Wednesday, January 12, 2011

News Frontier Database

Columbia Journalism Review has just launched a new initiative called The News Frontier Database which it boasts on its homepage as:

...a searchable, living, and ongoing documentation of digital news outlets across the country. Featuring originally reported profiles and extensive data sets on each outlet, the NFDB is a tool for those who study or pursue online journalism, a window into that world for the uninitiated, and, like any journalistic product, a means by which to shed light on an important topic. We plan to build the NFDB into the most comprehensive resource of its kind.

Right now the site is more potential than anything else, a promising shell that will build up quickly. So far, for instance, under Arts and Culture there are only five outlets listed; under Education there are none. Once populated however, one can envision the usefulness of being able to search online news outlets by location, affiliation, staff and volunteer sizes, subject categories and business models.

Criteria for news organization inclusion are stated as follows:(1) Digital news sites included in the NFDB should be primarily devoted to original reporting and content production. (2) With rare exceptions, the outlet should have at least one full-time employee. (3) The digital news site should be something other than the web arm of a legacy media entity. (There’s no doubt that some of the most important online journalism is being produced by the websites of newspapers and other legacy media, but this database is devoted to a new kind of publication.) (4) The digital news site should be making a serious effort to sustain its work financially, whether that be through advertising, grants, or other revenue sources. (The language and spirit of this last criterion borrow from the work of Michele McLellan.)

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