Thursday, December 4, 2008

In praise of experimentation

NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof started Twittering in November.

Here’s what I love about it, as reflected in a tweet on Dec 3:

@sashak and @myoung Thanks for the welcome. I'm trying to avoid going extinct. Help teach me how to do this....--ndk

Kristof has no idea what he’s doing… and yet he’s trying it anyway. That’s the kind of mindset we need in the news business: Just try it and figure it out as you go.

Here’s the second thing I like about it: “Help teach me how to do this.”

Gone is the traditional journalistic “we know best” arrogance. (Not that I’m accusing Kristof of being arrogant. I've never met the guy, but he actually seems like one of the most down-to-earth journos out there.) In place of that distance-creating arrogance are:

a) The admission that he’s ignorant (or, put another way, a beginner),

b) A recognition that the folks out there can probably help us journos find our way to the future, and

c) A willingness to help them help us.

All of these are incredibly valuable mindsets for finding our way forward. Kristof's courageous dive into something he doesn't quite understand--but realizes might hold a key to the future--is a model to emulate.

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