In the Loop

Journalism and evolution

Posted at 6:00 PM on February 17, 2009 by Sanden Totten (1 Comments)

As the theory goes, when resources get scarce plants and animals have to adapt to survive. When things get really brutal, like a sudden change in the climate, they have to adapt fast. And it can get ugly. Animals develop all sorts of horns and spiky things to fend off enemies. Plants spread far and wide, often choking out the competition. But this aggressive streak in nature is also responsible for some pretty amazing organisms.

Evolution isn't always pretty!
Pic by Liam Gladdy via Creative Commons

Cut to the news business.

Clearly the world of journalism is entering it's own era of competitive evolution. Outlets are vying for more consumers with fewer resources. And as the advertising dollars start drying up, the competition in the mainstream media is getting fierce. But in this new phase of rapid redevelopment, there are countless examples of unique and interesting, if not ultimately doomed, new species.

One new approach to news I stumbled across the other day is Business Week's What's Your Story Idea? Readers tip stories to the Editor-in-Chief and once a week, he picks an idea with some legs and assigns it to a BW writer. They've already had some real winners with this formula, like a story on how the economy is playing out in baseball's free agent market or this expose on the rising cost of the tin plates in your canned food.

Pic by alex-s via Creative Commons
You could take the idea of letting the readers inform coverage one step further like does. In this model, readers not only pitch a story idea, but in order to see it come to pass, they have to put their money where their mouth is. Journalists lay out the price the reporting would cost and visitors to the site pitch in money for the stories they want to read.

Once there is a critical mass of donations, the reporter gets to work. Then once the story is finished it's up for everyone to read. However, if a news outlet wants exclusive rights to run the story will sell it and give credit back to the readers who made it happen. Think of it like a story stock market.

Who knows if any of these ideas will catch on or if they are destined to be footnotes in the big book of news history. What other odd and interesting ways have you seen journalism evolve lately?

Comments (1)

And the code for is open source - so Minn Public Radio can implement this idea as well.

Posted by David Cohn | February 19, 2009 12:10 AM

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