Knight Lab Year Two: Progress, use cases and feedback

by Denise Cheng, MIT Center for Civic Media

Rich Gordon and his Northwestern colleagues have had a presence at Block by Block for all three years, and under the banner of Knight News Innovation Lab for the last two. At one of the closing sessions for BxB12, Gordon and several of the Knight Laboratorists presented the progress of some of Knight Lab’s most exciting tools, seeking publishers’ feedback and intent to use.

Seeded with a $4.2 million grant from the Knight Foundation, the lab is a collaboration between Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“We develop software that serves the mission of journalism, media and publishing, and/or an informed citizenry,” the slide deck reads, and projects fall into three Continue reading

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BlockbyBlock 2012 kicks off: Publishers discuss the art of the business pivot


Rusty Coats, principal of Coats2Coats,  kicked off the opening panel of the 2012 BlockbyBlock Community News Summit challenging local indie online news publishers to honestly answer three questions: Is this my hobby or is this my full-time job? What pivots has your business taken since you made that decision? How has your business changed because of those pivots?

David Boraks of Davidson, Denise Civiletti of RiverheadLOCAL, Amy Senk of Corona Del Mar Today and Tracey Taylor of Berkeleyside rose to the challenge in a conversation that ranged from where they started to where they hope to go and detailed the business pivots that have helped them grow as entrepreneurs along the way.

A pivot is when a business starts out as one thing and evolves into something else as it grows. Working from passion doesn’t make a business unless you learn to make a plan, Continue reading

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Photos: The first day of BxB 2012



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Put metrics to work for you

If you can’t measure it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. That was Susan Mernit‘s message to the roomful of publishers who gathered for her session on harnessing metrics. “Think about how hard you work,” Mernit went on to say. “If you can’t measure your efforts, you’re in effect working for nothing.”

It was soon apparent that the publishers sitting around the table had a basic understanding of metrics and the tools to analyze them like Google Analytics, but didn’t know how to find all the info they needed, go in-depth on the numbers or make strategic decisions based on them. Luckily, Susan’s presentation (which you should check out in its entirety) answered many questions about how to use metrics to plan and strategize.

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Photos: From the afternoon sessions of BxB 2012


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Run Your News Business, Don’t Be It

Rusty Coats, Coats2Coats

If you don’t make time to think about your business, you’ll be given time to think about your news business – because you will no longer have one.

That was the message from Rusty Coats of Coats2Coats, moderater of “The Discipline to Succeed” breakout session this afternoon at the Block by Block Community News Summit in Chicago.

Once you decide you’re going to run a business, said Coats, “build a business plan. After that, things will start to happen incredibly fast for you.”

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It’s a must: CRM for indie news sites

Eleanor Cippel talking about CRM systems

Whether you are managing an entire sales team for your site or if you’re the lone wolf selling advertising, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system will make your life easier.

In Eleanor Cippel’s breakout session, “Turning Prospects into Dollars,” she shared the benefits of using CRM for indie new sites.

Benefits of using CRM for indie news sites

  • A CRM system provides reminders and alerts that will keep you on top of your sales activity.  It gives you a good lens into your advertiser’s business.
  • A CRM system helps you manage revenue opportunity.  It helps you see where you are and where you need to go.
  • A CRM system helps you organize and prioritize your sites sales activity.
  • As a sales manager/publisher, you can use a CRM system as a communication tool Continue reading
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Andy Crestodina’s lowdown on journalism SEO for local publishers

by Denise ChengMIT Center for Civic Media

Andy Crestodina’s premise: I love NPR. Therefore, I want to help save the news industry.

“I’ve been looking for you guys and I finally found you. I was looking for a room where I could teach some web marketing skills … because if journalists have this in their back pocket, I think it will make a big difference in the long run.”

Crestodina switched careers to web design in 2000, and soon after, he realized that to Continue reading

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The Money in Mobile: Making your website mobile-friendly

A growing percentage of news traffic is coming from younger readers who use mobile devices.

A growing percentage of news traffic is coming from younger readers who use mobile devices.

By Ruffin Prevost

The mobile ad market appears to be poised for explosive growth in the years ahead, and local news publishers need to be prepared to take advantage of that opportunity.

While it may seem important to have a mobile-friendly web site to earn money from mobile ads, it’s even more important to make your site a mobile news site to hang on to your readers, said Amy Gahran during her 2012 Block By Block Community News Summit presentation, “The Money in Mobile.”

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Good financial order spells success for news entrepreneurs

By Suzanne McBride

No matter your size or business model, you need to get your financial house in order if you want to grow – or just continue operating, says Emily Lowery of Magic City Post.

It’s critical that you have updated financials – income and cash flow statements, a balance Continue reading

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