Saturday, November 10, 2007

More About Outsourcing News Production

News organizations give the impresion that they do not publish news produced by independent "suppliers." The wire services don't seem to count. And I think the concept of stringers has been around for a while. So they do source their content. Nothing wrong with that: it's efficient. (So long as it really is journalism. Trojan horse fake news packages abound: )

Yesterday I mentioned Pro Publica, a new enterprise that will produce investigative journalism for downstream distribution to newspapers. It's just the next step in the natural unwinding of integrated stages of news production. It happens naturally in industries where scale and scope economies are possible. Sometimes public policy "encourages" it as it did in the U.S. with the Paramount Decrees, the old Fin-Syn rules, the MFJ of 1982 and the 1992 Cable Act.

Here's another new kind of news "supplier" : It's photo-journalism for sale (sometimes to the highest bidder -- more about that later). Partly a response to newspapers' cutting back on their in-house photo-journalism, Brian Storm, a photo-journalist himself launched the firm because, "It’s simply not that hard to create a good financial structure for photojournalism," as he told me in an interview last May.

Storm, like Steiger with Pro Publica, recognized an opportunity. "I think photojournalism is super important to the way people understand the world."

And then, like all media entrepreneurs I call "media missionaries," he uttered these words: “I didn’t want to start this thing…You know I didn’t start it as a business…I mean I’m an entrepreneur but I’m more an entrepreneur with a mission.”

p.s. When you go to mediastorm's site, you MUST view Kingsley's Crossing A riveting story told in photojournalism.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Entrepreneur Starts Investigative Journalism Enterprise

Paul E. Steiger, editor at the Wall Street Journal is launching Pro Publica, an organization to produce and distribute investigative journalism to media outlets who've stopped producing the product themselves. See the Times story at Mr. Steiger's leap into media entrepreneurship is the clearest example I've yet seen of a media missionary doing what comes naturally to all entrepreneurs: perceiving an opportunity and acting on it. Granted, the revenue model seems to rely on cash infusions from Steiger's wealthy partners. But I see the potential for it to morph into a conventional sales model driven by a natural evolution in the business. In the same way that Henry Ford's original River Rouge model (produce every input of an automobile in a single plant) gave way to today's system of auto makers sourcing most parts, the emergence of Pro Publica looks like one of many suppliers to the news distribution sector. It's more efficient.