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JEEcamp 2009

“It’s not a revolution if no one gets hurt” – Thomas Friedman

On Friday I attended JEEcamp – an ‘unconference’ aimed at journalists and publishers to look at how the industry could deal with the decline of regional journalism, effects of the recession, citizen journalism and general online media.

The keynote speech by Kyle McRae, the founder of a photo-agency that attempted to trade citizen’s photographs to the papers, was fascinating.  Scoopt was a brilliant concept to hear about, which never really worked because it lacked fundamental networks and resources.  He spoke of the lessons learnt and how the concept grew from an idea to a company to then be sold to Getty and subsequently closed down.

The failing business models for newspaper publishing were heavily discussed.  One attendee was a woman who’d volunteered for her local paper for years, unpaid, was now moving onto a qualification and away from regional journalism because she felt there was no hope in regional press.  From what I’d heard we weren’t the only group to discuss work experience, although members the break-out group I observed felt this woman had been exploited, others have posted to say that one newspaper publisher was looking to charge people for work experience.

The Friedman quote above (which is actually talking about the green revolution) summed up the feeling I got from the event.  There was a great deal of concern about the decline of regional journalism, something which worries my colleagues in hospital communications, as regional journalism is our “bread and butter”, to quote the head of my department.  But the journalists at JEEcamp were understandably more worried about it.  There have been large numbers of job cuts and reshuffles in regional journalism recently and this seems to be a continuing trend.

JEEcamp didn’t seem to give any concrete answers to what the new course would be but it did give some fantastic ideas.  Particularly a view to hyper-local media that would focus on a further niche market than current regional journalism and a need for a new, sustainable business model.  Something that is particularly topical as Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp (owner of The Times, Sun and News of the World), announced that they were considering charging for more of their Internet content.  Whatever the model becomes, the influx of citizen journalism and social media in recent years can only serve to force journalism and their publishing houses into a more robust model that knows it cannot rest on its laurels and has to be better.

*This was originally posted on my old blog BeanHeartBatman*

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