Tag Archives: Leonard Witt

How to keep eating and doing journalism

“When the going gets weird, the weird get going.turn pro.”

–Hunter S. Thompson

Rick Edmonds of Poynter has revisited the idea of government subsidies for journalism, concluding that he’d hate for the possibility “to get throttled with a dismissive, ‘There’s a reason we can’t do that.'”
In these weird times, funding alternatives aren’t so far-fetched. Ralph Whitehead of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst said in January that the market may be failing journalism:

“What may be emerging today, however, is a serious case of market failure that can’t be – and must not be – fixed by government intervention: the failure of the private sector to provide broadly inclusive journalism that is both comprehensive and reliable enough to meet the needs of a democracy.”

Now, four months later as classified revenue vanishes into thin air daily, it’s past time to broaden the debate. Not only are journalists losing their jobs in a wholesale way that can’t be ignored even as we try to focus on the positive; whole communities are losing their voices. Volunteer blogs can’t fill all the gaps.
Ed Wasserman, Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University, awhile back wrote about alternative funding ideas in The Miami Herald. His plan, micropayments for journalism, has some big holes. Read more about it here. And Leonard Witt down in Georgia has his own interesting, and perhaps more sustainable, ideas about how to pay for journalism, through community networks.
And then keep thinking broadly about solutions, for yourself, your colleagues and the industry, about other ways to eat while still providing information to others. Hope and work for A New Deal.


Of networks, soccer parents and representative journalism

“Network weaving is not just ‘networking’, nor schmoozing. Weaving brings people together for projects, initially small, so they can learn to collaborate. Through that collaboration they strengthen the community and increase the knowledge available in it.”
Valdis Krebs and June Holley

Leonard Witt down in Georgia has some interesting ideas about representative journalism. He’s worked out the money ideas of hiring professional journalists for small interest groups of 1,000 or so. The quote above is from a PDF paper linked at his site, explaining the role of a “network weaver.” He advances the idea that a weaver, or marketer, or community builder, is necessary to make connections among groups interested in particular information. He says that job enables the funding of high-quality journalism.

One example he uses: the long-established carpet-making community in Dalton, Ga. I can imagine another similar one: the BMW community of Upstate South Carolina. I searched around quickly to see if anyone was already there, and found a post on a national blog that validated what any soccer parent knows: The best news comes from the soccer sidelines. Confirming it, spreading it, reporting it in the online community facilitated by a weaver is the next step.