I was in Salt Lake this morning for a meeting and stopped by the KCPW offices at Library Square to talk to the News Director, Bryan Schott. Bryan was telling me about Open Source, a radio program that they air in the evenings and it's innovative mix of podcasting, blogging, and radio programming. Open Source is the brain child of Christopher Lydon, a Massachusetts radio producer who learned about blogging and podcasting when Dave Winer was doing his fellowship at Harvard's Berkman Center. Chris explains Open Source's philosophy:
Everything we do at Open Source will be “open to inspection, improvement, adoption and reuse,” in Doc Searls‘ neat formulation. We will make all the content of Open Source available under a Creative Commons license for non-commercial use, with the standard proviso that our work is credited and further use is open. (That is my voice on the Creative Commons flash video, Get Creative.) We will stay abreast of the technology for searching and excerpting our audio files and archives.
But all that is, in a sense, mechanics. The spirit of Open Source will be open source — open as to subject matter, open as to views and voices. Our favorite oft-times caller on the original Connection, the famous Amber, once remarked to me: “Chris, you treat your callers like guests and your guests like callers.” We will try to extend the same open manners to the new show, and to the new website that comes with it. We chose Open Source as a name to live up to.
Bryan is working very hard to bring the same philosophy to KCPW's programming by bringing the listeners into the process of deciding what to cover, what questions to ask, and even letting them be the reporters. For example, he has Ethan, of SLCSpin, roving the Capitol, covering the 2006 Legislative session. Bryan's Midday Metro blog solicits listener interaction and gives a heads up into what's coming up.
Just a few minutes before stopping in to see Bryan, I'd read an interesting post from Mr. Snitch about how a flood of startup money may enable a flood of pro bloggers. Mr. Snitch posited two different kinds of professional blogs, ones like Gawker and, frankly, Between the Lines where the brand was separable from the blogger and others where the blogger was the brand. In the first, the individual bloggers can be swapped out (and have, from time to time) without readers much caring. In the second, the blogger is indispensable--without him or her, the blog ends. Mr. Snitch in more interested in the second kind of blog professionalizing and what that might mean:
How will these local reporters get paid? Seems to us, they'd be paid by the number of readers they attract. This is hardly a novel concept (syndicated writers such as Dear Abby have always outearned lesser-known local scribes), so we can't see where Gather et al are off-base here.
As online local news matures, local writers with an eye toward national and world news will also be in demand. We envision writers such as Fausta not only making a living (doing what she's now doing without compensation), but weighing competing offers for her services.
This struck a nerve with me, because a friend of mine, John Jonas, had just told me about a blogging site he'd started a while back after a long conversation we'd had called writingup.com. John's idea was to create a site where individual bloggers create content about almost anything they're interested in. They enter their own Google AdSense account into the writingup.com sign-up process and then the site automatically serves up ads from their account--every other one. So, by writing on the site, they share in the profits that their content produces in a very equitable and easy to manage way. John's already had 4000 people sign up. There will be a lot of breakage to be sure, but it's clearly the longtail application of the Gawker model. What's more the bloggers are building their own brand on the site.
In "We the Media," Dan Gillmor discusses grassroots journalism and the way it's transforming the media. These and hundreds of other examples show how this is happening, one innovative idea at a time, all around us.