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In our findings the business models of the cases fall into two main categories: those which have storytelling-orientated business models and those which rely on a more service-orientated model.

The sites whose business model is based around storytelling are still prevalent in our findings. These sites focus on making money from producing original content, news and stories, for audiences. The difference to the mass media model is that in the online world the target audience is smaller. Online journalism relies heavily on niche audiences built around targeted themes such as hobbies, neighborhoods or psychographic tendencies. In this niche journalism there is a tight triangulation between journalistic content and advertised products.

The other group, service-oriented business models, seems to be growing. This group consists of sites that don’t try to monetize the journalistic content as such. For example citizen journalism sites are more like platforms that curate and moderate citizen-oriented content, or news aggregators compile stories form other outlets. Some startups have specialized in selling technology, information, training or diversifying to redefine what it means to do news.

New research: The SuBMoJour study maps sustainable journalistic startups in nine countries. It includes an online database detailing the business models of these entrepreneurial sites.

Late last year I curated a week of posts for In Media Res, a superb project that brings anthropologists together to talk about online video.  Writing fascinatingly alongside me were Sarah Van Deusen Phillips, Melissa Gira-Grant and Leshu Torchin.  Here’s my post, originally published here:

Shaky, grainy, traumatic footage filmed on mobile phones wielded by brave citizens – from Burma to Tibet to Iran – has fast become both part of and fuel for contemporary narratives of uprising, struggle and repression – and it increasingly represents one of the key acts of resistance that individual citizens in repressive societies can make.  While this now makes it seem almost commonplace in the rituals of human rights media, it wasn’t always thus.

I’ve been tracking, analysing and curating human rights video online for the human rights organisation WITNESS since the middle of 2006, initially via a blog aiming to unearth examples of activists using new technologies to document, expose and bring an end to human rights violations.  A large number of stories were about mobile phone video – from police cells in Egypt to the execution of Saddam Hussein – and strikingly the most compelling, unvarnished and actionable footage often came from the cameras of the human rights abusers themselves.

Most of these cases showed networked technologies could reinforce repression – specifically taking mobile footage of humiliation, beatings, abuse, torture, happening in secret places, to show it directly to those you want to intimidate, and to circulate it more widely via Bluetooth “pour encourager les autres”.  But in a certain number of instances case the videos found their way into the hands of outraged activists who spread and publicised the abuses online, to often global attention, with the long-term effect of focusing attention, activism, and advocacy to the governments tolerating or sponsoring these abuses, or at the very least, to undermine officially sanctioned or imposed narratives of law, order, justice.

Some videos, however, don’t make the same dent.  Read More

Len Kendall and Daniel Honigman are running a daily project called the3six5 – “365 days told by 365 different people.” They kindly invited me to participate, and I chose Sunday, January 10th.

This means that I am the Gujarati filling in a Indian sandwich. What other patterns shall we discern by year’s end? Will Len and Daniel be revealed as God-like artist-watchmakers with an impossibly vast yet detailed vision like Aaron Koblin?

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