College Media / industry news

Wrap-up of last night's #collegejourn chat


This week’s #collegejourn chat — originated on Twitter, now moved to a Meebo chat room — picked up on the topics of:

  1. Freedom on Information Act
  2. Developing an online business model course
  3. Transition plan for a digital newsroom

For those of you who are unfamiliar with #collegejourn, it’s a chat that goes on every Sunday from 5-8 PST (8-11 EST) among college journalists throughout the nation. It’s moderated by Suzanne Yada (@suzanneyada on Twitter).

A quick summary (read the full chat log here):

Freedom of Information Act

The first topic of the night spurred from a post by the Ohio University SPJ. The Ohio University board chairman, who put up a fight to release any Freedom of Information Act documents, said:

I am even unsure that we should provide the next document without a fight. It sickens me to think of the waste and unproductive time being spent in the name of open records and freedom of the press.

A few thoughts that arose during #collegejourn chat:

Now here’s the thing: I have heard from other sources, namely San Jose city council, that FOIA eats up something like 40% of staff’s time -@suzanneyada

if they released more to begin with, wouldn’t there be less FOIA stuff? -JohnLowe

On the same note, @karenkho, a journalism/English student at the University of Toronto mentioned her local student union threatened legal action against her. The article in question covered the closure of a campus restaurant and points out recent $63k in pay raises. She’s been publicly accused of making false claims and being biased. If anyone knows of Canadian resources similar to the SPLC, shoot her a direct message on Twitter.

Developing an online business model course

This topic came about based on Andrew Dunn‘s idea for a class about jour business models. His post suggested a series of case studies about print and online business models of the past and present. The final project:

Develop a business model for a news organization of your choosing. Use your knowledge of what has worked and what is failing to make it the most likely for success. Must argue for why it will work.

A few thoughts about the course:

  • It could be proposed and taken as an independent study course
  • Students could join to create the course with podcasts and webinars, etc. and sell it
  • Students/professionals could self-learn and connect once a week over Skype with discussion

Transition plan for a digital newsroom

This topic was inspired by Daniel Bachhuber‘s recent blog post about how to turn the Daily Emerald into “a successful digital news enterprise.”

Daniel suggests a three step process to achieve the transformation:

  • Step one: Develop a strategic plan during a week-long, open and participatory retreat
  • Step two: Involve alums in the process and campaign to raise the funds
  • Step three: Implement the plan by going open source, printing only once a week, and empowering your community

The one problem chatters had with the blog post was the notion of moving to print once a week. Why:

There’s no constraints, but I think the Emerald’s (and any college paper’s) comparative advantage is that they have a passive audience. Students read the paper in class. -@cjciaramella

The fact is online revenues as they stand won’t support newsrooms -@suzanneyada

also, we need to consider reader behavior. Especially on a college campus, I think more people will grab a print edition and read it front-to-back (while bored in class) than go online for the same news. -@jackiehai

The general consensus was that baby steps are best; get in the habit of going web-first before going web-only.

(The full text of the chat is here). Next week’s chat is the same time (8-11 EST) and same place (except next week there won’t be a superbowl going on to distract people from participating).