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Facebook + Journalism 101Facebook + Journalism 101 Academia could be more social. So recently, I setup a Facebook Group for "Social Journalism Educators" to be able to connect and share resources around how they are teaching...

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My Next Chapter: Facebook JournalismMy Next Chapter: Facebook Journalism This was originally posted on my Facebook Page. Also, read CNN's coverage of my new role. ------ I am honored to announce that I will be joining Facebook as Journalist...

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Is Sharing More Valuable for Publishers on Facebook or Twitter? [STATS] Is Sharing More Valuable for Publishers on Facebook... This is an excerpt of analysis I recently wrote on Mashable about how our Twitter users interact with our content vs. those on Facebook. The result: Facebook's click-per-share...

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Facebook & Its Growing Role in Social JournalismFacebook & Its Growing Role in Social Journalism This is an excerpt from a post I recently reported for Mashable.com. Read the full piece here. A Facebook-only news organization? It was only a matter of time. The...

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New to Twitter? Here Are 12 Tips From the CommunityNew to Twitter? Here Are 12 Tips From the Community For someone just starting out on Twitter, the social information network can be intimidating. It has its own language, limitations, and features that are very unique to the...

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Vadim Lavrusik Rss

Journalism Schools Should Stop Producing Content That Lives on Islands

Posted on : 21-01-2011 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Higher Education, Journalism school, Online Journalism

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The days of journalism school content living on islands that are not a part of their community should come to end. One of the ways this can be accomplished is by having journalism schools partner with campus business schools in which students from both schools work collaboratively on maintaining a living, breathing monetized news website or mobile product.

This will be my recommendation as part of the collaborative Carnival of Journalism topic, “The changing role of Universities for the information needs of a community,” and an upcoming round-table organized by David Cohn at Missouri.

In general, I think David hit it on the head when he said that at many schools, the journalism that students produce is “museum work.” It is work that is produced in a vacuum, only to be read and seen by the professors, students and sources.

In the last 5 years, journalism schools have taken a step in showcasing student work on their websites, and in some cases, like my experience at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, producing entire websites or in-depth web projects. Students are progressively able to learn to produce for the web and the web, learning multimedia and social media skills. At Columbia, almost every class had a dedicated website that either covered a neighborhood or specific topic. The problem is few people actually visited these websites because of a lack of outreach or as soon as they gained momentum they were killed off at the end of class.


Why Working With Business Schools Makes Sense


The idea behind “vacuum” journalism environments is that it creates a safe environment for students to learn, make mistakes, screw up and improve their craft. This perhaps reduces student fear and provides them with the skills they need before they jump into a “real” journalism organization, where brand is at stake.

That makes sense, but what about students that have gained fundamental skills and would like to improve their craft in the environment and pressures that working in a news organization provides? The economic pressures felt by journalists in newsrooms across the country? The pressure that forces journalists to become entrepreneurial and innovative in their solutions to journalism’s current challenges? This is why partnering with business schools makes sense.

It could start with a collaborative  class, in which both journalism school students and business school students maintain and manage a website or mobile-only news product focused on a local community that is constantly updated. I include mobile because I think mobile-only news products will become more prominent and an options as more readers consume their news on-the-go. The coverage would be focused on a community of need, combined with market research to show whether there is business demand.

This class would have to be offered year-round to be successful in building an audience and attracting interest from advertisers. The revenue generated would go to pay costs for the website and the students. And no, paying students for their journalism school work is not unheard of. At my undergraduate journalism school at the University of Minnesota, I was able to participate in a paid internship at the Star Tribune, the daily metro newspaper. The internship was really a class through the school, taught by a professor. So why not have students get paid for their work for a website they maintain and manage?

Economic incentive would force the websites and students to do more outreach and community engagement, something that has become almost expected of journalists today. The sites would no longer just be islands consumed by the few, but would instead grow into resources for local communities. It wouldn’t be easy, of course. It would take real sacrifice from students working together to build a sustainable destination for local journalism. But it could be possible if it is addressing a need for content in an under-covered community.

Not only would this provide adequate training for the journalism students, but it would also train the business school students on media and online economics and sales. And perhaps more importantly, if done right, it would fill a gap in news in a community that have had its news source recently face cutbacks.

The days of content produced by journalism students living on an island are gone, not only for the sake of students getting proper training but also the community continuing to be informed.

Nonprofit journalism startups’ executive pay: How much is too much?

Posted on : 22-01-2010 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Online Journalism

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Bay Area News Project’s CEO Lisa Frazier has a $400,000 salary, which reminds me of the news and criticisms about Paul Steiger getting $570,000 to run ProPublica. This begs the question: how much is too much in the pay of top execs at nonprofit journalism startups.

A lot of the defense for such high pay is that these are people who are very qualified and some earned much more at previous jobs (where they also managed larger operations). Look at the many startup models where the CEO or founders don’t get paid all that much until the model is proven sustainable financially. Why should journalism startups be any different?

18 news media content and business trends for 2010

Posted on : 23-12-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Online Journalism

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This is an excerpt from the second of several posts I wrote for Mashable.com that takes a look at the news media in 2010. It looks at 10 news media content trends:

The news media is experiencing a renaissance. As we end the year, its state in 2009 can be summarized as a year of turmoil, layoffs and cutbacks in an industry desperately seeking to reinvent its business model and content. But despite the thousands of journalism jobs lost, the future has much hope and opportunity for those that are willing to adapt to a changing industry.

Much of that change is happening now. And in the coming year, news organizations will look to approach monetization and content experimentation that is focused on looking at the web in a new way. News (news) in 2010 will blur the lines between audience and creator more than ever in an era of social media. Below is a look at several trends in content distribution and presentation that we will likely see more of in 2010.


1. Living Stories


Living Stories Image

One of the difficulties of the web is being able to really track a story as it develops and creating engaging formats for long-form articles. The article page is often the only thing that a reader sees and not the story in its full context. In 2010, news organizations will design stories that are more suited to the way readers consume online content.

One early sign of this is the recent collaboration between Google (Google), The New York Times, and The Washington Post on the Living Stories project, an experiment that presents coverage of a specific story or topic in one place, making it easy to navigate the topic and see the timeline of coverage on the story. It also allows you to get a summary of the story and track the conversations taking place. This format contextualizes and personalizes the news.

Read the full post here.

This is an excerpt from the first of several posts I wrote for Mashable.com that takes a look at the news media in 2010. It looks at 8 news media business trends:

With the news industry struggling to find new revenue streams that can reshape their broken business model, 2010 will be defined by experiments in news media monetization. This will also include content that is guided more than ever by the audience and ad revenue.

This coming year we will also see the results of news organizations putting pay walls up, as well as new experimental models like accepting Web donations from readers — some of which may prove to be successful. Below are eight emerging news media business trends to look for in 2010.


1. Social Media Monetization


Statesman Twitter Ad Image

The coming year will see emerging business models, including social media monetization. And as advertisers become more comfortable with advertising in social media, news companies will look to capture those dollars.

“Twitter display ads,” said Matt Thompson, interim online community manager for the Knight Foundation. “I don’t understand why this hasn’t happened yet.”

Thompson pictures a half-page ad that is actually a TwitterTwitterTwitter widget from a retailer’s corporate account. In fact, some news organizations have already experimented with social ads. Robert Quigley, social media editor at the Austin American-Statesman, said they gave Twitter ads a try and have gotten some mixed reactions from followers, but did not lose any of them. The Huffington Post is also going to sell tweets to advertisers.

Read the full post on Mashable here.

Betaworks CEO talks evolution of the Web into a social stream

Posted on : 11-11-2009 | By : shanesnow | In : Business, Search, Social Media

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By SHANE SNOW
Shane is a digital media student at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and founder of the social product site, Scordit.com.

If The Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer were to invest his own money these days, he says he’d invest in either the local web or real-time distribution. That’s exactly why he’s on the board of NY-based Betaworks, the company that brought the world Bit.ly, Outside.in and TweetDeck. Betaworks describes itself as “a new kind of media company.” And CEO John Borthwick joined Lerer yesterday to talk to students at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism about media startups and the future of the web.

News organizations seek new revenue in wine clubs

Posted on : 28-09-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business

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This post is also appearing on a Columbia Journalism School website I write for, which is still currently under construction but will launch some time this week.

USA Today launched a Wine Club earlier this month, joining the list of publications hoping to entice readers to an online community of wine drinkers who buy wines directly from them.

The national newspaper partnered with My Wines Direct to create a Web site wine club where readers can learn about wines that are selected by a tasting panel. Members can then purchase six bottles quarterly online for $69.99 plus shipping.

People gather to taste various wines at Slate's Wine Tasting at Sotheby's Aulden Cellars in August (Photo: Vadim Lavrusik)

People at Slate’s Wine Tasting at Sotheby’s Aulden Cellars in August. (Photo: Vadim Lavrusik)

Large publications are launching similar wine clubs and attaching their publications’ brands to the clubs as part of their exploration of new revenue to help close the gap from a decline in ad spending.

The New York Times launched its wine club in mid-August and other publications, including Forbes and The San Francisco Chronicle, have started their own clubs as well. The Wall Street Journal has had a wine club since last September, while online publications such as Slate are hosting wine tastings.

USA Today had been considering getting into the wine business for some time, said Christy Hartsell, director of brand licensing at USA Today, in an e-mail. The project was in the works for several months and the paper even held various tasting events before the launch, Hartsell said.

More journalism schools should partner with business schools

Posted on : 16-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Higher Education

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Credit: Sean Horan

The title says it all. Today, I start classes at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. And after reading Patrick Thornton’s post on being honest about journalism school and its worth, I started thinking about what I think is missing at many journalism schools today: partnerships with the universities’ business schools.

Thornton talks about how to best acquire necessary journalism skills and why folks shouldn’t go to journalism schools, as well as some mentions of journalism school curricula that are working (Extended Note: Thornton seems to have something against Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, which is where I am currently studying and cites its curriculum as outdated – though it isn’t quite clear why because the opposing examples he provides – one being NYU’s Studio 20 – aren’t much different than the options available at Columbia’s j-school, such as the workshop Nightly News. I think graduate programs in journalism are still valuable in gaining skills, and personally for me, helpful in having M.S. credentials to hopefully teach journalism one day). Anyway, the point is something is missing at many journalism schools that should be available at all. Thornton gets this right:

Here is the rub: If you’re going to attend a journalism program — especially a graduate program — you want to be in a program that will teach you how to start your own projects and be entrepreneurial. You want a program that realizes that the (social) Web is the present and future of journalism.

One thing that schools like CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism have it right is a curriculum that includes an entrepreneurial program as well as The Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Comm at ASU and Medill’s Graduate Journalism Innovations Projects. These are just a few example. But a partnership for journalism students to work together with business school students on websites that provide engaging and quality content but at the same time experiment in creating online revenue models that work should be available at all journalism schools.

In fact, I think it should be available as a specialization track at journalism schools. Though journalism schools have been implementing entrepreneurial and innovations elements into their curricula, one class or projects on the subject is not enough to fully experience what it would take to create a successful startup. Most journalism schools have figured out the need for teaching students essential web skills, and in many cases learning how to start a website and produce content for it in various ways. However, learning how to make that website profitable is just as important.

12 things newspapers should do to survive

Posted on : 14-08-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Newspapers

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Excerpt from a Mashable.com post that I wrote, which was published today:

Though there are countless articles and blog posts sprawled across the web about the dying newspaper industry, this will not be one of them. Some people have even come to the conclusion that journalism itself is dying, yet in reality, journalism is expanding with social media platforms and technology allowing the former audience and sources to become the reporters themselves. Instead of dwelling on the doom and gloom, this post is an attempt at gathering voices in the journalism industry and on the web to give some thought as to what newspapers should be considering in order to survive and evolve with today’s technology-driven, short-attention-span world.

Those who think there is one silver bullet to fix the newspaper business are mistaken. Newspapers have almost always had multiple streams of revenue to support themselves and the future will likely not be any different. That doesn’t mean, however, that the money-making models newspapers will use on the web will look the same as the ones they have used for print.

Newspapers are struggling financially, but ad revenue is predicted to recover slightly in 2010. The underlying issues are not just business-driven, but include issues of structure, culture and the industrialized foundations of distributing newspapers. This list is not a comprehensive one, but these are some of the things that newspaper leaders should be considering. And though print itself may not survive, the organizations behind them provide value to a democratic society, often covering and providing news that blogs with more limited resources can’t always dig up. We welcome comments below with other suggestions of things you think newspaper leaders should try or invest in. Let’s have some dialogue about this topic.

1. Putting web first and reporting from multiple platforms


That might seem like a no-brainer, but this fact is a double-edged sword. Newspapers are often still treating their websites as an afterthought because their advertising revenue is largely still coming from print. At the same time, the shift to getting more revenue from websites won’t happen until the websites are the first priority.

Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, said one of the issues is that reporters have been given a job description that revolves around a single platform (i.e. print journalist), when really journalists need to conceive of the editorial act apart from questions of platforms.

Ultimately, the word “print” needs to be removed from the role of print journalists, said Kevin Sablan, leader of the Orange County Register’s web task force. Reporters need to focus on primarily gathering information and how to present that information in multiple formats: websites, mobile platforms, social networks and finally print.

The reason? Technology is changing the way people consume news, and though many are still getting their news through traditional print outlets, many others are shifting to get their news through various media, such as television, mobile phones, and the web. Ryan Sholin, director of news innovation at Publish2, a company that specializes in link journalism, said journalists now have to be ready to produce journalism on multiple platforms, whether that is tweeting a headline, uploading a video through their iPhone or something else – journalism comes in all shapes and sizes.

Read the full post at Mashable here.

Cutting newspaper expenses is not enough

Posted on : 21-07-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Newspapers

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Photo: Leoncillo Sabino

Great news comes today from McClatchy Company, which is reporting a 50 cents per share growth in the second quarter. Well that is great, especially when a “loss seems certain” and “hardly anything has gone right at the company for the last few years” (those being from the reporter, not the experts) were the phrases from a report anticipating losses of the company just yesterday. So, who brought the champagne? Let’s celebrate. After all, early trading showed a jump in McClatchy’s stock. Not so fast. Read down to about the 11nth graph – skipping all the good news.

Who said journalism is dying?

Posted on : 14-07-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Newspapers, Trends

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Photo credit: <a href=

Maybe I have just learned to ignore the depressing news of the thousands of layoffs at newspapers and other news organizations across the nation and begun to pay more attention to the bright spots in journalism. There are journalism jobs being created what seems like every day.

The advice I have given to myself constantly, and will offer it to anyone that loves storytelling: If you truly want to be a journalist, you will find a way. But if you are one of those reporters or editors dwelling on the “glory days” of newspapers and keep a constant eye on sites like the Newspaper Death Watch or the Journalism is Dead site from Mark Luckie and is a collection of funny quotes on why journalism is dead, then someone needs to scream in your ear and tell you that things have changed. They are going to keep changing. But I am simply more optimistic (and can afford to be – I know things change when you have a mortgage and kids to feed, etc.).  Here are a few reasons why I am optimistic:

The only to-do for journalism graduates: Innovate

Posted on : 06-07-2009 | By : Vadim Lavrusik | In : Business, Online Journalism

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checklistLast week, Mark S. Luckie published a great post on 30 things that recent journalism grads should do this summer. The post included everything from starting a blog to creating a basic slideshow in flash. Though this is a great round-up of things that will improve your standing as a job candidate, I want to emphasize a key skill or ingrained mindset each journalist should have today: innovation.

In my observations, it seems that for the last few years journalists have often been playing catch-up to technologies that have ultimately helped or improved journalists work in reporting and publishing their work. Most of these have been Web technologies (using social media tools like Twitter), but advances in equipment (audio players, flip cams, etc.) have also contributed.