Help Kickstart the NYC Pizza Project

Posted on | April 16, 2014 | No Comments

Check out The New York Pizza Project on Kick­starter, and become a backer. It’s near and dear to my heart. My son Nick John­son is among the cre­ators. But it’s also a phe­nom­e­nal print doc­u­men­tary of one of New York’s most emblem­atic enter­prises: the pizza shop. The pho­tos, inter­views, even video for future projects, are all done. They just need funds now for print­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion of a cof­fee table book. The project takes an anthro­po­log­i­cal view of the cul­ture that sur­rounds and infuses NYC pizza shops. After all, what would the city be with­out them?

Writer’s Lifeguard: Good News Bears

Posted on | April 14, 2014 | No Comments

By Jules Older, April 14, 2014

Here’s what’s going right for Life­guards today…

Shot Boom Score , a kid’s book by New Zealand broadcaster/author/publisher/cricketer Justin Brown, has made the Sto­ry­lines 2014 Notable Books List.

Jules Older

Jules Older

In Marin County, Cal­i­for­nia, Dick Jor­dan has a piece on south­east Alaska on Mar­inTV. You can see it here.

In Vermont’s fabled North­east King­dom, Jerry Johnson’s Up the Creek With­out a Sad­dle is now in eBook and iBook versions.

You call her Loser; she spells it Win­ner. From Lon­don, Gill Mar­tin reports on the ski tri­umphs of Mother England’s journalists.

Cindy Hirschfeld is now editor-in-chief of Aspen Mag­a­zine and group edi­tor for Vail Resorts’ Epic Life mag­a­zine. [This gives me par­tic­u­lar plea­sure since, back in 2010, she was feel­ing down so long, it felt like up to her. I’ve attached Writ­ers Life­guard 33 in case you missed Cindy’s story.

San Fran­cis­can Kelly Carter writes, “I’m skit­ing from Wash­ing­ton, D.C., where last night I gave a pet travel talk at National Geographic’s head­quar­ters to pro­mote my new book, The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel, Nat Geo’s first pet travel guide­book. Good Morn­ing Amer­ica recently spent two days in San Fran­cisco with me and my pooch Lucy to shoot a dog-friendly travel seg­ment that airs soon. Keep your eye out for it!”

Here’s another kind of tri­umph. From Ver­mont, Mary Kerr writes, “I depart this Sun­day for Kabul. My friends in Kabul tell me their ela­tion over the num­bers of young and old, men and women, defy­ing the Tal­iban by vot­ing in this pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is beyond descrip­tion. Their future is bright­en­ing! I am so excited to think I will be there for a five-week period. I will be teach­ing at SOLA — School of Leadership-Afghanistan. I sus­pect I will learn more from these young Afghan women than they from me, inshallah.”

Leslie Anthony left snowy British Colum­bia for sunny San Fran­cisco to receive Canada’a pres­ti­gious North­ern Lights Award for his fea­ture writing.

Then, there’s this from new Life­guard, Sharon Spence Lieb. Bet­ter sit down before you read it…

I was thrilled when North Amer­i­can Travel Jour­nal­ists awarded me as a Final­ist in their 2014 Travel Writ­ing Com­pe­ti­tion. But it’s the story behind the award that I want to share.

After 28 bliss­ful years trav­el­ling the world with my photographer/filmmaker hus­band War­ren Lieb, he became ter­mi­nally ill. My Indi­ana Jones, who hiked to 17,000 feet in Peru, filmed wars out of fighter jets, kayaked with killer whales and dove to 100 feet with giant manta rays… became a home­bound invalid who could barely walk.

I stopped trav­el­ling, stopped writ­ing and devoted myself to his care. Then, a strange invi­ta­tion came from Can­cun Vis­i­tors Bureau; please come write about The Day of the Dead ceremony.

’No thanks,’ I said. ‘I hate death. My hus­band is dying.’

’You must come,’ they said. ‘There is some­one you must meet.

I got 24/7 nurses for War­ren and went to Can­cun. At an evening can­dlelit cer­e­mony, in an under­ground cave, I encoun­tered a shaman. Hun­dreds gath­ered for his incan­ta­tions, his bless­ings. I crawled on my knees along the wet jun­gle floor, stooped at his feet like a cry­ing child, and asked him to help me over­come my fear of death and loss.

His mes­sage gave me great com­fort. I wrote a story, about what I learned, Life And Death In Can­cun. After Warren’s death, the story was pub­lished in many outlets.

And won best story of the year from Can­cun Vis­i­tor Bureau, 2013 and then the Final­ist award from NATJA, 2014.”

And finally, from Dublin, Patrick Kin­sella pro­vides an ety­mo­log­i­cal foot­note on the New Zealand word for brag­ging. “In Ire­land, ‘skite’ is a noun, not a verb, and you go on a skite (or ‘a bit of a skite’) with friends to visit many pubs and drink much beer. A skite is the series of events at which much craic is gen­er­ally had. Though there may be later regrets.”

Good work, Life­guards. Write on.

— jules




Independent Book Publishing: Is It the Viable Future for Books?

Posted on | April 13, 2014 | No Comments

By Lee Foster

The steady advance in the prac­tice of “inde­pen­dent book pub­lish­ing,” also called self-publishing in some cir­cles, has been a remark­able and inno­v­a­tive phe­nom­e­non to watch in the last decade.Lee Foster book

Those of us who knew the via­bil­ity of “tra­di­tional book pub­lish­ing” have also observed that decline with some sad­ness. In my own case, I pub­lished a dozen books with tra­di­tional pub­lish­ers and found the expe­ri­ence gen­er­ally sat­is­fac­tory in the ear­lier, golden years.

Tra­di­tional vs inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ing is a chal­leng­ing dilemma with which many mod­ern authors now wres­tle. (I talked recently on this before the Bay Area Inde­pen­dent Pub­lish­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, and video­g­ra­pher Joel Black­well cap­tured a video record. I also talked on this sub­ject before the Bay Area Travel Writ­ers and at the San Fran­cisco Writer’s Conference.)

In 2013, I pub­lished one book inde­pen­dently and one book tra­di­tion­ally. Prob­a­bly all my future books will be inde­pen­dent. What has changed?

Under­stand­ing Tra­di­tional Book Publishing

Before tra­di­tional book pub­lish­ing is dis­missed as an option, it is impor­tant to under­stand what it was, how it func­tioned, and why it once worked well.

Read more here.

Writer’s Lifeguard: Did He Make It?

Posted on | March 10, 2014 | No Comments

By Jules Older, March 10, 2014

A lit­tle over a year ago, in a Writ­ers Life­guard titled Prepa­ra­tion H, I wrote: My goal, my aim, my early res­o­lu­tion for 2013 is to start

Jules Older

Jules Older

mak­ing money again. Check back with me in a year, and I’ll let you know how that worked out.

It’s now next year. So, your ques­tion is, Did he make it?

And my answer is… No, first, let me tell you how I spent the year. I spent it try­ing might­ily to make that res­o­lu­tion work. I sub­mit­ted more, hus­tled more, started blog­ging for dol­lars, and when faced with the choice of doing some­thing for free (as I’m doing now) or for money, I pushed myself to open the door marked CASH.

So, after all that, Did he make it?

He did not. My already pathetic income dropped. Sig­nif­i­cantly dropped. What lies below pathetic? Wretched? Piti­ful? Tragic? By what­ever name, that’s what I earned from writ­ing last year.

Am I embar­rassed by this? Oh, yes. Some­where between embar­rassed and humiliated.

Am I giv­ing up my quest to earn a decent buck from my work? Oh, no. I’m dou­bling down. This year’s res­o­lu­tion is the same as last’s — start mak­ing money again.

Am I opti­mistic? I’m a born opti­mistic fool, so, despite abun­dant evi­dence to the con­trary, yes. I’ll report back again in early 2015.

That’s me. How’s by you? Let us know, and if you don’t want me to share the info with the other Life­guards, just mark it PRIVATE. It shall remain so.

Hope yer well and thriv­ing. As, money aside, is your old friend

— jules

Jules Older (amaz­ingly, no actual rela­tion to Susan Older) is a free­lance travel writer, the author of children’s books, a speaker, a broad­caster, a con­sul­tant and, with Effin Older, the cre­ator of the iPhone/iPad apps: San Fran­cisco Restau­rants, Auck­land (New Zealand) Insider and Kick­ass Gram­mar. Learn more about Jules and Effin here.

Seattle Job: Washington News Council Director

Posted on | March 3, 2014 | No Comments

Wash­ing­ton News Council

Appli­ca­tions are now being accepted for the posi­tion of Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Wash­ing­ton News Coun­cil in Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton. Dead­line: March 15, 2014. Email cover let­ter (not to exceed 750 words) and resume to or mail to WNC, P.O. Box 3672, Seat­tle WA 98124. Call 206.262.9793 with any questions.

“New exec­u­tive direc­tor sought for last U.S. news coun­cil; only gutsy need apply” — San­dra Oshiro, Poyn­ter

“Wash­ing­ton News Coun­cil head John Hamer to retire” — Patti Payne, Puget Sound Busi­ness Journal




The WNC is an inde­pen­dent forum for media ethics founded in 1998. It is the last such orga­ni­za­tion of its kind in the United States, although dozens of press coun­cils exist all over the world. (SEE AIPCE.NET) The WNC’s stated mis­sion is: “To help main­tain pub­lic trust and con­fi­dence in the news media by pro­mot­ing fair­ness, accu­racy and bal­ance and by cre­at­ing a forum where the pub­lic and the news media can engage each other in exam­in­ing stan­dards of jour­nal­is­tic ethics and accountability.”

The WNC’s found­ing Exec­u­tive Direc­tor and now Board Pres­i­dent, John Hamer, has announced that he will retire on April 15, 2014 (his 68th birth­day). He may remain as Pres­i­dent Emer­i­tus at the dis­cre­tion of the WNC Board on a advisory/consulting basis, but the new Exec­u­tive Direc­tor will report directly to the Board.

PLEASE NOTE: The WNC is at a turn­ing point after 15 years of solid and suc­cess­ful oper­a­tions. Finan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity is a chal­lenge. The new Exec­u­tive Direc­tor will need to raise suf­fi­cient funds to sus­tain the Council’s work — includ­ing his/her salary. He/she will have the oppor­tu­nity to “rein­vent” the WNC and take it in new direc­tions, and/or main­tain some cur­rent pro­grams and activ­i­ties. He/she may need to recruit new Board mem­bers, sev­eral of whom are retir­ing as their terms end. He/she may also need to hire a new part-time exec­u­tive assis­tant, as the cur­rent per­son in that posi­tion has a full-time teach­ing com­mit­ment at least through June 2014. He/she may need to work from home, depend­ing on whether funds are ade­quate to pay cur­rent rent of office above Pyra­mid Ale­house near Safeco Field (free park­ing; beer down­stairs; base­ball across street).


“Reinvent/reboot” WNC to be rel­e­vant and effec­tive in new dig­i­tal media age. Work with Board of Direc­tors to review/redefine/revitalize mis­sion and goals.


Take respon­si­bil­ity for fund-raising and devel­op­ing resources to sup­port WNC.
Pre­pare annual bud­get in part­ner­ship with Board Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee.
Sub­mit reg­u­lar finan­cial state­ments to Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee and full Board.


Lead review of WNC’s cur­rent mis­sion, goals, pro­grams and activ­i­ties.
Reeval­u­ate exist­ing Board struc­ture and imple­ment any needed changes.
Sug­gest new direc­tions and activ­i­ties to ful­fill mis­sion as appropriate.


Over­see effec­tive admin­is­tra­tion of WNC office and activ­i­ties.
Hire and man­age staff, con­sul­tants and interns as appro­pri­ate.
Hold quar­terly Board meet­ings and monthly Exec Comm meetings.


Degree in jour­nal­ism, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, man­age­ment or related field.
Expe­ri­ence deal­ing with news media and work­ing jour­nal­ists.
Strong exper­tise in fund-raising and non­profit devel­op­ment.
Solid finan­cial over­sight and budget-management skills.
Orga­ni­za­tional abil­i­ties includ­ing strate­gic plan­ning and tac­tics.
Man­age­ment abil­i­ties to over­see staff/interns/consultants.
Expe­ri­ence work­ing with non­profit Board of Direc­tors mem­bers.
Trans­par­ent and high-integrity lead­er­ship stan­dards and prac­tices.
Strong writ­ten, ver­bal, and dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills.


1. Work with Board of Direc­tors to update and ful­fill WNC’s mis­sion.
2. Raise suf­fi­cient funds to keep WNC sus­tain­able, includ­ing own salary.
3. Over­see day-to-day oper­a­tions of orga­ni­za­tion, staff, and vol­un­teers.
4. Serve as pri­mary spokesper­son to news media and gen­eral pub­lic.
5. Help change com­plaint hear­ings into online dig­i­tal review process.
6. Decide on future of “TAO of Jour­nal­ism” Pledge & Seal project.
7. Deter­mine evo­lu­tion of Online Media Guide (OMG) project.
8. Decide whether to con­tinue award­ing annual WNC schol­ar­ships.
9. Deter­mine whether to con­tinue Media Ethics break­fast series.
10. Pro­vide cre­ative lead­er­ship in 24/7 online dig­i­tal media world.

Patch’s Biggest Blunder: Ignoring Cities

Posted on | January 3, 2014 | No Comments

Posted on 12.26.2013

Guest post by Mer­rill Brown, direc­tor of the school of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and media at Mont­clair State

Merrill Brown

Mer­rill Brown

Uni­ver­sity. A mem­ber of the found­ing team of Court TV and the found­ing Edi­tor in Chief of, Brown advises dig­i­tal media start-ups and is a Ven­ture Part­ner at DFJ Frontier. 

As the man­age­ment and own­er­ship of the hyper­local media ven­ture Patch endure con­tor­tions about the AOL company’s future, there’s an enor­mous amount of pun­ditryForbes con­clud­ing that Patch’s fail­ures are both about its model and about the impos­si­ble nature of suc­ceed­ing in pro­vid­ing dig­i­tal news and infor­ma­tion to local com­mu­ni­ties. Some of it is wise, but most every­one is miss­ing a crit­i­cal point.

That dig­i­tal local media has yet to scale and cre­ate a defin­i­tive new model is about investor appre­hen­sion about all things local, about entre­pre­neur­ial lim­i­ta­tions, and about the fact that too many local media star­tups have to date been under­in­vest­ing in build­ing local adver­tis­ing capa­bil­i­ties. In some ways it’s about one core issue: local media and hyper­local star­tups are miss­ing the audi­ences and rev­enue oppor­tu­ni­ties around serv­ing the entirety of large met­ro­pol­i­tan areas.

Read more of Mer­rill Brown’s Forbes post here.

7 Tumultuous Years for Tribune Newspaper

Posted on | October 8, 2013 | No Comments

Reflec­tions of a Newsosaur


By Alan D. Mutter

Mon­day, Oct. 07, 2013

A direc­tive to cut up to $100 mil­lion in spend­ing at the Tri­bune Co. news­pa­pers is but the lat­est chal­lenge to a group of iconic titles that have been twist­ing in the wind for seven of the most tumul­tuous years ever expe­ri­enced by the pub­lish­ing industry.

The bud­get cuts in store for the Chicago Tri­bune, the Los Ange­les Times and six other dailies pub­lished by the com­pany add to the uncer­tainty, anx­i­ety and inde­ci­sion that have dis­tracted staffers at the pub­li­ca­tions since a series of con­vul­sive – and incon­clu­sive – changes in own­er­ship and man­age­ment com­menced way back in 2006. Sadly, as dis­cussed in a moment, there is still no end in sight.

The tim­ing of the ongo­ing cluster-kerfuffle could not be worse, because the man­agers and employ­ees of the news­pa­pers ought to be spend­ing their days devel­op­ing new prod­ucts, acquir­ing new audi­ences and build­ing new rev­enue streams to meet the abun­dant chal­lenges of the dig­i­tal era.

Instead, they are won­der­ing who will own the com­pany, who will be in charge, what they will be asked to do and what might hap­pen next. Not the least of their con­cerns is whether they will have jobs in the next week, next month or next year. More on this in a moment. First, the background:

The seven-year ordeal for the Tri­bune news­pa­pers began in Sep­tem­ber, 2006, when the pub­licly held com­pany kicked off the process of putting itself up for sale as share­hold­ers feuded over its ebbing stock price.

The year­long hunt for a buyer ended when real estate mogul Sam Zell acquired the com­pany in Decem­ber, 2007, with $13 bil­lion in debt and only $315 mil­lion…. read more here.


Alan D. Mut­ter is per­haps the only CEO in Sil­i­con Val­ley who knows how to set type one let­ter at a time. Mut­ter began his career as a news­pa­per colum­nist and edi­tor at the Chicago Daily News and later rose to City Edi­tor of the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1984, he became No. 2 edi­tor of the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle. He left the news­pa­per busi­ness in 1988 to join Inter­Me­dia Part­ners, a start-up that became one of the largest cable-TV com­pa­nies in the U.S. Mut­ter was the COO of Inter­Me­dia when he moved to Sil­i­con Val­ley in 1996 to join the first of the three start-up com­pa­nies he led as CEO. The com­pa­nies he headed were a pio­neer­ing Inter­net ser­vice provider and two enterprise-software com­pa­nies. Mut­ter now is a con­sul­tant spe­cial­iz­ing in cor­po­rate ini­tia­tives and new media ven­tures involv­ing jour­nal­ism and tech­nol­ogy. He ordi­nar­ily does not write about clients or sub­jects that will affect their inter­ests. In the rare event he does, this will be fully dis­closed. Mut­ter also is on the adjunct fac­ulty of the Grad­u­ate School of Jour­nal­ism at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berkeley.

A whole new kind of journalism: a dissenting view

Posted on | September 20, 2013 | No Comments

By Thomas Kent, deputy man­ag­ing edi­tor and stan­dards edi­tor, Asso­ci­ated Press

Pub­lished Sept. 20, 2013 on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Media Blog

In jour­nal­ism con­fer­ences and blogs, the last-leg school has been gain­ing cur­rency in the past few months. Its pro­po­nents argue that the basic trans­mis­sion of infor­ma­tion has become a cheap com­mod­ity — “any­one with a cell phone and a Twit­ter account can do it.” This infor­ma­tion, they say, is seen by every­one — long before jour­nal­is­tic gate­keep­ers can try to con­trol it. The bot­tom line: If there’s any­thing left for jour­nal­ists to do, it’s to attempt to add value by ana­lyz­ing and retelling what every­one has seen already.

These are quite dra­matic claims, and highly ques­tion­able. Trends so far offer lit­tle basis to expect a change in the fun­da­men­tals of the jour­nal­is­tic profession.

One asser­tion under­ly­ing much of the last-legs think­ing is that today’s jour­nal­ists, mul­ti­skilled as they may be, risk becom­ing obso­lete. In their por­trayal of the “net­worked jour­nal­ism” of the future in the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Bregtje van der Haak, Michael Parks and Manuel Castells say that unless jour­nal­ists take on much more spe­cial­ized new roles, they face los­ing ground “to the robots capa­ble of per­form­ing rou­tine data gath­er­ing, and to the cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists who con­stantly retrieve infor­ma­tion in real-life sit­u­a­tions around them.”

Yet robots and cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists have been with us for some time. News com­pa­nies rou­tinely use automa­tion to han­dle data and some­times even to write basic sto­ries. No one under­es­ti­mates the ubiq­uity of cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists; as the size of news­rooms declines, jour­nal­ists are ben­e­fit­ing increas­ingly from cit­i­zen contributions.

Read more here.

Writer’s Digest Conference Sept. 27–29 in LA

Posted on | September 17, 2013 | No Comments

Press Release, Sept. 16, 2013

One of the cen­ter­piece events of every Writer’s Digest Con­fer­ence is the Agent & Edi­tor Pitch Slam. It allows atten­dees to meet withWriter's Digest Conference .2 plenty of pub­lish­ing pros and pitch their work. It’s a fan­tas­tic way to meet agents and edi­tors who are seek­ing new clients now. Plus, I will be on site Fri­day evening to per­son­ally explain the ins and outs of a suc­cess­ful pitch. Using what you learn from my Fri­day “Pitch Per­fect” ses­sion, you can rewrite your pitch and come into Saturday’s slam pre­pared and ready.

But I know noth­ing suc­ceeds like suc­cess — so let me tell you about our pitch slam suc­cess sto­ries from the past. Writer Beth Buelow attended our con­fer­ence in Los Ange­les last year, and signed with agent Annie Bomke. And then there’s agent Thao Le, who also attended and signed a writer. And that’s to say noth­ing of the fact that sev­eral writ­ers each year sign with agents at our east coast (NYC) con­fer­ence, or that at least four writ­ers signed with agents fol­low­ing our 2008 event in Los Angeles.

Bot­tom line: Writer’s Digest’s Agent & Edi­tor Pitch Slam works. Con­nec­tions are hap­pen­ing. This year, we have at least 20 agents and edi­tors to pitch. Join us at our event, Sep­tem­ber 27–29, in Los Ange­les, and be our next suc­cess story. I hope to see you there.

Best regards,

Chuck Sam­buchino,
Learn more about me and all Writer’s Digest Con­fer­ence West speak­ers here.

Note to Journalists: Time to Get Our Mojo Back

Posted on | September 5, 2013 | No Comments

Editor’s note: This is a slightly altered ver­sion of a story I wrote August 4, 2011. I don’t think the cli­mate was right for it then, but I’m feel­ing a surge now, an upswing that could make this plan, just a shell of an idea now, come to life. There­fore, I have decided to bring it back for dis­cus­sion, which will no doubt begin with “Show me the money.” Although that’s crit­i­cal, let’s talk about whether the idea itself has merit.

Sept. 5, 2013Susan Older 8.13

By Susan Older, Founder of Dis­placed Jour­nal­ists and Real World Media

I refuse to give up on the jour­nal­ism pro­fes­sion. I refuse to give up on dis­placed jour­nal­ists, either. Not just the peo­ple in our Dis­placed Jour­nal­ists com­mu­nity here on the web, on LinkedIn, Face­book, and Twit­ter, but all jour­nal­ists who can’t find a place where they belong anymore.

It’s time to get our mojo back.

We need to rein­vent our pro­fes­sion to keep good jour­nal­ism alive.

Our soci­ety depends upon a free and vig­i­lant press. It is a fun­da­men­tal build­ing block of our democracy.

  • It pro­vides cit­i­zens with the news and infor­ma­tion they need to make their lives safer, eas­ier, hap­pier and more fulfilling.
  • It gives citizens/consumers the com­fort of know­ing some­one is out there look­ing after their interests.
  • It pro­vides the fun­da­men­tal role of ensur­ing an informed electorate.
  • It holds account­able the offi­cials cit­i­zens elect at the polls

Why is jour­nal­ism bro­ken? We all know the answer: It’s money. It’s not actu­ally the Inter­net. It’s the lack of rev­enue mod­els for both print and online news and infor­ma­tion operations.

Only Steve Jobs hit on a real rev­enue model. The iTunes and App Store are bril­liant, but it appears pub­lish­ers who try to sell their con­tent as apps will get only a small bite of the Apple – too lit­tle for sus­te­nance. Maybe we could emu­late that model with­out giv­ing our prod­uct away. Maybe Jeff Bezos will find the answer now that he’s pur­chased The Wash­ing­ton Post. I doubt it, but it’s possible.

We need to deter­mine who will pay for qual­ity con­tent. I believe the demand still exists.

We need to restore cit­i­zens’ trust in the news they read and the jour­nal­ists who report it. We can do this. The solu­tion lies in get­ting the best and the bright­est back to work and in a posi­tion to men­tor young jour­nal­ists, to pass on the mojo, the ded­i­ca­tion, the eth­i­cal stan­dards and the devo­tion to excel­lence that once defined our profession.

I pro­pose a rev­o­lu­tion­ary solu­tion to save jour­nal­ism and journalists.

Real World Media.

It is a big idea in its infancy — and it would require seri­ous fund­ing, major ven­ture cap­i­tal if we were to pull it off. I know there is money out there. Secur­ing it is the chal­lenge. Can it be done? Absolutely. Can I do it alone? Of course not. How­ever, I do believe that it is a start.

I know what you’re think­ing: “Show me the money.”

We must pose the ques­tion of how to find buy­ers for qual­ity con­tent. Let’s give it a shot. Let’s come together to devise a plan that will improve as it evolves. We need solu­tions that address the con­cerns of cit­i­zens of local, state, national and global com­mu­ni­ties. Let’s be real­is­tic: glob­al­iza­tion has changed the rules of the game. Almost all of the things we cover are play­ing out to some degree on a global scale.

So what is the future of jour­nal­ism? How can we address these issues.

Real World Media: What is it? Why participate?

Real World Media is designed to be the first location-based (think FourSquare), mobile-device-driven global news web. It will pro­vide tai­lored news and infor­ma­tion cov­er­age by top-notch, vet­ted reporters, pho­to­jour­nal­ists and news video­g­ra­phers who are already at or near the scene – and top notch edi­tors who inter­act with these jour­nal­ists and fine-tune their work.

Real World Media will pro­vide jour­nal­ists with the work they haven’t been able to find and the respect they deserve. Jour­nal­ists will be paid fairly and imme­di­ately (think Pay­Pal) – a rare occur­rence for free­lancers in the wake of our industry’s mas­sive job losses.

Jour­nal­ists will be asso­ci­ated with the best and the bright­est col­leagues – reporters, edi­tors, pho­to­jour­nal­ists and news video­g­ra­phers – all of them drawn to Real World Media because it’s a pres­ti­gious, trusted net­work and it’s their best chance of get­ting fair com­pen­sa­tion for a job well done.

The edi­to­r­ial board of Real World Media will screen jour­nal­ists who seek to be part of its global net­work. Jour­nal­ists who have the right stuff will start receiv­ing assign­ments once it’s up and run­ning. Jour­nal­ists who don’t make the cut right away will be referred to cus­tomized train­ing and performance-improvement solu­tions to help them qual­ify at a later date.

The first step in any new ven­ture is to look at it from the point of view of the cus­tomer. Of course, this has always been the case for jour­nal­ists. We’ve been trained to make cov­er­age deci­sions based on what our read­ers want. I have always referred to this as the “what does it mean to me” fac­tor. Read­ers didn’t sub­scribe to news­pa­pers unless they deliv­ered news and infor­ma­tion that directly affected their lives. How can we make our cov­er­age so good that read­ers or users will pay for it online? It’s a tough ques­tion, but we must come with a solu­tion. We can’t just give up.

What about cov­er­age of “what they need to know”? Yes, we’ve always done that, too, because the great thing about news­pa­pers was that read­ers stum­bled upon things they couldn’t have pre­dicted they would want to read. It was serendip­ity. That’s some­thing we’ve lost to vary­ing degrees as news and infor­ma­tion migrated to online sites. Now users tend to go to the sites that reflect their spe­cific inter­ests or views. Real World Media will offer engag­ing enter­prise sto­ries, pho­tos and video designed to put the serendip­ity back into news sites.

What keeps Real World Media cus­tomers up at night?

Entre­pre­neurs in every field look for the “pain point.” They ask the ques­tion: “What keeps our poten­tial cus­tomers up at night?” If they can’t answer that ques­tion, they need to go back to square one and fig­ure it out.

Let’s look at our poten­tial cus­tomers’ needs and address them as if we were speak­ing directly to them.

This is a sam­ple scenario:

You are a man­ag­ing edi­tor at a news and infor­ma­tion oper­a­tion – either print or online. You have dis­missed more of your staff than you knew was wise. You did it because, finan­cially, you believed you had no choice. You or your pub­lisher felt it was nec­es­sary to trim the bud­get to stay in busi­ness. Unfor­tu­nately, you got rid of the best and the most expe­ri­enced jour­nal­ists because their salaries were the highest.

Now you’re look­ing at a dec­i­mated news­room and a big story breaks – one that directly affects your read­ers and your com­mu­nity. It could be floods, drought, and for­est fires. It could be cor­rup­tion in your local police depart­ment or city hall. It could be a scan­dal, play­ing out in Wash­ing­ton, one that involves local or state offi­cials. It could be a story about a local mil­i­tary man or woman engaged in bat­tle half way around the world. You want to cover these things, and you want the local angle, prob­a­bly with pho­tos and video, but you don’t have a staffer to spare.

What do you do?

  • Do you send a jour­nal­ist, pos­si­bly insuf­fi­ciently expe­ri­enced, to deal with a dif­fi­cult assign­ment, bag­ging the impor­tant story he or she was work­ing on before you had to shift gears?
  • Do you resign your­self to using a wire ser­vice story, know­ing that they are extremely unlikely to give you the local angle and that the same story will appear every­where else?
  • Do you call a free­lancer whom you may not know? Are you con­fi­dent he or she will get to the scene on time? Are they any good? Do you need to find a pho­to­jour­nal­ist or news video­g­ra­pher, as well?
  • How much time can you afford to spend set­ting this cov­er­age in motion?

You get the point. No mat­ter what you do, you rob your read­ers of one thing to give them another. That hurts. You never had to make this trade­off in the past. You once had a good and siz­able staff that was capa­ble of doing it all and doing it all well. Your news­room ran smoothly – okay, as smoothly as pos­si­ble. You could afford to take time lin­ing up free­lancers around the world for a big story, and once you did that you had a big enough staff to assign your own reporters to get the local angle.

Read­ers were loyal because you gave them news and infor­ma­tion that truly affected their lives – their chil­dren, health­care, fam­ily bud­gets, safety, schools, work­places, neigh­bor­hoods, hous­ing, etc. When it came to inves­tiga­tive report­ing or break­ing news cov­er­age that affected your read­ers any­where around the globe, you gave read­ers your best. Can you do this now, with sparse resources?

Real World Media clients: what we give you

Now, say you’re a Real Word Media client. One sce­nario: Real World Media will pro­vide a sim­ple and afford­able solu­tion to the many prob­lems brought about by staff short­ages. You will get full cov­er­age with­out break­ing the bank. You, your pub­lisher, your read­ers and great jour­nal­ists can all sleep at night.

Real World Media takes your requests and uses cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy to locate jour­nal­ists, pho­tog­ra­phers and video­g­ra­phers around the world to cover the story to your spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Maybe it’s a story break­ing halfway around the globe, but it affects peo­ple from your town, city or state. Real World Media will cover the global and, if you like, the local angles of the story.

You will pay Real World Media and its jour­nal­ists well because you know they are worth it and you get what you need from them. Just think about what you once paid your most valu­able staff mem­bers, the ones you had to dis­miss as adver­tis­ing dwin­dled and news and infor­ma­tion took off into uncharted dig­i­tal territory.

Real World Media is not designed to take jobs away from work­ing jour­nal­ists. We’re happy to see jour­nal­ists work­ing at all. As for job­less jour­nal­ists, we gen­uinely hope they will find great jobs again. For now, though, why not tap into their tal­ent and expe­ri­ence through a sys­tem you can trust. But let me be clear: Real World Media is not a con­tent mill. Com­pen­sa­tion will be fair.No “writ­ing for exposure.”

It’s a win-win for every­one. You will save on salary, ben­e­fits, travel expenses, and expen­sive equip­ment and jour­nal­ists will get the fair com­pen­sa­tion they have been miss­ing by join­ing the Real World Media net­work. We also hope to nego­ti­ate group rates for ben­e­fits such as health care.

Your read­ers will get what they want, whether it is inter­na­tional or domes­tic cov­er­age with a com­mu­nity angle or an inves­tiga­tive report­ing project right down the road or around the globe that you can­not begin to staff. It might even be a fea­ture story you just know your read­ers would enjoy, one that would enrich their lives.

As a client of Real World Media you  will have at least three options:

  • You may make a spe­cial request for a local angle on any given story. Real World Media jour­nal­ists will report it for you. This will serve your needs regard­less of whether the story is hap­pen­ing inside or out­side of your geo­graphic com­mu­nity. It doesn’t mat­ter. You will have the option of inform­ing read­ers of more than what’s hap­pen­ing. You will tell them exactly what it means to them, with quotes from local cit­i­zens and local officials.
  • You may request an exclu­sive story that will not be avail­able or even vis­i­ble to other clients on the Real World Media site. This will serve your needs if you want an exclu­sive on a break­ing story or if you want a highly qual­i­fied team to han­dle an inves­tiga­tive project or local story that you don’t have the staff to handle.
  • You may buy a story that will appeal to your audi­ence straight off the Real World Media site. This will serve your needs if you sim­ply want the best pos­si­ble cov­er­age on an impor­tant story. This would serve your needs if you don’t need a local angle and aren’t con­cerned with exclu­siv­ity, but don’t want to run a wire ser­vice story iden­ti­cal to the one your com­pe­ti­tion carries.

Real World Media will run the net­work. We will find, eval­u­ate and direct the reporters, edi­tors, pho­tog­ra­phers and video­g­ra­phers. We will have lay­ers of edi­tors – all highly expe­ri­enced, respected and trust­wor­thy. We will main­tain a web­site fea­tur­ing syn­opses of all the sto­ries avail­able for pur­chase, the price, and the option to nego­ti­ate exclu­sive sto­ries or big sto­ries with local angles.

You will tell us what you need and we will find the best jour­nal­ists for you. We will use cutting-edge, location-based, mobile tech­nol­ogy to stay in touch with jour­nal­ists (reporters, edi­tors, pho­tog­ra­phers or video­g­ra­phers) who are at or near the scene and pre­pared to take the assign­ment. If another jour­nal­ist is required to inter­view peo­ple in your com­mu­nity for a local angle, we will pro­vide that ser­vice, too.

You will nego­ti­ate and pay a fair price for sto­ries pro­duced by Real World Media’s global net­work of jour­nal­ists because you know they are worth it. They will fill the void cre­ated when you laid off your best staffers.

Real World Media will charge for the story, the pho­tos or the video you com­mis­sion from our net­work of jour­nal­ists. You will be oblig­ated by con­tract to buy an assigned story, pho­tos or video, regard­less of whether you use them. You will pay more if you decide to alter your orig­i­nal request. Of course, good reporters, pho­tog­ra­phers and video­g­ra­phers think for them­selves and are highly likely to deliver more than you asked for, sim­ply because of the sit­u­a­tion they find on the ground when they are in the process of report­ing or shoot­ing pho­tos or video.

Real World Media will have a multi-layered net­work of highly expe­ri­enced and vet­ted edi­tors to ensure that cus­tomers receive pro­fes­sion­ally edited products.

None of this is carved in stone. In fact, this is just a jump­ing off point.

Please join the dis­cus­sion and add you thoughts on this con­cept. I would love to hear what you think. My email address:

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  • Welcome to Our Community

        Is there life – or work – after news­pa­pers? A lot of us are in the process of find­ing out. Because it’s gen­er­ally a some­what lonely endeavor, it struck me, in Jan­u­ary 2010, that it might be com­fort­ing – and pos­si­bly very pro­duc­tive – to go through it together.

        Dis­placed Jour­nal­ists is a com­mu­nity – our com­mu­nity – where we find com­mon ground, where we can begin to pick our­selves up, dust our­selves off and get on with our lives and liveli­hoods. [more]

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