Tagged: 'business models'

College Media Lab + Innovative Models: Technically Philly and News Inkubator

This week we’ve combined our inspiring models for college media series and College Media Lab, featuring Technically Philly and News Inkubator. Listen to or download the podcast at the end of the post.

Hey college news, it’s your older brother: hyperlocal.

We’re not so different, you and I. We’re both industries dominated by the inexperienced. We both have to cover a specific community. In fact, it could be argued that collegiate journalism is a subset of hyperlocal.

Fortunately for you this means that we all share the same problems. Both college newspapers and hyperlocal sites are figuring out the best ways to monetize a geographic area of like-minded people, often through the Web.

Thanks to Jeff Jarvis and the folks at CUNY, we know that some hyperlocal sites are pulling in $200,000 a year. We also know of some college newspapers that are self-sustaining. There are successful companies in both our spaces, yet many of us struggle to grasp the fundamentals of the business.

That is why the team behind Technically Philly has proposed News Inkubator, a shared office spaces and business services hub for hyperlocal news sites in Philadelphia. Picture a shared office space and a shared sales staff that help hyperlocals generate revenue ideas together, while still maintaining their editorial and business independence.

News Inkubator is also about bridging the entrepreneurial and media communities in Philadelphia to help foster a working relationship were each side learns from the other. All of these concepts can translate to benefit your college publication. In fact, here are three of our ideas that I hope you steal:

Use the existing bureaucracy

Universities have already separated students by interest. The computer science students often belong to a different school than the business students that belong to a different school than the journalism students. Why not bring all three of these sides together?

Each can have a project for the semester and learn from the other students. To survive in 2010, journalism grads are going to need to know how businesses work. Business grads are going to have to understand new media and computer science students need client work to showcase when they graduate.

If time becomes an issue, lobby to create a new class. Department heads love to show each other how innovative they are, so ask them to help.

The space is cheap

Many college newspapers rent (or are given) office space from the university negating one of the biggest hurdles in legitimizing an online hyperlocal entity. Use this to your advantage. Host speakers that are business leaders from local companies. You could even spring for some pizza and host a hackathon or barcamp open to all majors and career paths to build products for the paper.

Spoke, meet hub

Many college have student-run blogs or organization websites. Aggregate and create content partnerships with everyone who also covers what you cover. There is no need for overlap in your college’s media market.

As the college newspaper, you have an established editorial process and revenue streams, so offer to be the hub for your local sites and maybe even work out a revenue sharing plan. It will be good training for covering any niche after you graduate and can free up your paper’s already limited resources to pursue more in-depth journalism and even work on new revenue models together.

The three founders of Technically Philly met at the Temple News, and we use the skills we learned there everyday. Use your time at a college newspaper to not only flex your reporting muscles but also see if you can start a side project that makes a little more money for the paper. Your wallet will thank you when you graduate.

Be sure to give our application a read and offer any criticism. The harsher, the better.

Contact Sean Blanda at sean@technicallyphilly.com or follow him on Twitter, @seanblanda.

WordPress, DjangoCon and a few summer project updates

There are oh so many wondrous things for you to click on this weekend (via the CoPress Publish2 Newsgroup):

  • Is Crowdfunding the Future of Journalism? – Crowdfunding may or may not be the future of journalism, but crowdlinking is one way of determining which stories are hot. Everyone who’s anyone linked to this story on Twitter. The story covers some of the successes and challenges of projects such as Spot.us and Chi-town Daily News. It will be interesting to see who in the college market follows suit.
  • DjangoCon is coming to town. My town, at least. DjangoCon will be in Portland this September 8th through 12th. The first three days will be conference days, and the last two will be code sprint days. If you can make it to Portland, student tickets are only $135.00 for all five days. We might even be able to put together a small, college-media specific component.
  • Announcing the Publish2 WordPress plugin: Do more with your links – Full disclosure: this was my baby that we finally released officially into the wild. With a feature called Link Assist, It makes it much simpler to access your Publish2 links while writing a story. The plugin also makes it simple to add your links to your sidebar or create a “What We’re Reading” page for your readers. /shameless self-promotion
  • How Useful (and Usable) is Your Site? – A simple set of exercises to tell whether your newspaper website is actually worth using or not. See if yours passes the test; if not, you probably have work to do.

On the note of WordPress, you should upgrade your Google Analyticator plugin. Among a new set of features released with version 5.0, the plugin now offers one-click authentication with Google and makes it super easy to access your analytics on the WordPress dashboard.

This morning, I started a thread on commenting policy best practices based on a question we received. The success stories I’ve heard in the past year have been coming from the Daily Gazette at Swarthmore and NYU Local. Both have actively engaged communities. The Daily Gazette keeps things civil by recording the location of the commenter (whether they’re on campus or off), encouraging them to sign up for an account, and allowing fellow commenters to vote on the quality of comments. NYU Local requires all commenters to use both first and last names. Depending on the amount of participation on the thread, I might roll the results into a blog post.

On the wiki, The College Voice has started maintaining a list of their current projects which include “designing a new icon and masthead to go along with its new website, all launching in September 2009 as part of its online development project” and also “developing a pdf archive of its issues, from the 1990s, and hopefully scanning its editions from its premiere in 1977.” For anyone else interested, if you include this section on your organization’s profile then it’s an easy way for us to keep up to date on what you’re working on.

At The Maine Campus, Will Davis is finishing up a classifieds system he built in PHP from scratch. One advantage? If you want to add a feature, you just build it. There’s a new feature on Will’s project every time I look at it (most recently, an RSS feed of all items posted). I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of it this fall.

How Do We Make Money?


College media is a funny beast. It seems to lag about a year to three years behind the mainstream media. This applies web-first thinking, blogging, web site design, and monetization. So, this weekend, when the CoPress forum became an active discussion of CPM vs CPC vs CPD ad models, I couldn’t help but grin twice.

First, because this is a conversation that the rest of the media had a few years ago (and has never resolved), and second, because this struck on a particular passion of mine – monetizing online media. (Go figure, the Business Director is interested in monetization)

The following post is an expansion of my forum comments, and still worth a read if you’ve already been through the forum.

The Current System

There are really three ways for advertisers: by impression, by click, and by time period (usually day). Of course, there are hybrids of all three models, which the top ad networks utilize (FacebookGoogle). The issue, is that all of these models have some inherent flaw. CPM doesn’t reward for the effectiveness of an ad, CPC necessarily reward high traffic, and CPD, while it guarantees a nice minimum about you can make, has both of the same issues.
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Thoughts after Revenue Two Point Zero: You Need a Revenue Office, Not an Ad Department


The background

College news organizations need to move beyond advertising. Now.

Hold that thought.

Some background: The topic of generating revenue to sustain news organizations has begun to consume my thoughts about journalism. There are a number of reasons why, but this mostly came after a little meetup last Saturday in DC called RevenueTwoPointZero (Rev2oh on Twitter).

This isn’t the first time our humble CoPress crew is talking about the business side of journalism. Namely, check out Joey Baker‘s post from December, “But we make all our money from newsprint!”.

But why? Aren’t we just about technology and college news sites?

No. That’s a main theme, but we would be remiss if we left revenue off the table. It’s hard to run a news site without money, unless you’re an exception.

Actually, one of our three main goals directly relates to making money: We want student news organizations to generate more online revenue by having full control over their sites.

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This Week in CoPress: Monetizing Online Student News

Host: Bryan Murley

Guests: Brad Arendt, Boise State Arbiter; Kevin Schwartz, Daily Tar Heel; Max Cutler, Yale Daily News; Joey Baker, Daily Orange

Summary: A comprehensive introduction to the current state of online newspaper monetization. Most student newspapers make less than 10% of their overall revenue from online, and the limitations seem to be a lack of infrastructure and inventory. The Daily Tar Heel has had success with Heels Housing, an interactive student housing guide, and Max Cutler recommends Google Ad Manager over OpenX because of its relative ease of use.

Related: Forum discussing strategies for monetizing online

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Have feedback or ideas for an upcoming podcast? Let us know!

We Clicked On: Collaboration Abounds

We’re starting a new regular Friday feature here at CoPress called We Clicked On. It’s going to be a round-up of activity on the website, news from the Network, and other links of interest in the past week. If you’re interested in contributing, join our Newsgroup on Publish2, save links with “for:copress” in delicious, or email us with the link and your take (we’ll be using that to craft the crafty commentary). The round-up will evolve as time goes on and, as always, we’d enjoy your feedback on what works and what needs to be improved.

In the Community

We launched our first forum this week, asking about what is needed for student news organizations to collaborate. As of writing, Emily Ingram has been the only one to respond, but she offers good tips for what a collaborative platform might need: a place to crowdsource a solution for a particularly difficult problem, a source for tips and tricks that have worked for other young journalists, and a source of inspiration so we can stay innovative amid all the doom-and-gloom talk.

Our new wiki also saw the light of day this week with a number of excellent contributions, including two profile pages for student news organizations I hadn’t heard from before: The Snapper (running WordPress) and The Maneater (running Django). We’re very excited to have them in the community. There’s also a bunch of new WordPress themes listed if you’re looking for something to build from.

Around the Network

Jackie Hai, of the Amherst Wire, reports on a first-ever student media summit at UMass. The goal was to “have people from each group meet face-to-face and open up channels of communication, paving the way for a collaborative workflow in delivering a more unified news experience to readers and viewers” and it appears as though they’ve already found several ways to come together.

Bryan Murley at the Center for Innovation in College Media (CICM) has announced a pretty darn comprehensive college media contest. It’s all about online media, and he’s looking for the best examples of multimedia, use of data in reporting, and overall web presence, among other criteria.

Andrew Dunn has proposed a syllabus for studying news business models, and it has been pretty well received in the community. There’s talk of doing this completely online, which would be very cool.

The Whitman Pioneer, a weekly newspaper at Whitman College, has relaunched with a new WordPress theme for its website. Andrew Spittle, the new Web Manager, has more details on his blog.

Shameless plug. In response to a growing chorus of discontent about the Daily Emerald, I wrote a post about the steps they should take to regain trust and learn how to innovate. It’s all about transparency, and I think such transparency could lead to better buy-in from the community.

In the news, ending 12 December 2008

Links of interest to the team in the past couple of weeks:

Why not writing a story is innovation – Publishing 2.0
Daniel: Down with rewriting and publishing press releases (and other such nonsense)!

MediaShift Idea Lab: Mistakes I made with the Next Newsroom Project | PBS

Joey: Regarding the KNC grant:

  • include enough money to hire a few people
  • recognize that the project is going to take time; a lot of it
  • don’t overcomplicate your life. use free software to make things move quickly. It’s all about the version 1!

Knight Digital Media Center: Leadership: Leadership Report 2008: Action Steps

Joey:  Here are some of the actions editors at the 2008 KDMC leadership conference decided to take:

  • Put someone in charge of analyzing and understanding Web metrics
  • Hold editors accountable for Web traffic to their pages and sites
  • Develop a strategy for mobile news and information delivery
  • Break down an all-encompassing plan for a new portal into small bites or iterations that can launch successively
  • Reduce a long priority list to a few most important items and focus on them
  • Develop a strategy for social networking
  • Launch different affinity networks with frequency; keep the ones that work, scrap those that don’t.
  • Train staff about key audiences for the Web and print products
  • Treat the daily newspaper as a niche product and focus resources accordingly
  • Wholesale video packages to local television outlets.

Why CoPress Matters – Journalism 3.0
Daniel: Emily writes a pretty convincing case for CoPress.

Link Journalism Drives Page Views and Engagement – Publishing 2.0

Not Dead: The Paid-for Online Model | Monday Note

Joey: He never says ‘freemium,’ but that’s what he means. The idea: charge people that have excess page views

The market and the internet don’t care if you make money – Publishing 2.0

Joey: There must be a business model for news.

But we make all our money from newsprint!


We’ve got a problem at The Daily Orange: our ad revenue is shrinking.

Sound familiar? A newspaper that’s having trouble making ends meet!?

We were having such difficulty balancing our budget, that we cut our print Friday edition (we still publish online).

The Daily Orange is an independent student newspaper. “Independent” means that we receive no money from the academic institution that we cover (well… they don’t charge us rent; but, that’s the only help we get). We pay a heavy price for the freedom to set our editorial content – we rely on print advertising for nearly all of our income.

This is a problem. As we’re forced to slowly transition toward an online newsroom, we risk abandoning the money making print edition. This scares our business manager to death. It frightens our board. We all know that the internet is the future, but can’t see a way to monetize online content.

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