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Can strippers save the news media? We Media Miami 09 looks for answers.

Kevinmarkswemedia For two days, cutting-edge thinkers in the media industry gathered at We Media Miami at the University of Miami to network, brainstorm ideas to monetize social media -- and stay in business. 

Even strippers were brought up in one workshop, since strippers might have the answer on why people might pay for conversations. As Dan Suwyn told his group, "You have to look in unorthodox places to find unorthodox answers."

Considering the mass amount of layoffs we've been hearing about in the news industry, attendees were on a mission to put an end to apathy. In case you missed my story in today's Miami Herald about the We Media Miami Conference on Wednesday, I've copied it below. The photo here was taken by journalist Mathilde Piard who was tweeting for We Media. The photo was during a workshop I attended with her on how news companies can change as they struggle for survival, and groups brainstormed on creating different news delivery models.

Also covering the event was Herald reporter Glenn Garvin, who spoke with a CNN exec that warned TV news must embrace new media to survive. You can read Glenn's story here.

BY BRIDGET CAREY
bcarey@MiamiHerald.com

You could smell the desperation in the air at this year's We Media Miami conference.

Images of foreclosed homes and stock markets crashing flashed on presentation screens as an audience of more than 200 discussed concerns on saving media industries and engaging with new social media technologies in a nerve-racking economy.

Held at the University of Miami, this is the fifth year for We Media, which had workshops on creating, operating and sustaining businesses in a media-centric culture. It continues Thursday with start-ups pitching products and services.

"This is an age of a new kind of responsibility," said Dale Peskin, managing director and co-founder of iFocos, during his opening presentation. He called on attendees to put their hearts into finding solutions for companies in media, rather than just being a think tank of ideas. He and Brian Reich of iFocos presented an agenda for smart capitalism, to think of outcomes not income, connections not transitions, people not products, and creativity not productivity.

A BIG `IF'

"If you start a company with the intention of it being sold, stop now," Reich said. "You may sell to Google or another organization, but if you frame what you're doing in those terms . . . you will not succeed."

Susan H. Karol, executive director of the Suburban Newspapers of America Foundation, said its clear this year has a more urgent tone than past conferences. "I think sometimes social media is a little elusive," she said. But she hopes to pass on the social media strategies bounced around to the 2,400 smaller newspapers she works with, because they probably couldn't afford to attend.

In a workshop about saving journalism, groups split up to brainstorm about a media company that would revolve around the user, or around the conversation about an event. The idea was to get journalists to think more about listening to their audiences. But no clear-cut answers arose about how to make money.

`UNORTHODOX PLACES'

"We have to figure out how people will pay to have conversations," said Dan Suwyn, who managed the exercise. He was managing editor of the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News and is now owner of Rapid Change Group. "Maybe we should ask strippers -- you have to look in unorthodox places to find unorthodox answers."

But even if the answer isn't found at the end of the conference, the purpose is to get people thinking in different ways.

"It's not about identifying that a shift is here," Reich said. "It's about figuring out what needs to be done and doing it."

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