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JOMC 890.1: Saving Journalism

Philip Meyer (   340 Carroll Hall, Tuesday 2-4:45 p.m.

          Where is the audience for news going? What can be done to get it back? To answer these questions, we’ll examine the decline of the newspaper business model and the rise of new media forms that hold some promise for providing the information that democracy needs to function.

          Guest speakers from the front lines of change will join us. We’ll look at case studies of interesting new media forms and try to think of ways to contrast and compare their journalism with the kind traditionally produced by newspapers. Some data analysis is included in the course, but it assumes no prior experience with statistics.

          The course grade will be based on three written assignments:

1.    An evaluation of a non-conventional news operation: 10%

2.    A book report: 10%

3.    A business plan for the creation of a new medium from scratch, using the technology or technologies of your choice. Write it as a proposal to a venture capitalist or foundation (depending on whether you see it as a profit or non-profit enterprise): 80%

Reading List


            Dan Gillmor, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People. O’Reilly Media, 2004.

            Mark Briggs, Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and Thrive, a digital literacy guide to the information age. J-Lab, 2007.  (For updates, check out this site: DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. IT WILL BE HANDED OUT IN CLASS.

Recommended reading:


            Leo Bogart, Preserving the Press: How Daily Newspapers Mobilized to Keep Their Readers, Columbia University Press, 1991     

            Jeff Chester, Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy
The New Press, 2007    

Clayton Christensen and Michael E. Raynor, The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth, Harvard Business School Press, 2003.

.             Stephen D. Cooper, Watching the Watchdog: Bloggers as the Fifth Estate. Marquette Books, 2006.

            Scott Gant, We’re All Journalists Now: the Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age, Free Press, 2007.

Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect. Three Rivers Press, 2001.

            Philip Meyer, The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age. University of Missouri Press, 2004.

            Ithiel de Sola Pool, Forecasting the Telephone: A Retrospective Technology Assessment of the Telephone. Ablex, 1982.

            Michael E. Porter, Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Free Press, 1998.

            Robin Roger, Blogging to Stay in the Black, M.A. thesis, UNC-CH, 2006

            Jay Rosen, What Are Journalists For? Yale University Press, 2001.


            Theodore Levitt, Marketing Myopia, Harvard Business Review 53 (September-October 1975).

            Richard Maisel, “The Decline of Mass Media,” Public Opinion Quarterly, 37:2 (Summer 1973) 159-70.

            Donald L. Shaw, “The Rise and Fall of Mass Media,” Roy W. Howard Lecture, Indiana University, April 4, 1991.

Web Sources

                        Jean Folkerts, “Change Is No Death Knell,”

Dan Gillmor’s blog:

Ephraim Schwartz, “The Demise of Google,”

            Jeff Howe, “Did Assignment Zero Fail? A look back and lessons learned,”

            Jay Rosen, “Laying the Newspaper Gently Down to Die,”

            Jay Rosen, “The People Formerly Known as the Audience,”

            Rick Edmonds, “Breaking News Is Back in Style,”

            Tom Stites, “Is Media Performance Democracy’s Critical Issue?”

            Philip Meyer, “Public Journalism and the Problem of Objectivity,”

            And please browse:



JOMC 890.001

Fall 2007







Aug. 21

State of the news business. Case study assignments. Goals of the course

Meyer and his PowerPoint




Aug. 28

A history of the Carboro Citizen

Kirk Ross: How to start a newspaper from scratch




Sept. 4

“Notes on Marketing Arithmetic” and

“Mercury Rising”

Meyer on solving the break-even problem. Case study discussion.




Sept. 11

Electronic paper. Has its time arrived?


Bob Steinbugler, IBM




Sept. 18

Can journalism be crowd sourced?

Tish Grier on Assignment Zero




Sept. 25

Voices from the crowd

Paul Jones, guest





Oct. 2

The non-profit model

Chuck Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity




Oct. 9

Another non-profit model

Geoff Dougherty, founder of Chi-Town Daily News




Oct. 23

Book Reports





Oct. 30

Evaluation Reports





Nov. 6






Nov. 13






Nov. 20

Term Paper Reports





Nov. 27

Term Paper Reports





Dec. 4

Summary and Evaluation