F2C Day 2, Part 2: The media – the backchannel

On of the things that is particularly valuable about Freedom to Connect, and some similar conferences is the backchannel. This is typically a text based chat tool that gets projected onto the screen behind the speakers that people access from their laptops in the audience, or in my case yesterday, from my home computer as I watched the stream. It reflects Gillmor’s observation about the audience often knowing more about the subject than the speakers do.

During the “Peer Production News Panel” there were a couple interesting discussions that I got involved with, which I will post here, in a format edited for readability.

As often happens when you get people discussion the role of the internet in journalism, the question of economic models comes up, and people point out Craig’s List as taking away the advertising revenue of newspapers.

As I’ve been brainstorming with Bill Densmore and Tish Grier about the New England News Forum Conference which will be taking place in Lowell, Mass on April 7th, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of bringing social media to companies in New England as part of economic development and promoting a ‘New England Brand’. We talked about how, by helping companies make smart use of social media, we are potentially helping online news organizations find new sources of revenue. With this in mind, I had the following discussion with David Weinberger.

Me: “if news organizations embraced social media, they could be doing advertising that would blow away where craigs list currently is (IMHO)”
David: “We know we don't need newspapers for classified ads social software. What do papers offer that makes them the places where social sw should take root?”
Me: “Good question about the role of newspapers: I believe the answer has to do with community ties, local institutional knowledge, distribution systems that go beyond the web, etc.”
David “Step one in figuring out how newspapers can survive. But too many of them seem to assume their continuing strength is their authority, not the stuff you point to.”

I hope this is a discussion many of us will continue in Lowell.

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what newspapers can do better