It's not exactly a competition, but there is intense interest if not raging debate in the academic community about how to get journalism financed. Discussions at a lot of the major journalism and communication schools – Columbia, USC's Annenberg, Northwestern's Medill, City University of New York's new J-school -- are centered on a model that's considered broken.
Not the editorial model. No one I've spoken to at the schools doubts the need for double sourcing, disclosure, transparency, identification of sources, the role of journalism in a democratic society — even where they might disagree on the nuances of how to accomplish all these aims in a disrupted age.
What is broken is the financial model. With Craigslist and others destroying the ad revenue of newspapers, with people migrating away from broadcast TV news, with margins thinning on cable TV, with the Web picking up steam but in no way matching the revenues of print, with all these dynamics in play people are debating how to pay for journalism, which can be very costly to produce.
Last week, Jeff Jarvis of City University of New York said he'd received a MacArthur Foundation grant to explore citizen journalism, or what he calls "networked journalism." Columbia University, Annenberg, Medill, Berkeley and to a lesser extent Harvard are participating in the foundation-funded News 21 initiative. Jay Rosen at NYU is exploring his own networked journalism through NewAssignment.net, with support from Wired.com, as well as grant money (I've participated). Meanwhile, multiple solo journalists are doing sites, putting up their own material, getting funding, trying ads and products.
NewAssignment.net's David Cohn, who has been a student at Columbia's J-School is now going to work for Jarvis' project, too.
All these initiatives indicate the start of a wave in a direction that often happens in business, where the flow goes from academic experimentation to research then to business.