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The Philadelphia Media Network--the serious broadsheet Inquirer, scrappy tabloid Daily News and digital hub Philly. com--has been the poster child for newspaper ownership turmoil over the past decade. A half-dozen separate owners have shepherded a half-dozen separate strategies, all while the business for major metro papers, including those in Philadelphia, was facing dramatic digital disruption and revenue declines. Enter Gerry Lenfest, a local cable network owner- turned-major philanthropist, who found himself as the sole owner looking for a better path forward. In January, the 85-year-old Lenfest announced a complex nonprofit/for-profit hybrid structure he believes will give PMN a fighting chance, both at survival after he's gone and at helping to solve the news industry's shared challenges. Lenfest donated PMN to a newly created Institute for Journalism in New Media, which is housed under the Philadelphia Foundation, and gave $20 million as seed money to help get the institute off the ground. The goal is to grow the endowment (to the tune of $100 million) to fund a potentially wide array of initiatives, including research and development of digital delivery models and specific public-interest journalism projects at PMN and beyond. The institute and PMN are managed by separate boards with separate missions and marching orders. While PMN is complex and still in an early stage, potential lessons can be learned about its component parts that could be applicable for other newspaper owners, publishers and funders.
This report is based on a research study conducted with Nielsen and commissioned by Knight Foundation to explore how people use mobile platforms for news.
Journalism underwent a flurry of virtual reality content creation, production and distribution starting in the final months of 2015. The New York Times distributed more than 1 million cardboard virtual reality viewers and released an app showing a spherical video short about displaced refugees. The Los Angeles Times landed people next to a crater on Mars. USA TODAY took visitors on a ride-along in the "Back to the Future" car on the Universal Studios lot and on a spin through Old Havana in a bright pink '57 Ford. ABC News went to North Korea for a spherical view of a military parade and to Syria to see artifacts threatened by war. The Emblematic Group, a company that creates virtual reality content, followed a woman navigating a gauntlet of anti- abortion demonstrators at a family planning clinic and allowed people to witness a murder-suicide stemming from domestic violence.In short, the period from October 2015 through February 2016 was one of significant experimentation with virtual reality (VR) storytelling. These efforts are part of an initial foray into determining whether VR is a feasible way to present news. The year 2016 is shaping up as a period of further testing and careful monitoring of potential growth in the use of virtual reality among consumers.
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