History

During 2015, pursuant to its “call to action”, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute convened five task-group meetings in five U.S. locations involving more than 40 U.S. news industry participants, researchers, experts and observers to consider a call to action drawn from a research report “From Paper to Persona.”

The task groups addressed four aspects of member/partner development, authentication and identity management, content description-tagging-sharing and selling; and user data and exchange.

That 2015 report updated research in 2010-2011 by RJI fellow Bill Densmore. Densmore was asked then to write a “white paper” assessing the journalism landscape in light of two years of research by the Information Valet Project, and make one or more recommendations about how to sustain the values, principles and purposes of journalism.

The 54-page paper, From Print to Persona: Managing Privacy and Information Overload; Sustaining Journalism in the Attention Age,[1] was published Aug. 4, 2011. Key points of the paper:

  • Mass-market advertising won’t sustain traditional journalism
  • New revenue streams are needed
  • A promising opportunity is for news organizations to become stewards and curators of individual user’s ‘persona’ and information needs; earning subscription and transaction fees by doing so.
  • A network is needed to maximize the value to consumers and revenue to the news industry. The network needs to be trusted by competitors.
  • The best way to assure such a neutral network is for it to be created by a non-stock, public-benefit organization.

The report’s author called for the creation of a public-benefit entity (with a working title, “Information Trust Association.” It would help create and govern – but not own or operate – a shared-user network for trust, identity and information commerce layered atop and supporting the existing World Wide Web. (READ 2011 ANNOUNCEMENT) 

The network, or exchange, would:

  • Develop technical and information-service protocols and business rules
  • Allow end users to own, protect — and optionally benefit by sharing — their demographic and usage data, with the help of their competitively chosen information broker or agent (“information valet”) – such as their local newspaper.
  • Provide a platform for customizing and personalizing the end-user web experience – a “news social network.”
  • Update the role, effectiveness of, and compensation for online advertising and marketing services beyond the mass market, while putting greater control of user privacy in the hands of users.
  • Allow digital users to easily share, sell and buy content through multiple websites with one ID, password, account and bill.

 LAYING THE GROUNDWORK

 The Information Valet Project fellowship laid groundwork for the ITA concept through three events and ongoing conversations with dozens of thought leaders within the news and technology industries:

In December, 2009, Densmore provided testimony about the ITA idea at a Federal Trade Commission public symposium. The testimony posted on the IVP wiki pages, has been accessed more than 33,000 times since it was posted: http://www.newshare.com/wiki/index.php/Jta

[1] — Available from http://www.papertopersona.org

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