In a brief but illuminating email thread leading up to a small conference on Friday in LA, we’re looking at key questions about citizen media’s future. One, obviously, is sustainability, which we all agree is key. Another participant in the discussion asked:
WHY do we need to expect individual initiatives to be sustainable? Is there not merit in the launches of serial enterprises, sequentially launched, within communities, with new ones imparting new vigor, skills and maybe even new goals?
Or, conversely: Is there merit in traditional news organizations anteing up some support for CitJ ventures to build a community information architecture?
Sustainable does not necessarily mean profitable, or long-lasting. An individual effort is sustainable as long as the person wants it to be, and that’s entirely fine.
I’m interested in seeing that communities have sustainable journalism and information ecosystems, not necessarily in the survival and profitability of individual ones. But institutional knowledge and historical/factual context do matter — and if each new entrant makes all the same mistakes someone else did 10 years earlier, that’s not especially helpful.
I still believe, even now, that traditional media remain in the best position not just to seed these ventures — internally as well as externally — but to make them a linchpin in their own long-term viability.