From ONA: Entrepreneurial journalism (life after the mainstream).

September 23rd, 2011

With all the layoffs in the news industry in the past few years, it’s easy to get down on journalism. However, journalism is not dead, it’s adapting.

Two people who know that better than just about anyone are Laura Frank and Jennifer Lord Paluzzi. The two former mainstream journalism employees spoke Friday morning at the Online News Association Conference about how they lost, adapted, survived and eventually thrived as journalists.

Frank, who worked at the Rocky Mountain News (which shut down in 2009), decided to create a news startup, the Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network, when she was laid off. The I-News Network is a nonprofit investigative organization that has found its way.

Frank, the networks executive director, says the organization makes ends meet in the following ways:

* Donations and grants (which she said was the seed money)

* Underwriting (the nonprofit world’s version of advertising)

* Partnerships with mainstream media.

* Products and services – As an example, Frank said the organization created a summer camp for high school students interested in investigative reporting.

Frank said the key is to “dip your toe in.”

“I’m not going to launch USA Today right away, but I’m going take steps that lead me toward my goals.”

Paluzzi, the managing editor of Main Street Connect in Massachusetts, said she capitalized on a small-but-growing blog about small-town news when she got laid off.

She said her former colleagues probably belittled her little blog until it grew into a nine-site network. She said they were then saying, “Why did we lay you off again?”

Paluzzi sought to cover small towns that were ignored by regional newspapers, which had cut back on coverage.

“The blog blossomed into something quite bigger than what I expected. That’s the fun part.”

- Robert Quigley


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