Tag Archives: startups

Calling all AAJA Seattle entrepreneurs!

Posted on by sbhatt

Have you launched your own company recently? Do you have a story to share about your media company?

Our AAJA Seattle membership has many talents, and more and more of them are pursuing their passions as a business. These entrepreneurs are working day and night, seven days a week, to get their ventures off the ground and achieve profitability.

It’s time for them to be recognized for taking a risk and trying to create a new product, service or adventure they can call their own.

Let’s meet three of them.

Calvin Tang, AtlasOmega

Calvin founded social media news web site Newsvine.com in 2005. Two years later, MSNBC bought Newsvine for an undisclosed sum, marking its first acquisition ever. He continued to serve as chief operating officer of Newsvine for the next three years.

From 2005 to 2010, Newsvine grew to over 4 million users, 15 million monthly pageviews and came to power virtually all of interactive features across the MSNBC Digital Network family of brands, including properties such as the NBC Nightly News, TODAY Show and The Rachel Maddow Show.

He also is founder of the Northwest Dive Club, a passion that turned into his next career move.

Earlier this year Calvin left MSNBC to launch AtlasOmega.

Here’s how the site describes its value:

“As we enter the virtual age of ‘the real-time web,’ where stories are packaged into successfully smaller sound-byte sized units, repurposed and republished with little value added – AtlasOmega swims against that current, by producing original, feature quality stories and images about the wildest and least known parts of the world.”

“All of our explorers and adventurers spend enormous amounts of time and energy in the nitty-gritty details of preparation, equipment selection, technique and safety. Yet, these critical aspects are oftentimes never known by the person who enjoys the final result, be it an in-depth story about a pioneering expedition or a stunning set of images that bring to life a lesser known part of the world.”

“AtlasOmega tells the story behind the story, and sets out to answer the question, ‘How did they do that?'”

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Caroline Li, EarthWalkers

Caroline is founder of social media travel web site Earthwalkersmag.com and its print edition, Earthwalkers Magazine. She is also vice president of events for AAJA Seattle, freelances stories and works for TD Wang Advertising Group, a full-service marketing agency that helps companies reach the Asian-American market.

Here’s what Caroline says about her venture:

“I started Earthwalkers because of my love for journalism, travel and international issues. It’s also my answer/vision to next generation journalism.”

“Earthwalkers Magazine and the Earthwalker Community were created so that travelers could make the most out of their travel experiences and continue learning when not traveling. Earthwalkers’ mission is to educate and inform readers about the world through in-depth features and first person stories from the Earthwalker Community. We’re not only building a network for travelers, but a magazine that writers and local bloggers can call their own.”

“The website is a hybrid of user generated content and social network where members are encouraged to share their appreciation for travel by sharing their stories, joining groups and being available to other like-minded travelers around the world.”

“The content on the Earthwalkers website and in the print edition is written by members of the social network. Most stories are written by Earthwalkers that are local bloggers and travel writers while more in-depth features are written by freelance journalists and our Common Language Project team.”

“Through our travels and the people we meet, we hope to unravel the wonders, the forgotten, the shadows, the beauty and the truth about our world. We believe that the world is about more than trade negotiations, poverty and luxury vacationing, but full of people just like you and me that are celebrating, surfing or struggling through life – because in the end, we are all just passing through.”

Who does Caroline expect will use her site?

Journalists & Bloggers: Earthwalkers Magazine is a platform that bloggers, journalists and travelers can use to promote their writing, photography and video. Your user profile is your writing resume/history with Earthwalkers. Writers also have the opportunity to be published in the print edition of Earthwalkers, receive paid writing assignments, and join our Earthwalkers core reporting team on stories around the world.

Like-minded Travelers: So you’re an Earthwalker. You’re going to visit another country but you don’t know anyone there. You don’t want to do the typical toursist thing while you’re there. Get on Earthwalkers, search for other Earthwalkers around the world and connect with them to get insights, advice or even plan to meet up.

The Curious Learner: Just browsing? The stories on Earthwalkers are insightful, informative and inspiring. Regardless if you are traveling or not, it’s important to be informed about world issues.

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Christine Chen, Chen Communications

CEO, Chen Communications

Christine is founder of Chen Communications and frequently requested moderator of business and community events.

Christine is an 18-year veteran of broadcast journalism, launching shows on FOX and PBS in Seattle. She launched her marketing consulting group in January 2007 and has built an impressive list of clients in a relatively short time, including Microsoft. She was a speaker at the 2010 AAJA National Convention in Los Angeles.

“It’s more important than ever to tell an engaging story, define relevance and pick the right places to share that story,” according to her site.

Christine is in great demand as a moderator of community events. In October 2009, she moderated TechFlash LIVE: Women in Tech, an event that brought together a who’s who of women in technology.

And this past August, Christine moderated the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Network Event on the Eastside, an event that drew more than 300 people. The panelists included Kirk Nelson, Washington President of Qwest Communications; Bob Donegan, President of Ivar’s; and Anne Fennessy, Partner at Cocker Fennessy.

Christine says her marketing communications consulting firm specializes in connecting companies and communities for business through strategic thinking, messaging and outreach.

The firm offers these consulting services:

    * product and service key messaging/positioning
    * presentations and media training
    * content production for web, print and video
    * social media messaging/strategy/tactics
    * traditional PR strategy/pitching.

What differentiates her firm from other PR/MarCom consultants?

According to Chen, her firm “fuses traditional and new media approaches at a senior level, with an editorial eye and unique perspective on branding. Practical experience and tactical execution power a virtual team that is called on for projects, as needed, keeping overhead down and passing the savings on to the client. We are able to work with C-level executives as well as larger teams, as an outsourced service provider or as integrative team members.”

She’s also the creator of the blog xboxbride, which catalogs what happens when a non-video gamer weds an avid video gamer.

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I’d like to have AAJA Seattle host a workshop in the not-too-distant future on entrepreneurship.

We led the way in January 2009 by holding the Choppy Waters workshop at the University of Washington in association with its Communication department.

And several of you have joined startups in our area, like Patch.com. We want to hear about your experiences too. Send your story to us.

If you would like to become more involved in new experiments in journalism, you can!

AAJA Seattle participates in Journalism That Matters, which meets once a month to discuss current startup ideas in the region and to support their leaders. If you’d like to participate in JTM, please email me at sbhatt[at]seattletimes.com.

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Mobile apps: A source of real revenue for news orgs?

Posted on by sbhatt

On Thursday night, I attended a panel discussion on mobile advertising put on by TiE-Seattle, a not-for-profit group dedicated to fostering and supporting entrepreneurship. TiE-Seattle is part of a global network born in the early 1990s when Silicon Valley entrepreneurs of South Asian heritage decided to hold regular meetups.

The panel discussion certainly had some noteworthy speakers, but more on that later.

First, the WHY.

As in, why might mobile advertising be an important subject for journalists, especially those in print media, to think about?

Even if more people than ever are consuming what journalists create, the revenue that pays for the people, the equipment and the overhead is shrinking. (It’s no surprise publishers like the New York Times are planning to erect paywalls for their content starting next year.)

I thought newspapers might be stabilizing in 2010 after two terrible years, but the former media executive and bearish pundit Alan Mutter recently raised alarms again that the newspaper industry is still in trouble, having missed out on the recovery in advertising spending in the first quarter of 2010. His chart says it all: “Newspaper and magazine [ad] sales in the first quarter dropped respectively 9.7% and 3.9% at the same time television expenditures advanced 10.5%, Internet rose 7.5% and radio gained 6.0%.”

Auto and retail advertising historically have been important sources of newspaper ad revenue, so it’s disturbing to hear that even as auto and retail sales rose in the first quarter, spending on newspaper advertising for these verticals plunged. Clearly, some big car advertisers (i.e. Ford, Mercedes) are testing other ways to deliver ad impressions to potential customers.

Motor Trend magazine earlier this year launched an iPhone app with Mercedes-Benz sponsorship. According to an article in eMarketer, the iPhone app was part of an integrated marketing campaign in which Mercedes wanted to convey the message that the E-Class represents the next generation of Mercedes-Benz design and technology.

Advertisers like Mercedes-Benz are eager to deliver their messages to the booming number of mobile customers. Get the stats here.

Publishers are branding themselves too with apps. The alternate weeklies in Seattle, The Stranger and Seattle Weekly, have happy hour apps.

The question is can newspapers, most of which have weak engineering capacity and change-resistant cultures, come up with apps compelling enough to make the upfront development costs payoff? The Miami Herald’s iPhone app for baseball fans has been a hit. My own employer, The Seattle Times, has an iPhone app.

The challenge for media organizations is not simply migrating their content to mobile devices (just as they migrated it to the web), but leveraging the unique strengths of mobile for content AND advertising.

Mobile devices offer multiple “sensors” — such as location (GPS), touch, balance (accelerometer), visual (camera) and aural (mic). Unlike PCs, mobile offers advertisers a unique end-user; most of us don’t lend out our cell phones. All of these factors create interest for advertisers, who want to deliver a message to a specific audience that is going to stand out and be memorable in today’s information glut.

That brings us back to the TiE-Seattle event on Thursday night.

TiE-Seattle’s panel was composed of marketing and business types:

(Interestingly, the panel moderator, Kevin Keating, was a former journalist for the Spokane Spokesman-Review and is now founding partner of Lucid Communications, a strategic marketing firm based in Seattle. Keating opened the discussion by noting that research firm Garnter forecasts mobile advertising will reach $1.6 billion this year.)

Google and Apple are staking claims to mobile advertising by controlling the platforms that serve up mobile ads.

“It’ll lend a lot of credibility to the space,” Jordan said.

Similarly, Ribera views 2010 as the first year that mobile is seriously considered part of the marketing mix. Two-thirds of the campaigns his group is doing now, he said, are “integrated media buys,” with ads deployed on three marketing channels — mobile, web and keyword search.

Publishers, take note: The CPMs for mobile ads are higher than banner ads on websites, Ribera tells me.

But Bryan is skeptical of claims that mobile will eat the lunch of television, the dominant media for brand awareness advertising. (Think Super Bowl.) “Advertising is not an infinitely large bucket of money,” he said.

There’s consensus that mobile is gaining advertiser interest by delivering targeted messages through text messages (SMS), keyword search, and interactive apps.

But marketers are learning that user behavior is not the same on the mobile screen as it is on a PC. Mobile users have more urgent demands for information when it comes to search.

For example, Ribera noted, most mobile users of the Bing search engine complete their task within an hour or a day, whereas most PC users take up to a week. Mobile search keywords tend to be more conversational and abbreviated than PC search keywords.

(I love the fact that audience members added their knowledge to the discussion: C.N. Chiu, a consultant for MobileWebGo in Portland, Ore., said Spanish-speaking users are six times more likely than native English speakers to use mobile search.)

What does all this mean for news organizations and journalists? Based on what I learned from these speakers, here’s a few thoughts.

1. News organizations should charge for their apps, but they should be sure the apps do more than simply copy what is delivered on the PC screen. Get creative and offer something that’s entertaining, educational or utilitarian. Give the user a satisfying experience. This is not unrealistic as mobile payment use is growing. (If it’s a sponsored app, then obviously the news organization wants to make it a free download to maximize its distribution.)

2. Text messaging still has the greatest reach on mobile devices, but location-based services are the hot new thing. (Uh, Foursquare, anyone?) Could news organizations license to location-based services their news stories about a location, so urban explorers can not only find deals on shoes but also learn more about that neighborhood?

3. There’s great demand for quality video on mobile devices but a whole host of technical issues need to be worked out. But once those issues are worked out (and it won’t be long), inventory will sell out quickly. The new iPhone takes 720p high-def video and the $5 iMovie app turns the device into a video editor. Start to build mobile video into your multimedia workflow so you’ll be in a position to sell ads with them. Think Webiscenes, not Webisodes.

4. Because mobile users’ information needs are typically more urgent, certain kinds of content will be a better fit for the mobile device: Movie and restaurant reviews, breaking news alerts and sports stats. But news apps, because they must be downloaded by the user, involve intention and thus can also be designed to appeal to a niche editorial interest — and carry higher advertising rates.

Please add your comments! And contact us at aajaseattle@gmail.com if you have ideas for speakers for our next Innovation Salon, which will focus on monetizing digital news content.

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Journalism That Matters goes to Detroit, June 3-6

Posted on by sbhatt

AAJA Seattle was a proud co-sponsor of the Journalism That Matters event at the University of Washington in January. Check out a video put together by a documentary filmmaker who was at the event.

The video features interviews with three AAJA Seattle members (Sanjay Bhatt, Mike Fancher and Ranny Kang) and you might spot other chapter members who were there, including Athima Chansanchai, Joaquin Uy, Alex Stonehill, Sam Louie, David Boardman, Caroline Li, Ava Van, Naomi Ishisaka and Carina del Rosario.

Journalism That Matters will be holding a similar forum in Detroit with a special focus on diversity and communities of color.

Here’s the invitation from the JTM site:

Participate in “Journalism That Matters Detroit — Create or Die: Forging communities that initiate, incubate and innovate.”

This focused, three-day gathering of results-driven, action-oriented participants will discover, assess, shape and create forward-looking enterprises focused on key elements of community — diversity, shared values, tolerance, participation and developing youth.

JTM especially invites persons of color — journalists, entrepreneurs, programmers, technologists, bloggers, videographers, venture capitalists, artists, funders, educators and all who have an interest — to explore how voices often unheard or misrepresented can reshape the future of journalism.

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AAJA Seattle in 2009

Chapter President’s Report

Dear members,

This has been a year of great accomplishments for our Seattle chapter in the face of the worst recession in our lifetime. It’s because of you that we continue to take a stand for diversity in journalism, nurture students and support media entrepreneurship.

As we all know, 2009 was the year of convulsions for our industry as advertisers retrenched and everyone was affected either directly or indirectly by newsroom layoffs. Hearst Corp.’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the city’s oldest newspaper, published its last print edition on March 17 and laid off most of its staffers. Despite layoffs in 2008, The Seattle Times itself was on the brink of bankruptcy, and the staff agreed to painful concessions. Local television stations imposed wage freezes and eliminated jobs as well. Freelancers had a tougher time getting paid their usual rates and finding outlets for their work.

Yes, there were challenges and setbacks, but they didn’t extinguish our spirit.

Here are some of the highlights of 2009:

  • In February, AAJA Seattle held one of its most successful Lunar New Year fundraisers ever. Karen Johnson, managing editor of Seattlemag.com, coordinated a team of volunteers who pulled off the classy event, which was emceed by Q13’s Lara Yamada. Our National Board representatives generously covered our biggest costs: Athima Chansanchai donated the cost of renting the Wing Luke Museum’s gorgeous space, while Chris Nishiwaki donated the cost of wine.
  • Our “Choppy Waters” conference in January at the University of Washington’s Haggett Hall and “Reboot Your Career” workshop in March at Microsoft were a hit with attendees. A big shout-out to the UW’s Department of Communications for making Choppy Waters possible and to freelance writer James Tabafunda for working with me on organizing the entrepreneurship-focused program. Doug Kim, managing editor for Microsoft Office Online, took the initiative to offer a resume workshop for members hunting for jobs.
  • For the first time, AAJA Seattle partnered with the Seattle Association of Black Journalists (SABJ) to develop a video to inspire the next generation of journalists of color. Amy Phan, an editor for NorthWest Cable News, and Jessica Boyd, a former Northwest Journalists of Color recipient, produced the video. Lisa Youngblood-Hall, SABJ’s president, supervised the young producers.
  • We screened the video in June at the Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship reception at KING TV. The NJC scholarship program, run this year by Caroline Li, who publishes earthwalkersmag.com, awarded grants to Peter Sessum, Martha Flores Perez, Kassiopia Rodgers and Ilona Idlis.
  • At the AAJA National Convention in Boston, our Seattle chapter had a stellar turnout with 16 attendees, including Whitworth University student Yong Kyle Kim, this year’s recipient of the Founders scholarship. President Sharon Chan delivered an inspiring speech, and Marian Liu led the Voices Student Project with aplomb.
  • In another first, the Seattle chapter went to Vancouver, B.C., in September to support journalists of color there and establish ties with major media. Jennifer Chen, associate producer for CBC’s Early Edition, and Alden Habacon, manager of diversity initiatives for CBC Television, worked hard to put together a packed two-day itinerary that included newsroom tours, a panel discussion at the University of British Columbia’s Graduate Journalism School and a Lunar New Year-style dinner that brought out 60 local journalists.
  • And in November, AAJA launched the Asian American Small Market Broadcast Journalists group. Chapter member Shawn Chitnis, a reporter for KNDO TV in Yakima, is co-coordinator of the group.

These and other members of our Seattle chapter are the reason why AAJA Seattle is one of the best chapters in the country. Our members are also lucky to have an extremely dedicated board, and I want to thank this year’s officers for their service. If you’re interested in serving on our board in the future, please drop me a note.

We have reorganized and expanded our board, dropping the co-presidency and establishing two new positions – vice president for events and vice president for member programs. Many thanks to Venice Buhain, board secretary, for managing the restructure and chapter elections. Here are the chapter’s officers in 2010:

  • President: Sanjay Bhatt, reporter, The Seattle Times
  • Vice president for member programs: vacant
  • Vice president for events: Caroline Li, founder, Earthwalkers Magazine
  • Treasurer: Nicole Tsong, reporter, The Seattle Times
  • Secretary: Venice Buhain, reporter, The Olympian
  • National Advisory Board representative: Athima Chansanchai, founder/president, Tima Media

The board held a retreat recently at the home of Lori Matsukawa and Larry Blackstock and developed a roadmap for the chapter in 2010 and beyond.

As we look ahead, we will inspire the next generation of journalists, promote diversity and support media entrepreneurship. We will focus our resources on outreach, training and mentoring. We will strengthen the relationships we’ve built and develop new ones.

Next year we plan to launch a training series, hold social events with other professional groups, and sponsor pizza nights with journalism students at colleges and universities. We plan to send one, maybe even two, students to the AAJA National Convention, Aug. 4-7, in Los Angeles (and hope to see you there).

Have an idea for a chapter event? Come to a chapter business meeting! We plan to hold them every other month on the second Saturday. Subscribe to updates at www.aajaseattle.org.

There are many ways you can support AAJA: Become a member. Attend an event. Volunteer your time or expertise. Make a tax-deductible donation. This is your community.

Thank you and happy holidays!
Sincerely,

Sanjay Bhatt
President, AAJA Seattle
aajaseattle.org
sbhatt@seattletimes.com

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RSVP now for Jan. 31 Career Counseling Workshop!

On Saturday, Jan. 31, from 8:30 am to 3 pm, AAJA Seattle will hold a Career Development Workshop at the University of Washington. This workshop will feature news entrepreneurs and new media journalists describing what they do and their tips for thriving in the future.

This event is FREE to all journalists, although AAJA members will get priority. You MUST RSVP to this event due to limited seating. To RSVP, go to AAJA Seattle’s Facebook page or if you aren’t on Facebook, email
me at sbhatt@seattletimes.com.

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