- Act like an entrepreneur; stop thinking first about why a new approach won't work.
I talked about the value of experimentation and not waiting until something is fully baked--even at the risk of failure--in this post about how to think like a designer and this post about two newspapers' different approaches to using Twitter.
- Create a portfolio of initiatives; recognize that some will fail and kill those quickly.
"If I were a newspaper publisher today" talks about the need to create just such a portfolio.
- Don't wait for every data point before taking action. "Ready, fire, aim" should be the operating principle.
In "How to think about the new WaPo political aggregation site," I noted how polished the new "Political Browser" site was and indicated that that was a red flag for me. A polished design could indicate that someone thinks they've figured it out when, really, we all need to be in "throw it up against the wall and see what sticks mode."
- Use downsizing as a tool when necessary to achieve a larger strategy, not simply as a cost-cutting goal.
I haven't really talked about this, but I totally agree. Downsizing without restrategizing just doesn't make any sense. If you're going to downsize, if you're going to leave yourself with fewer staff than you need to deliver a quality product, you need to rethink your product and come up with one that you can deliver with quality, given the amount of people you have.
- Figure out how to leverage core competencies into new directions and new niches.
In "The end of news *as we know it*", I talked about how the demise of newspapers doesn't mean the demise of news. News will continue, but in new forms. The mission of people in the news business today needs to be to find those forms.
- Be honest with employees, and get ideas from those on the front lines.
See my "How about Googling up?" post for ideas on how to leverage Google's "20% project" idea to get great ideas from the front lines.
- Don't sit and cower and weep about your problems. Inspire.
In "Who, exactly, is the problem?" I talked about the need to put the recriminations aside and dive in and try to find the future.
- Collaborate with outside entities that can bring expertise or resources.
Yup, agreed with that in "Getting ahead--and producing better journalism--by letting others help us." Also talked about how Dan Rather might have avoided getting fired, if he'd brought in the wisdom of the crowds before he put the Bush/National Guard memo story out into the world.
- Pay attention to, and leverage, the brand.
I haven't addressed this, but I agree that, in the future, brand will be an important competitive advantage.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Whoever said that has to be off their rocker, no?
Well, not exactly. David Cohn is an ambitious twenty-something journalist who's been hacking his way toward the future of news future. He's currently leading spot.us, a massive experiment in seeing if crowdfunding* can be used as a model to fund journalism. Previously, he teamed up with new media thought leader (& NYU J-School prof) Jay Rosen on New Assignment.Net, another project to explore potential new models for journalism. And before that, for those looking for traditional journalism cred, he wrote for Wired, SEED, and, yes, even the New York Times.
In a post on his DigiDave blog today, Cohn wrote that the reason he's feeling so bullish is because of the massive number of experiments going on, right now, to invent the future of news. (See his post for some examples.) "The answers are out there," he wrote, "in every startup (journalism focused or otherwise), community, blog, micro-blogging, micro-financing and CMS on the web."
How does that work, you ask? What does it mean that "the answers are out there in every startup?"
This is standard innovation practice. This is how Silicon Valley works. Thousands of players dive in, all with good ideas about how to make a particular industry work. They put their ideas in play, and, out there, in the market, and over time, the ones with legs emerge. But the ones that don't ultimately succeed also contribute. Because others learn from their experiments. They learn what works and what doesn't. They get new ideas for something new to try."What we need right now is 10,000 journalism startups," Cohn wrote. "Of these 9,000 will fail, 1,000 will find ways to sustain themselves for a brief period of time, 98 will find mediocre success and financial security and two will come out as new media equivalents to the New York Times."
I agree. This, simply, is how we are going to find the future. And we will find it. Through experimentation and trial & error. Eventually we will find the future. It will look nothing like what we know journalism to be (which is why those startups Cohn mentions can seem so baffling to traditional journalists). But we will get there.
* DEFN: "Crowdfunding": Getting the public to pay for your project.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
What's "future of news"-y about it:
-- It's fun. The news doesn't have to be serious. Yes, choosing cabinet secretaries is serious business. And most of the players appear to be making serious choices. (Daffy Duck has yet to make it into the rankings.) But anything a reader can play with is fun. And fun is good--for building brand loyalty and generating return visits.
-- It's putting control in readers' hands. It moves away from the old school "we tell, you listen" mindset and invites readers to participate.
What's "old school" about it:
-- It doesn't go far enough. Why aren't they taking a Fantasy Football approach to this? Why don't they let people create individual accounts, so they can "own" their teams? Why don't they let people debate the pro's and con's of each candidate? Just imagine the discussion it would generate. That's a huge missed opportunity to score return visits -- and multiple ad impressions.
Good on the New York Times for going beyond the text-only mindset. But come on guys. Let go completely. Put it in the readers' hands and let them go wild.
What's "future of news"-y about it:
-- It's breaking away from the newspaper-y "mental model" of news--everything thrown into the same package. Instead, the editors are thinking about their readers and what their readers want. Is there appetite for Obama news alone? Great, they clearly said, let's create a "product" that delivers just that.
-- The "President Elect's Calendar" feature (right). Sure, it might feel like it's not telling us much (yesterday just had four items: Obama goes to gym, Obama arrives at office, Obama goes to Vets Day memorial, Podesta briefs reporters), but that's OK. It's breaking out of the "everything as text" mindset of traditional journalism. And that's a good thing.
What's "old school" about it:
-- It's lifeless. There's no party going on there. Just a bunch of stuff the Politico staff has thrown up there. No interaction. Nothing dynamic. Nothing in a crowdsourcing direction.
-- When you click through to a story, you lose your location -- you're thrown back into Politico regular. Sure, that might be a good way to drive traffic to Politico. But it won't last. People come to destinations because they want to feel like they're somewhere. Something that's just a wrapping paper over the old stuff won't build loyalty.
Good on Politico for giving this a shot. But like all v1's, it's going to need a few more iterations, many probably, before it finds its groove.