Like Erin, I enjoyed attending the Journalism That Matters conference this week.  Although a panel discussion that concluded with a bleak prognosis for the current mainstream news media business model kicked off the event, the dreariness only surrounded the business model, not the craft of journalism.

However, many veteran journalists felt threatened by the conference's tone towards traditional journalism as it focused on "citizen journalism's" rise, but I hope that they felt much more upbeat towards the end.  In my view the craft is doing well, and the Internet is, as one veteran journo put it at the concluding session, helping fuel what he sees as a renaissance.

As Erin mentioned there were many people who have started hyperlocal and other niche sites, and they're having varied levels of success or failure.  There was a lot of discussion of an Internet based business model for news, and people seemed to like the fact that there were many potential models discussed at the conference.  They seem excited to see what ideas not only survive but thrive along with those that fail. 

The Internet has lowered the barrier of collecting and disseminating information, and I'm thrilled that so many people are brave enough to go out on a limb and try to make their ideas work.  In fact, people who lack journalistic credentials and training — the "citizen" journalists — are also entering the fray to cover topics that they're passionate about.  Thus, more ideas for business models.  

On another note, I can see why many people can see a high failure rate of on-line news ventures as threatening to the craft, but there is a silver lining.  The business model of news is changing, and that makes it even more important to find a new set of viable models.  The Internet provides a forum to shift through the plethora of ideas out there to see which ones are viable.  That's good for journalism.

Keep an eye on Journalism That Matters, its conferences are likely hosting the people who will develop the next viable business models for journalism.