Teaching Online Journalism

Seeking a business model for journalism

I came across this chart on a blog authored by three Australian business scholars:

The original comes from Steven Johnson’s presentation at SXSW earlier this year, and when I followed the link to his post, I remembered reading it. But I guess I didn’t really spend much time on the chart that time around; I didn’t remember the chart at all. Now I’m thinking it’s a pretty neat representation of this “ecosystem” of news and information.

Tim Kastelle points out that “the functions that seem to make money in these type of systems are aggregating and filtering” — and thus when we brainstorm about new business models, we need to look deeply at those functions.

What I like most about the chart is that it tries to represent the news environment as it is now, without skewing it toward some idealistic model that doesn’t reflect reality. What I don’t agree with is those one-way arrows — everything in this model flows in two directions now.

Categories: ideas


  1. [...] MacAdams problematiza levemente a busca por novos modelos de negócio no jornalismo, assunto que vem crescendo em complexidade e importância com a crise dos jornais [...]

  2. Martha Rojas says:

    I would like to know in simple words what would be the new model of bussiness in journalism. Practically I see only advertising, or selling news, or getting donations, Is there a new one?
    Thank you and regards.

  3. Tim Kastelle says:

    Thanks very much for the mention Mindy. Thanks also for the Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency, which is a fantastic resource. I agree with you that the arrows need to be pointing in both directions in the diagram – and I also think that different successful business models will each have unique combinations of functions taken from among those in the chart.

    Martha – I think that those are still probably the three methods of payment that are most likely to work, but that the important shift to make is to start thinking about what news-related functions can best generate revenue from those sources. I think that the politico.com model is a good one – I describe it in some detail here:


  4. This is indeed very interesting – I’m hoping you got my note yesterday about trying to establish a virtual business incubator for the journalism industry. The simple truth is no one has figured out the new business model. An incubator might be able to give entrepreneurial journalists an opportunity to start up new models and we can all see which ones might grow and thrive.


  5. KevinG says:

    It is an interesting diagram. A couple of things came to mind while pondering it over the last day or so:

    1) There is only two sources of revenue for journalism: advertising and donation. Donations sustain NPR but are unlikely to sustain many large organizations.

    2) Overlaying the heirarchy of generation, commentary, curation and distribution ( a hangover from tradtional models ? ) may obscure where future opportunites lie.

    3) Future opportunities are more likely to be smaller in scale. It is becoming a long tail business environment. Looking for ways to rebuild large vertical organizations in the short term is not likely to be productive.

    3a) It seems likely that lessons could be drawn from the telecoms industry of 20 and 30 years ago. That is monopoly to lots of smaller scale providers, to specialization leading back to working verticals.

    4) Content based niches are successfull at creating a following and should be able to generate revenue from that following.

    5) Agregators will always have eyeballs. Aren’t the current forces driving traditional media into the roll of aggregators?

  6. Lisa Weidman says:

    I agree that this is a useful way to think about the ecosystem of news and information. But, Tim,
    don’t you think that PR professionals should be added to the list of news creators? They are as much a source of news content as direct events–and they are going direct to their target audiences (i.e., bypassing traditional news media) more and more these days.

  7. Tim Kastelle says:

    Lisa, PR should definitely be included somewhere, as it is a function that clearly is playing a role in news generation. Just to clarify, the diagram originated with Steven Johnson – so he should get the credit for the thinking behind it.

  8. [...] or service fits within the ecosystem that surrounds it. For journalism, this means thinking about all of the functions in Steven Johnson’s news ecosystem model. You can create an innovative business model by [...]

  9. [...] para Mindy McAdams, jornalista que atua na área de ensino, o gráfico de Johnson, [...] tenta representar o ambiente [...]

  10. Imran says:

    I just did an analysis on using adverts as a business model for journalism that you might be interested in:


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