Posts Tagged ‘ internet ’

Tweet, Tweet

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Twitter has revolutionized society as we know it. In a nutshell, Twitter is a networking tool that helps users keep up with friends, strangers, and even celebrities. But for news organizations, it is a resource for publishing work, communicating with other journalists and finding story ideas.

Along with The New York Times, other news organizations such as CNN, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel and The (Portland) Oregonian are using Twitter to post breaking news alerts and updates on sports, business and traffic, that can be read via cell phone text messages, instant messaging or on a user’s Web browser.

One of the best things about having a Twitter account for a news organization is that it doesn’t take much time to create. And it’s free. Having a free tool is especially important in today’s industry with newsrooms making tons of cutbacks to save money.

Journalists can also use Twitter to get tips for story ideas through updates from other organizations. Journalists can use Twitter’s public timeline and look for trends to develop into a story. They can also find sources in the search option on the right-hand side of the Twitter page.

Some journalists are even using Twitter to find jobs. The British journalism site,, has a Twitter account that sends job updates to subscribers who write “Looking for a job.” Followers of the twitter site can also have job updates instant-messaged or text-messaged to them through Twitter.

Recruiters can use Twitter to help keep in contact with people who apply for jobs and internships. By posting a tweet, a recruiter can let everyone know where the company is currently at in the selection process. This will definitely save them a lot of unnecessary phone calls and e-mails.

Although many people in the news business are still not familiar with Twitter, it can be a very useful tool. So journalists…jump on the Tweet-wagon and tweet away!


ProPublica: How Do They Afford It?

ProPublica is proud to be an independent, non-profit newsroom, but how do they manage to stay afloat?

According to the New York Times, the traditional model of journalism is changing.  Newspaper advertising revenue declines and technology are drastically changing the public’s relationship with news organizations.

In 2009, ad revenue was down 30 percent for some newspapers. The Times says that it is searching for new streams of money and opening itself to new ideas. In the old model, editors decided what news is, assign their own reporters and pay the expenses using ad revenue. Now, with ad revenue down, media outlets like The Times are trying to form a variety of partnerships and arrangements to fund stories.

This is exactly how ProPublica manages to stay in business.

In 2009, ProPublica published 138 news stories with 38 different partners. One of these was actually awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

When ProPublica publishes a story, the story does not just appear on the website.  ProPublica actually offers its stories offered to traditional news organizations, free of charge, for publication or for broadcast.

ProPublica also partners with major news organizations to produce stories. For instance, ProPublica partnered with CBS to do a report on questionable federal stimulus spending on airports. They worked hard to deliver a story free of any political bias.

But it doesn’t end there. ProPublica supports each story that it publishes with an active and aggressive follow up. This includes regularly contacting reporters, editors and bloggers, encouraging them to follow-up on ProPublica’s reporting, and to link to ProPublica’s work.

Interestingly, ProPublica does not just promote it’s own reporters’ stories. The ProPublica website site also features investigative reporting produced by others. ProPublica wants their website to only be a destination, but a tool for promoting good work in the journalism field.

But where is ProPublica getting the funds to do this type of reporting? Obviously, the Sandler Foundation has made a major, multi-year commitment to fund ProPublica. However, they don’t do it alone. ProPublica is trying to build a more sustainable business model and reduce its reliance on the Sandlers. Currently, ProPublica has a large group of supporters and philanthropic contributors such as the MacArthur Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies.

ProPublica has managed to perfect the art of securing donations. Their stories have to be sufficiently compelling to convince editors and producers to accord them space or time. By consistently delivering compelling stories, donors will be confident that professional standards are being met and maintained, and that important work is being done. Thus, they will be more willing to donate to ProPublica’s cause.

So, is this a model that could be implemented across the board?  Instead of desperately trying to save and adapt the current business model, is it time for a new one altogether?

It’s obvious that news outlets need to change and develop, in terms of what they cover, how they cover it, and how they reach their audience. It’s no secret that the Internet has revolutionized the way people follow the news, and it will undoubtedly continue to play a role in journalism practices. The idea of implementing payment for online news is an option, but has yet to show much success. For now, if newspapers and other media organizations want to function effectively, whether in print or online, they need to be creative in finding new ways to maintain sufficient staff and resources. Thankfully, an organization like ProPublica found a way to provide the American public with quality news stories despite these hard economic times. Let’s hope the rest of the journalism world can follow in its footsteps.

Meet the Faces of Pro Publica

Some people believe all you need to succeed is an idea and a dream. In ProPublica’s case, all you need is a dream and some friends with a whole lot of money.

In Fall 2006, Paul Steiger, the former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, got a phone call from Herbert and Marion Sandler about a business venture. Steiger said he knew little about the Sandlers, except that they were former chief executives of the Golden West Financial Corporation – one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and savings and loans.

With money to spare, the Sandlers wanted to invest in something big. They told Steiger to come up with a proposal for a nonprofit news organization that focused on investigative journalism. After seeing Steiger’s plan, the Sandlers were instantly sold. They told Steiger that they would finance the organization, but only if he would run it. After some thought, Steiger agreed.

The Sandlers committed a chunk of their personal fortune – $10 million a year to the project to be exact. And so, ProPublica was born.

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Today, ProPublica has become one of the few success stories for online journalism. But behind every great success, is a great leader, or in this case a team of great leaders.

ProPublica’s current editor-in-chief, president and chief executive is Paul Steiger, but Steiger is not alone. He has the help of two other experienced media gurus. The first is managing editor Stephen Engelberg – a former managing editor of The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon and former investigative editor for the The New York Times. The second is general manger Richard Tofel – the former assistant publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

With a strong backbone, ProPublica came onto the scene in October 2007, commenced operations  in January 2008, and began publishing in June 2008. And thus, an online journalism powerhouse was born. But it’s not just the leaders that make this news outlet what is it, it’s the employees.

Staffed by army of 32 working journalists, all dedicated to investigative reporting on stories with significant impact, ProPublica is taking on the world of investigative journalism by storm.

For an aspiring journalist like myself, ProPublica is the place to be if I want to learn the ropes of professional online journalism. Their staff seems to be an extremely well-versed and experienced group of individuals – people I could definitely learn a lot from. Simply having the opportunity to work with established journalism honchos such as Steiger, Engelberg and Tofel would be like having years of journalism experience at my fingertips.

Steiger, Engelberg, Tofel and other ProPublica staffers have all made their marks in the history of journalism in a variety of mediums. Interestingly, they have also all managed to make a successful the transition from print and other news outlets to the Internet – an impossible task according to some journalists. To me, this says that anything is possible if you are willing to make it happen. Maybe all you really need is an idea and a dream after all.