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Funding Journalism in the Digital Age

Business Models, Strategies, Issues and Trends

Jeff Kaye and Stephen Quinn

The news media play a vital role in keeping the public informed and maintaining democratic processes. But that essential function has come under threat as emerging technologies and changing social trends, sped up by global economic turmoil, have disrupted traditional business models and practices, creating a financial crisis. Quality journalism is expensive to produce – so how will it survive as current sources of revenue shrink? Funding Journalism in the Digital Age not only explores the current challenges, but also provides a comprehensive look at business models and strategies that could sustain the news industry as it makes the transition from print and broadcast distribution to primarily digital platforms. The authors bring widespread international journalism experience to provide a global perspective on how news organizations are evolving, investigating innovative commercial projects in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Norway, South Korea, Singapore and elsewhere.
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6 Collaboration between mainstream media and citizen journalists



Pro-am is the term we use to describe partnerships between traditional newspapers and/or broadcasters, and contributions from the audience (the amateurs). The amateurs often contribute content for free. With a pro-am model, professionals use a well-established brand to distribute that content. The professionals understand concepts like news values, the importance of ethics, and how to edit content to ensure quality. They generally produce a better product than amateurs working alone. A pro-am partnership is a classic win-win situation: both parties benefit from the partnership. This chapter highlights two of the most successful pro-am partnerships in Asia, OhmyNews in South Korea and STOMP in Singapore, and touches on others in the US and Europe. This chapter shows that people will contribute for free if they receive rewards beyond money, and that involving the audience helps lower operating costs for traditional media as well as producing varied perspectives from news coverage.

OhmyNews in South Korea is the world’s best-known example of a news organization that embraces the audience. In December 2004 The Guardian named OhmyNews one of its top five news sites for its role as a “hybrid between weblog and pro news site.” On a typical day about 70,000 citizen reporters submit about 200 stories for the Korean-language site. Another 6,000 international citizen reporters submit content for the English-language site. Jean Min runs the English-language arm, called OhmyNews International. OhmyNews had a different kind of economic model compared with traditional media – “more like wiki-nomics,...

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