Blog #2: Interviews Continue to Create Connections

Throughout this Summer, Dr. Kate Fink and I have been able to progress substantially towards discovering if the organization TAPInto is a viable solution to the lack of funding and popularity of local news. Dr. Fink and I continue to reach out to many different sources to maintain an educated understanding of the organization and its purpose, and also to ensure an unbiased voice throughout our research.

We have reached out to 15 different interviewees, all of whom are TAPInto franchise owners. So far, Dr. Fink has conducted seven of the 15 interviews, each being approximately 1 hour in length. I have transcribed the interviews with assistance from third-party software. Dr. Fink discussed numerous topics with the interviewees. These topics include the purpose of creating a franchise, the owners’ professional background, the nature of working with TAPInto, how employment works, what kind of content gets posted, and how they use revenue sources.

For most of our interviewees, they started working with TAPInto on the side and didn’t focus too much energy on it. Eventually, their platform began to grow, so they became committed. They were independently bringing local news, which interested many townsfolk, and finally gave TAPInto more popularity.

We also referenced written works, including articles written by students at the Columbia School of Journalism, a reference piece from the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, and Irving Seidman’s Guide for Reporters in Education and the Social Sciences.

These publications showed how communities are now developing and growing around how they access their news. As long as TAPInto remains convenient to readers, it has a chance to become even more popularized.
Connections between the interviews and the reference articles are seemingly obvious. However, Dr. Fink and I are continuously redefining these connections. So far, our research could conclude that TAPInto is indeed a successful business model.

At this point in our research, I still do have some questions that I would like to focus on that I feel we have not quite touched upon yet. I would like to know about the audience of these publications. How popular are they? Do they have a stable/loyal audience, or is it always changing? Are there signs of long term growth in viewership? Is there a way to popularize this platform even more?

Challenges lie simply in our time frame. We are still waiting on responses from interviewees, which is necessary to help connect the dots in our research. In some cases, it is difficult to transcribe the interviews simply because of distracting background noise. Dr. Fink and I are actively avoiding this issue from here on out.

However, the interviews that we have conducted thus far have given us great success. The amount of information that many of these owners have provided us with is immense, so we do have plenty of information to guide us further.

Overall, I would say that this project has helped me to understand that adaptation of news is constant. Whether that adaptation is TAPInto remains uncertain. However, there always will be at least a temporary solution that can encourage growth and deny the failure of local news and other smaller platforms. As someone who strives to be successful in the news and media industry, I could see this majorly impacting my career path. The possibility of change does not frighten me, but only excites me for the many opportunities. I know not to stray from these new and innovative styles of reporting and must remain open to what is at hand.

Blog 1: Seeking Sustainable Funding Models for News: The Case of TAPInto

This summer I am working with Professor Kate Fink to study and research the changing and developing state of the news industry during the modern age through our project titled “Seeking Sustainable Funding Models for News: The Case of TAPInto.” As readers are straying away from newspapers and turning towards social media for their updates on current local and international affairs, news media outlets must find an affordable way to stay in touch with their audience. A way that many outlets have chosen to overcome this challenge is through the use of “teaching hospital” -style journalism for young writers and through franchise models for funding. We will focus on the organization TAPInto, which is a network of local news sites based in New Jersey and New York.

Our purpose is to identify new and innovative methods of providing stability for news media outlets that may be struggling financially. As traditional advertising-dominated revenues are collapsing, many local, as well as college campus-based news outlets (St. Bonaventure University, specifically) are fighting for survival. Organizations, such as TAPInto, are available to adequately assist with changes in news funding, distribution and consumption. Through our research, our goal is to examine a new way of providing news and to consider and discover its’ outcomes and viability to replace other failing styles of reporting. We hope to provide research that can assist in driving news outlets further in their successes, and show that the growth and sustainability of news media is still possible.

We also hope to achieve recognition for our research at the next National College Media Association conference in March 2020, or the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference in August 2020. We also plan to submit a paper for publication to a peer-reviewed journal such as Journalism Studies or Journalism.