Nieman Foundation at Harvard
What’s with the rise of “fact-based journalism”?
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Dec. 3, 2008, 9:15 a.m.

Lovely video; shame about the business model

I post this video from Richard Koci Hernandez for two reasons:

— It’s a remarkable piece of work, which Richard says was assembled in 48 hours. Richard’s a lot more talented than most, but it’s a sign of what can be done with off-the-shelf tools (Adobe After Effects and Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Motion) these days.

— It’s a reminder of the limits of online advertising revenue for news content.

The video sums up a semester-long project at Berkeley where 59 journalism students built web sites to cover local neighborhoods. All told, they wrote 840 articles. The sites generated 20,650 unique visitors, 58,687 page views, and more than 600 comments from readers. Not horrible numbers for a startup.

It also had advertising, via Google’s AdSense. The sum total earned?


That’s a hair under a nickel an article, or about 71 cents a journalist. I hope they all enjoyed the pack of gum they bought with their weeks of labor.

There are, of course, better ways to make money from a web site than AdSense. But the quest for an online ad model that will actually pay journalists a living wage continues.

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email ( or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     Dec. 3, 2008, 9:15 a.m.
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