Building Media Networks for Movements and Causes

Three trends have changed the news ecosystem, and opened doors for any movement to create a viable news media presence.


News discovery and consumption are moving to social media, and away from traditional websites

“The Stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web. Fewer users are directly checking dedicated webpages, instead getting fed by a never-ending flow of information that’s picked for them by complex –and secretive — algorithms. The Stream means you don’t need to open so many websites any more. You don’t need numerous tabs. You don’t even need a web browser. You open Twitter or Facebook on your smartphone and dive deep in”

An Iranian blogger who was jailed as a dissident in 2008 for six years explains the difference between news consumption in 2008 and 2015. has even dispensed with its website.


News consumers value content, and will “follow” finely curated news on social media

Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Upworthy, Vox and, among many others, have built a viral following by curating news that appeals to news consumer. And when news consumers are clicking on their links on Twitter and Facebook, they’re more focused on the content itself, not the final source of content. Their business models yield valuations that approach traditional news media like the New York Times because they aren’t saddled with the fixed costs of paying journalists for content creation.

Has ‘curate’ replaced ‘aggregate’ as the default term for summarizing other people’s news?

Sam Kirkland, Poynter

Aggregation used to be a dirty word to journalists that bordered on plagiarism. But the NYT now gets it, they’ve released NYT Now, their own news aggregator.


Everybody hates banner ads

Curated news media developed for movements and campaigns don’t need ads for sustenance.

Advertising plays the same role in your media diet that vegetables play in your regular diet. But, just like veggies, advertising plays an important role in sustaining a body; in this case, a diverse body of content.
Advertising is the great subsidizer of the press

Adam Thierer, Forbes contributor

This is the main publisher argument for advertising. It’s a news consumer compromise that really shouldn’t be tolerated.

Movements and Campaigns should be supported by a national media network

The best way to build social momentum for movements is to create curated “breaking news” feeds across 50–200 cities that informs its advocates about trends and news associated with their movement at both the national and local level.


Building Curated News Networks is a proven media model

Since 2009, BNN Networks has developed the methodology to build curated news networks. The first network, The Breaking News Network (“BNN”) curates and aggregates the most interesting and important media and blog news feeds in 400 cities, ticker taping in real time 24×7 to an aggregate 1,100,000 local followers on social media. It averages 20,000 posts on weekdays, garnering about 120,000 clickthroughs daily. It is now the largest online local news network today.


Local news networks brings advocacy to the town hall level

The Advocate Network is a marketing concept built around the idea that having individuals, groups and organizations genuinely support a candidate or movement using social media is far more persuasive and trustworthy than any other marketing method. Yes, advocates may support the movement, but how do we get them to really engage and take action? The philosophy underlying a new kind of media advocacy is based on reciprocity of social capital. When a media network gives advocates the social capital in the form of a media voice to their community, advocates will have greater incentive to support the movement and its campaigns.

Media amplification

Amplifying advocates, national and local, is simple. Advocates add a designated hashtags like #Campaignname to their tweets, just as they might normally do. The tweet is automatically retweeted across local city social media channels like Twitter and Facebook group page.

When @MakeRoomUSA tweets with the campaign hashtag #MakeRoom to expose the affordable housing crisis, the San Francisco feed (@BreakingSFNews) RTs the tweet to its San Francisco reader base

Preparing Advocates for Amplification

Advocates are assembled in a database for curated syndication and amplification.

  1. Journalists, bloggers and writers covering movement, both national and local.
  2. National organizations and local civic groups who share the values of the movement.
  3. Local politicians and community leaders.
  4. Advocates and field personnel attached to the movement.

BNN Networks has over 8,000 organizations authorized for amplification across its networks.

Media Networks based on Advocacy are Sustainable

The unique feature of the BNN Networks’ localized media networks is its ability to drive the message hyperlocally and granularly by local advocates, where word of mouth marketing can truly happen at the friends and family level.

According to recent research by BuzzFeed’s Jon Steinberg and StumbleUpon’s Jack Krawczyk:

Our data show that online sharing, even at viral scale, takes place through many small groups, not via the single status post or tweet of a few influencers. While influential people may be able to reach a wide audience, their impact is short-lived. Content goes viral when it spreads beyond a particular sphere of influence and spreads across the social web via ordinary people sharing with their friends.

Once the media network is established, the network of advocates can be tapped over and over again to serially support future campaigns.


News Feed as Marketing Platform

Simply put, a well read curated news network becomes a bona fide publication diligently followed by movement advocates. Being “top of mind” is the critical marketing precept. With Twitter and Square’s integration enabling donations directly from tweets, movements can use the news network for fundraising as well.

The Next Wave of News

Movements building their own network news feeds is virgin territory. Many have started by publishing blogs and press releases. The next step of curating relevant news for their customer base has always seemed out of reach because movements haven’t seen themselves as being in the news business. Yet, that is what social media enables.

We’re at the dawn of the proliferation of a brand new kind of news media. Excerpts from Marc Andreessen: The Future of the News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All in One Place.

I am more bullish about the future of the news industry over the next 20 years than almost anyone I know. You are going to see it grow 10X to 100X from where it is today.
The key to the old (media) businesses was control of distribution, way more than anyone ever wanted to admit… The end of monopolistic control doesn’t mean that great news businesses can’t get built in highly competitive markets. They just get built differently than before.
Distribution is going from locked down to completely open, anyone can create and distribute. There is no monetary premium for control of distribution. At the same time, the market size is dramatically expanding — many more people consume news now vs. 10 or 20 years ago. Many more still will consume news in the next 10 to 20 years. Volume is being driven up, and that is a big, big deal.
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