Journalism That Matters is now entrepreneurial

We’re closing up the Journalism That Matters session at Poynter this morning. A final exercise had us put fingers to keyboard and explain our place in the “new news ecology.” Here’s my 10-minute take:

The new news ecology is authentic, collaborative and transparent. Technology enables it, but should almost be taken for granted. Anything is possible, so the tool or the platform doesn’t matter. The question, the challenge, is what do you want to do? Engage, inform, collaborate and navigate: These are what guide my decisions today, whether I’m improving Newsgarden, brainstorming new products for Serra Media, or speaking, writing and training on the topic of journalism innovation.

Sustainability and marketability also factor into the equation. But the question is not about new business models, it’s about how to cultivate an audience and connect that audience with the right information. If you can do that, the business will take care of itself as many independent journalism start-ups are proving today.

Many people, including Lisa Williams yesterday, have suggested that journalism will survive its institutions. That should be the focus for journalists today. How do you bring to bear your skills, values and expertise on this new information ecosystem? It’s not a question of “how do you save your newspaper?” That can’t be solved by a focus group or panel discussion, not can it be solved by a beat reporter who’s still lucky to have a job. But a piece of it can be solved if that reporter or his or her editor focus on a form of journalism that is entrepreneurial. It will lead to better information experience for a larger audience. And if it doesn’t help save the institution, at least it will position the journalist to continue the important work beyond the life of that institution.

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