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?
- 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.