Crystalizing talking points for MoJo

Phillip Smith’s “Catalyzing news innovation” post contains crucial ideas and talking points for MoJo. Especially given the back-and-forth and real-world testing with Geoff Samek — one of the smart folks behind the online news start-up Sacramento Press — who has written a pair of extremely thoughtful posts on this as well here.

Here’s a quick dirty capture of their talking points. For us to bake into our messaging for the upcoming MoJo web site launch. These are meant to supplement — not replace — the messaging already on the MoJo wiki and in our most recent Board Slides.

What are we looking for?

Ideas that:
  • Are highly innovative, with potential for broad adoption in the news community.
  • Useful to real-world media organizations, or born out of long-established newsroom experience.
  • Produce re-usable, open-source software that benefits the web as a whole.

How is our approach different? What do we want to do?

  • Empower tech people. Bring Silicon Valley-style innovation to news, instead of the same-old Old Media mindset.
  • Seek proposals from non-journalists and fund them.
  • Create challenges and pitch contests for entrepreneurs looking to fund really  outside the box ideas.
  • Direct money to fund breakthrough  innovations, instead of just specific stories.
  • Take more  risk. Give out more grants, smaller grants, and ask different people to  take that risk. People outside the traditional comfort zone.
  • Don’t just push the large players forward an inch. Focus on pushing the entire industry forward a mile.

Why is Mozilla interested in news?

  • To advance its mission of protecting the open nature of the Internet.
  • We want to ensure that the same ideas that make the web awesome — openness,  generativity, co-creation, massive collaboration, “hacking” and Maker Culture — are embedded and embraced by news organizations around the world.
  • Our theory of change is: “The web is changing, and journalism is changing with it.”
  • Put another way: news organizations have a massive influence over the web’s future. The Knight-Mozilla project wants to ensure they change it for the better. And vice versa.

Working with news partners to disrupt the market

  • By working with some of the world’s leading news partners, we’re aiming for the broadest possible exposure of the new ideas that  come out of our design challenges and fellowships.
  • We believe these ideas will be embraced  by news organizations of all shapes and sizes, both ‘traditional’ and  radically new.
  • The emphasis is on news partners that can host fellows effectively: embracing innovation and committing to really implement new ideas and software.

Protecting the web and journalism from new risks

  • Start-up frenzy is resulting in the “appification” of everything. This  is reinforcing some negative trends:
  • encroachment on user privacy
  • social silos
  • less focus on the creation of free and  open-source software.
  • We need to guard against market failure and business models that involve lock-in or threaten consumer choice.
  • And also financial failure. We don’t just need ideas, but also the financial models that can sustain those ideas.
  • Those models will take a broad range of forms. From ‘values-based’ start-ups to ‘public trusts’ to traditional news organizations to new for-profit start-ups.
Comments welcome.

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