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Single-Subject News Conference

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia Journalism School

Saturday, November 9, 2013 from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM (EST)

Single-Subject News Conference

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Single-Subject News Ended Free  

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Event Details

Over the course of the weekend of November 8-10th, Tow Center will host a series of panels and discussions amongst students, industry, and 20 Single-Subject News study participants. The goals of this conference are to illuminate the trend towards single-subject news sites as they fit into mainstream news media, highlighting best practices, funding potentials, and other core items in this field. 

The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University is exploring this trend in the digital world. Tow Center post-doc research scholars Lara Setrakian and Kristin Nolan, under the direction of Director Emily Bell and Research Director Taylor Owen, are conducting research on single-subject news websites and creating the Single-Subject News Conference in order to share best practices and provide support for these burgeoning websites. The research, which emphasizes the study of how single-subject websites have responded to the lack of in-depth coverage of international issues and crises is funded from The Tow Foundation and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The discussion and study will cover a variety of online archetypes to capture the single-subject trend is in its infancy. In summary, we hope to jumpstart dialogue, create a community of like-minded leaders, and build a roadmap for others wishing to grow their own single-subject websites. This event is meant to be for Columbia community members and industry to come together to analyze this niche portion of the journalism field.

Schedule of Panels for November 9th 

8:30am- 9:00am: Breakfast in the World Room

9:00am- 9:30am
Defining the Space
Lecture Hall

Tow Fellows Lara Setrakian and Kristin Nolan discuss findings in their research and set the parameters for the day’s discussion.

9:30am- 10:30am
PANEL: Success Stories and Lessons Learned
Lecture Hall; 30 min. panel/30 min. Q&A

Brian Kovalesky (Start Up Beat), Jim O’Shea (Chicago News Cooperative), David Sassoon (InsideClimate News), and Kelly Virella (The Urban Thinker) will speak on the successes and lessons learned in starting a single-subject news platform. Moderator: Taylor Owen (Tow Center Research Director)

10:45am-11:45am
PANEL: Business Models in the Making 
Lecture Hall; 30 min. panel/30 min. Q&A

Jake Batsell (Knight Fellow, The Texas Tribune),  Dan Fletcher (Beacon Reader), and Alexa O’Brien (United States v. Manning, United States v. WikiLeaks, carwinb.net), will speak on different methods of funding a single-subject platform in the context of declining advertising revenue and an environment of a shrinking newsroom. Moderator: Lara Setrakian (Tow Fellow/Syria Deeply)

11:45am-12:45pm: Lunch, Discussions, and Networking in the World Room

12:45pm-1:45pm
PANEL: Case Study: Politics in the US
Lecture Hall; 30 min. panel/30 min. Q&A

Elesha Barnette (Politic365), Tom Goldstein (SCOTUSblog), Cristian Salazar (Gotham Gazette), and Micah Sifry (TechPresident) will speak on the trend of politically oriented single-subject news platforms in the United States on the national level, for niche audiences, and on the city level. Moderator: Brooks Jackson (FactCheck.org)

1:45pm-2:45pm
PANEL: Mixing News Models & Mainstream Media
Lecture Hall; 30 min. panel/30 min. Q&A

Debbie Galant (New Jersey News Commons), Bill Grueskin (Dean of Academic Affairs, Columbia Journalism School) Debbie Galant (New Jersey News Commons), Robert Mackey (The New York Times), and Kelly Niknejad (Tehran Bureau), will speak on traditional media’s vantage point on the single-subject news platform and its evolution. Moderator: Lara Setrakian (Tow Fellow/Syria Deeply)

3:00pm-4:00pm
Covering the Beat (A Conversation with Jay Rosen)
Lecture Hall

Jay Rosen (Director, Studio 20: New Media and Digital Innovation, New York University Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute) and Lara Setrakian discuss Covering the Beat.

4:15pm-5:15pm
PANEL: Creating Community Around a Nice Topic
Lecture Hall; 30 min. panel/30 min. Q&A

Chris Altchek (PolicyMic), Erika Johanssen (Purpose), King Kaufman (Bleacher Report), and Craig Newman (Homicide Watch Chicago) will speak on their efforts to create community around a niche and focused topic, how to drive traffic through community building and increase interest around a niche topic. Moderator: Lara Setrakian (Tow Fellow/Syria Deeply)

5:15pm- 5:30pm
Concluding Remarks
Lecture Hall

Tow Fellows Lara Setrakian and Kristin Nolan will conclude the day with select remarks. 

Have questions about Single-Subject News Conference? Contact The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia Journalism School

When & Where


Columbia Journalism School
2950 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Saturday, November 9, 2013 from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM (EST)


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