New Media Journalism

The Purpose

Between 2009 and 2013, The Patterson Foundation partnered with Coats2Coats Consultancy to explore ways to support digital media innovation while upholding established journalistic principles and delivering value to communities. The partners worked closely together to facilitate conversations within journalism communities and create resources to enable practitioners to share insights.

The Partnership

After gathering input from more than 50 practitioners, researchers and innovators, The Patterson Foundation and Coats2Coats Consultancy worked with a variety of organizations, including The Knight Foundation, Reynolds Journalism Institute, LION Publishers, the Chicago Community Trust and Loyola University, providing business training and venues for discussion on innovation to community journalists. A lasting tool is the Journalism Accelerator, a digital platform that enables online conversations via a moderator who conducts research, recruits participants and facilitates the conversation to reveal actionable insights.

The Impact of New Media Journalism

2012 (February) - The Patterson Foundation funds Super Camp, a mentoring and training program that helps online community news publishers create and execute sustainable business plans.

2012 (September) - With consulting support from The Patterson Foundation, LION, a virtual association for independent online news publishers, forms.

2011 (October) - Journalism Accelerator, an online community for journalism innovators created through the New Media Journalism Initiative, launches.

2010 (October) - The Patterson Foundation supports the inaugural Block by Block Community News Summit in Chicago, which brings together independent online news publishers from across the country for the first time.


Click on a question below to view its answer.

  1. What is the New Media Journalism Initiative working on?
    The New Media Journalism Initiative supports journalism innovators in two ways:
    • By investing in networks that connect innovators and enable them to grow and thrive. To do that, we've been working on a project called The Journalism Accelerator.The Journalism Accelerator is an online collaboration community that allows innovators to pose questions and work together in discovering possible solutions and better practices.
    • By focusing on the need for journalism innovators to achieve financial sustainability. We are piloting a mentoring program called "Super Camp," in which we've worked with 12 promising, entrepreneurial community publishers to provide them with coaching and financial mentoring. Through this program, incubated in partnership with the Knight Digital Media Center and its executive director Vikki Porter, we're helping these publishers develop business plans and the tactics to execute on them to improve financial performance.
  2. Can you tell us more about how the Journalism Accelerator works?
    The Journalism Accelerator is a combination of high-touch and smart technology. We partnered with Lisa Skube during her fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute to help her team develop the Journalism Accelerator.

    The Journalism Accelerator approach has combined readily available, open-source technology tools in a way that promotes online collaboration. The Journalism Accelerator method focuses on identifying a "how" or "why" question related to journalism innovation, recruiting smart thinkers on that topic to participate in a real-time conversation and then drawing from that conversation the resources that can help provide solutions. The Journalism Accelerator tracks the activity of its participants, building a directory of practitioners with expertise that we can connect with those in need.
  3. What are you finding out about financial sustainability through the "Build It Up" program?
    Financial sustainability is the key issue facing all aspects of journalism today. The financial models that fueled journalism for decades have collapsed, and the innovations that are rising up in the field have yet to develop strong economic underpinnings. By working directly with community-level, entrepreneurial publishers, we're discovering what tactics and techniques can create lift for these publishers. Our goal is to take what we are learning with this pilot project and work with other funders and journalism organizations to apply those lessons more broadly across journalism.
  4. Are there other projects the New Media Journalism Initiative is involved in incubating?
    Yes. We've worked with Michele McLellan, a past Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow, in her efforts to identify and support community-focused entrepreneurial publishers.

    That work led to two gatherings of these publishers called the Block by Block: Community News Summit, the first in September 2010 and the second in September 2011. Block by Block marked the first large-scale assembly of community news entrepreneurs to share emerging best practices and work to solve common problems. We're now working with these publishers as they begin moving toward forming their own organization to take responsibility for further developing this network.
  5. What's next?
    Our focus in 2012 is learning from both the Journalism Accelerator and the "Build It Up" programs and feeding what we've learned into the larger community of funders and educational institutions working to build journalism's future. We will also focus on how what we've learned in the New Media Journalism Initiative can be applied to other aspects of The Patterson Foundation's ongoing work.