It’s a new day

The future is now.

I start my new “career” in earnest today, having said my farewell to The News Tribune on Friday. It was the best job I’ve ever had, working with the best people I’ve ever worked with. So the decision to leave was not an easy one.

I am indebted to the people of The News Tribune for the opportunities that I have before me now. Their willingness to innovate and experiment has provided me with the experiences that I am now invited to share with others in the industry at conferences and workshops. They encouraged me to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the operation, which in turn led to an entrepreneurial spirit driving me into this new phase of my professional life.

Newsrooms will continue to innovate. But I feel that innovation on the business model should be more closely integrated to the content strategy than a traditional newspaper organization can allow. So I’m bold enough to think that I can help more from the outside than I can from the inside. In effect, I’m placing a personal bet that developing new ideas for news and information that are tied to the business model is the best way to move the needle for local publishers.

It’s risky, for sure. But risk is inherent in entrepreneurship and transforming the business of local news and information won’t happen without a healthy dose of it.

Shutterfly CEO Jeff Housenbold hit it on the head when he told a Stanford graduate class that entrepreneurship is a state of mind.

It’s about how do you create things that people haven’t envisioned before. Then, how do you aggregate resources, motivate people and execute against that vision. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go start your own business. I think that entrepreneurship can happen in the largest corporation. Entrepreneurship is about creating new products, creating new markets, creating new ideas, then creating new businesses and capturing some of the economic rinse of that vision and the hard work.

As of today, I am leading a startup company called Serra Media that will try to follow that advice, building interactive applications and digital platforms for local publishers. I like to think it’s a way for me to do what I’ve been doing these past nine years running online news sites – specifically the innovation and experimentation – but do it for many web sites instead of just one.

I will also be spending time with my Journalism 2.0 activities, including more speaking and consulting and also writing an updated version to my book. On Wednesday, for example, I’m traveling to Europe to speak at conferences in Portugal and Denmark. This allows me to stay connected to the people on the front lines of the evolution of news in the digital age. And it scratches an inner itch that I’ve always had for teaching and coaching.

It’s an exciting – if uncertain – time, both for me personally and for the news industry, journalism and local information businesses. I look forward to the new markets, the new products and the new businesses that will be created. It will be hard work. But I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else today.

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