discussed at prominent journalism school

The Representative Journalism Project founded in Northfield, Minn. could see more nationwide support after project collaborators Bonnie Obremski and Bill Densmore facilitated a discussion about the initiative last week at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. The noontime “Lunchstorm” session was a part of a three-day conference centered around another experimental project called Information Valet, which Densmore is working on at the university.

The video below is an edited version of the hour-long talk during which media professionals from around the nation and students from the university’s top-ranked journalism school grilled Obremski and Densmore about RepJ’s progress and future plans.

One of the only unanswered questions was how the RepJ project would gain financial support from community members who are willing to invest in the next generation of community journalism. However, the founders of the Banyan Project and made some interesting suggestions.

Tom Stites of the Banyan Project suggested a co-op style funding method, or to simply “put out the tip jar” to see what would happen. Kachingle, founder Cynthia Typaldos explained, would be a way for Web site owners everywhere to easily solicit funds from fans. In essence, “Kachinglers” sign up to donate $5 per month toward the sites they would like to support most. To distribute some of the $5 to a site, the Kachingler pushes the Kachingle button installed on the site. Typaldos would like to launch Kachingle in January.

In the video, the questions asked appear in type at the bottom of the screen while Obremski and Densmore answer them.

Mizzou “Lunchstorm” discussion on Dec. 5, 2008 from Bonnie Obremski on Vimeo.


  1. Very interesting. My father Jake Hv. was head of journalism at Iowa State and would be fascinated with this. One participant spoke of the “crumbling of the journalistic infrastructure.” My daughter, a law student at the U. of Minn., rarely reads newspapers, getting almost all her news online (fortunately many newspapers are online now, but I personally do not enjoy sitting at a computer to read a whole newspaper’s worth of stories). I am my father’s daughter, and some of my earliest memories are sitting on his lap while he read the paper. I hope it is not true that newspapers will be only be published online sometime in the future.
    After all, even RepJ Bonnie likes to see her byline in the Northfield Entertainment Guide where we both write columns now. There is still something special about print media.

    December 10, 2008
  2. Thanks for your input Susan. I am fond of print, too. Still, I can’t help but think that the future of nearly every industry involves a strong Internet presence. So, I’m in favor of making that Internet model the best it can be… and hopefully with help from the people of Northfield!

    December 10, 2008
  3. Abe Abreu, Sr. said:

    Bonnie, I enjoyed meeting you at the Mizzou program and it was cool hanging out in Iowa on the way back. I’m excited about the future of community-driven content and look forward to helping you develop this program further.

    December 10, 2008
  4. Bonnie, you seem to be doing very well, and I congratulate you on that. It seems Northfield is in the vanguard of something very cutting edge here, exploratory and fascinating, as I said. If indeed the Internet is so important for the future, I wonder how far along Northfield is as far as industries and businesses in town having an Internet presence. Griff probably knows. Is Northfield ahead of the curve here?
    When I came to Northfield in 2004, I was drafted into doing a website for Froggy Bottoms, which we called a FrogBlog. And now the pub has a much expanded website to cover the pub, Froggy suites, etc., with the FrogBlog just a part of it. My brother’s law office and his Peterson Art Furniture in Faribault also have websites. But I do not know how many other businesses feel it is a necessity today. Are older businesses less likely to try websites or feel a need for them?
    Just wondering. Keep up the good work.

    December 10, 2008
  5. Bonnie, I read (in a newspaper) that the Detroit papers are going to publish only three days a week and encourage online reading. Jay Leno commented on that, saying it was because they did not want to read the sports page about the Detroit Lions losing all the time.
    So the future is now. No more clippings to save? Poor newspapers. So how soon do you think before newspapers will disappear entirely?

    December 18, 2008

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