A Penny Press for the Digital Age
In the 19th century, the “penny press” revolutionized journalism by covering news that appealed to the broadest possible public. Today, as media organizations struggle to monetize online coverage and chase tech trends, they have all but abandoned less-than-affluent readers — and with them, the commitment to public service journalism. According to Pew, fewer than half of Americans who make under $75K a year go online for news. This panel will reconsider the digital divide in terms of information as well as technology. We’ll explore how low-income and working-class people – the majority of Americans – can be included in the future of online news. We'll discuss new models for participatory, data-driven local journalism. We’re not trying to save newspapers or kill them off. Our aim is to help bring journalism back to those who punch a clock. This Future of Journalism Track is sponsored by The Knight Foundation.
Fiona Morgan is an Associate in Research at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy at Duke University. She is working with Prof. James Hamilton on a project examining the information needs of low-income people and communities.
Before earning her Master of Public Policy degree from Duke in 2011, she was a reporter and editor for 10 years, most recently for the Independent Weekly, the alternative newsweekly of the Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) area of North Carolina, where she covered media and technology issues.
She recently authored a case study for the New America Foundation's Media Policy Initiative about the Triangle's information ecology.
Jessamyn West is a community technologist, librarian, and moderator of the massive group blog MetaFilter. She has recently completed writing "Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide" which will be published in April 2011.
Ryan teaches online newswriting and editing and is a 2011 Knight News Challenge winner for his project to bring OpenBlock sustainable and relevant at rural newspapers. He is also author of "Producing Online News" and a senior trainer for Webbmedia Group. From 1997-2007 he worked in digital media at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly and U.S. News & World Report.
Tom Stites is founder and president of the Banyan Project, which is pioneering a new business model for Web journalism based on the consumer cooperative -- readers will own Banyan sites the way shoppers own food co-ops. The sites will be community institutions that provide the reliable information people need to make their best life and citizenship decisions.
As a 2010-11 fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, Stites worked on Banyan planning; he's now is the process of launching a pilot site in Haverhill, Mass.
Tom is an editor, entrepreneur and writer with a passion for strengthening journalism and democracy. As an editor he has supervised reporting that has won an array of major journalism awards including the Pulitzer Prize; as an entrepreneur he has been the founding publisher of two print magazines and three Web publications in addition to Banyan. His writings and speeches on strengthening democracy and on journalism have won a respectful following.