’ll bet it’s happening in similar communities across the country.

Like Matt Waite so elegantly said awhile back: “Build something or STFU.”

These folks listened.

And as Clay Shirky said about journalism back in March, “Nothing will work. But everything might.”

Further reading:
Paying for News.
J-Lab advice, worth repeating.
A New Deal for journalism.
Should we tax to pay for journalism?
How to keep eating and doing journalism

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