CCLP Hosts Convening With McClatchy and Maker City to Explore New Components of McClatchy Business Model

From cuts to the resources of large news organizations to fresh trends in digital and online content, the evolving media landscape has almost seen it all during the past two decades. More recently, editors and journalists have seen a new demand from communities for creative and community-based reporting. In order to examine how organizations can best respond to the new demand, CCLP helped to bring together a collaborative group of innovators, academics, media representatives, and consultants on December 13 and 14 at the USC Annenberg School. The convening was sponsored by McClatchy and Maker City, partners that teamed up to investigate how maker movement values might inform McClatchy in exploring new components of its business model and in experimenting with pioneering digital engagement strategies.

The meeting on December 14, as well as the dinner the night beforehand, was hosted by CCLP Board member and McClatchy President & CEO Craig Forman, CCLP Senior Fellow and founder of the Maker City project Peter Hirshberg, and CCLP Director Geoffrey Cowan. The hosts were joined by leaders of The Kansas City Star, including President and Publisher Tony Berg and Editorial Page Editor Colleen Nelson. The convening sought to use The Star as a case study of how McClatchy might spearhead revitalization and economic development in “purple America,” while improving the reach and success of each of McClatchy’s newsroom in 29 other markets across the country.

The convening opened with dinner at the USC University Club on the night of December 13, where guests voiced their diverse reasons for joining the conversation. Reasons ranged from a fascination with the role of entrepreneurship in future cities to a desire to explore how news organizations can interact with technology. At the heart of each reason was an interest in why civic engagement in this new era frequently occurs in ways that are disconnected from local information platforms.

On Thursday, maker movement representatives like Maker Media CEO Dale Dougherty and Indiana Makers founder Nan Braun sat side-by-side with individuals from philanthropy like Philip Gaskin from the Kauffman Foundation and journalism experts like Director of the Knight Center Dan Gillmor to discuss how the inventiveness and local acumen of makers could inspire new strategies at The Star.

The Sunnylands-style convening was separated into three sessions, which addressed the obstacles for The Star (such as branding and marketing), potential partners for McClatchy newsrooms (like universities or unions), and the ways in which The Star and McClatchy could contribute to the maker movement. Among the questions asked were:

  • How do McClatchy newsrooms foster greater community involvement while avoiding boosterism?
  • What range of audiences can be engaged in civic reinvention and economic development, and what are their needs?
  • How does McClatchy involve more community groups in Kansas City in the production of news without sacrificing credibility and transparency?

After a productive lunch that assessed the progress made in the first two sessions, the third session kicked off with a group brainstorming exercise that generated business ideas for The Star such as “maker tourism”, crowd-funding, and digital offerings to serve local manufacturers and makers. The day concluded with closing remarks from Craig and Geoff that noted the initial success of the convening and planned for the attendees to come together in the future for more pilot projects.

Photo credit: Omeed Manocheri