Somewhere along the way the mission got muddled, but we need journalists now more than ever. http://bit.ly/2hW3rI5
Somewhere along the way the mission got muddled, but we need journalists now more than ever. http://bit.ly/2hW3rI5
Spain's new tax on linking to Spanish newspaper articles is ill defined and short sighted and ends up protecting a dying industry, while undermining a vibrant one. In fact, it makes no sense at all. http://bit.ly/1xXpBrs
Photo Credit: CanStockPhoto
I've been thinkng about a big change for a long time now. I write about disruption and innovation and as I looked at ways to disrupt my professional life I saw just how difficult it really is to do. It takes a bit of courage and a leap of faith and with two kids going to college in the Fall, it also takes a dose of common sense.
I thought about several ways I could change my professional life. I considered becoming an analyst or running the content marketing arm for a company, but as I thought about these ideas, I realized at my core, I love being a journalist and the change I wanted for myself didn't necessarily involve changing careers.
Then last month, fate intervened. My friend and fellow technology journalist Rob Pegoraro suggested I go to South by Southwest. It was a conference I had long considered, but with Rob's push I finally did it. At one of the sessions, I got to see three female tech journalists I have long admired -Kara Swisher from re/Code, Alexia Tsotsis from TechCrunch and Jemima Kiss from the Guardian.
At the end of the session, as is my habit, I went up to chat with the speakers and I met Tsotsis in person for the first time. We had known each via Twitter, but had never met in person. As the conference went on, I came up wth a story idea, one that didn't necessarily fit with my batch of current client publications, so on a whim, I pitched it to Alexia. And that was it. I didn't hear back from her.
Then, by sheer coicidence as I was getting ready to fly home from Austin, I ran into her in the airport restaurant and we chatted about the story idea. We talked over a price and I walked away with the assignment, which I wrote on the plane on the way home and submitted the next day.
Little did I know that series of fortunate events would lead me to alter my professional life, but after writing one more article, Tsotsis suggested I write for her regularly. I met with her fellow editors Matthew Panzarino annd Leena Rao by phone, and we struck a deal on the phone for me to become their new Enterprise Writer.
And with that, quite quickly, I had disrupted my professional life
The new gig would require a significant time commitment, which meant altering my current lineup of clients in a fairly significant way:
It will not be easy saying good-bye to Fierce where I've built the content management publication, forged relationships and enjoyed my time immensely. Nor will it be easy changing my role at CITEworld, a publication I've watched grow from nothing, but TechCrunch was an opportunity that was just too good to let pass me by and I've decided to grab it with both hands and move to a bigger stage.
I'm thrilled to be joining TechCrunch and although I'll miss the gigs I'm giving up, I feel like this is the sign I've been waiting for, that move that I knew I wanted to make, but I just didn't know how.
Here I go. Wish me luck.
Photo Credit: CanStockPhoto
I've been meaning to play more with Storify, which lets you pull in various social and web elements into a conventional news story. I had an exchange last week on Twitter with several people including FCC CIO David Bray and I thought the conversation would be worth preserving. Here's my first real Storify story based on that:
Even if you're not a publication, you could still learn something from the New York Times as it makes a slow and steady transition from print to digital. It faces a classic Innovator's Dilemma: How does it preserve and protect its existing core customers while making the move to an inevitable digital future and customers who very likely won't care about the legacy products. CEO Mark Thompson gave some insight last week at the Guardian Activate event. http://bit.ly/18jJH8R
Photo Credit: adKinn on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.
If you're not familiar with the case of journalist Barrett Brown, you should be. He posted a link to a cache of hacked documents. He hadn't hacked the documents and he wasn't charged with hacking. The government chose to prosecute Brown because among those many documents on the page where he linked were a couple of unencrypted credit card numbers. That was all the FBI needed to charge him with, of all things, credit card fraud. It's a chilling case for journalists and it's meant to send a message. http://bit.ly/13FNRmH
Photo Credit: Ron Miller
We live in a country that takes great pride in our freedom. Our constitution is held up as a shining beacon to the world, but we learned this week, that when you scratch beneath the surface, we really aren't that free at all. In fact, thanks to a former government employee named Edward Snowden, we now know that there is shocking level of surveillance of ordinary citizens.
Edward Snowden didn't just blow the lid off what one friend called the "surveillance state freaks," he came forward and revealed who he was at great danger to himself.
That's why I wanted to write this blog post today to let him know that at least one American stands with him, and I'll tell you how bad things have gotten. I was a little afraid to write and publish this post and that tells you that just knowing about this level of surveillance can have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Certainly, we know this much: Our government is collecting data about all of us at a level none of us probably ever imagined, and as computers become more powerful and hard drive space grows ever cheaper, and the software more sophisticated, the amount of information the government can collect, store and process about us in our electronic data-driven world is dizzying.
Some may argue, as Google's Eric Schmidt once did in 2009, that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about, but I would argue that if we have a right against unreaonsable search and siezure, however you define that in the electronic age, then we absolutely must question this level of surveillance of ordinary citizens.
We undoubtedly will soon begin to see a full frontal attack against Snowden. I wouldn't be surprised if it has begun already. As with Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, people will question his motives. Dirt will be dug up whether true or not. They will try to undermine his credibility any way possible.
But if you truly believe in freedom and justice and the power of the US constitution, you have to applaud what this man did and stand with him because he is a true American hero. He stood up for all of us at great personal peril and we need to stand with him now.
I plan to write my congressman and senators this week and urge them to do everything in their power to dig deeply into these allegations and to put limits on this type of surveillance right now, before it's too late. I hope you'll do the same.
Regardless of whether you're Republican or Democrat, or you stand on the right or the left, let's use the power of Democracy and stand together this time, and exercise our right to free speech and let our government know this is not acceptable.
The New York Times ran a piece on Sunday on online publications use of sponsored content. There was some underlying suggestion in the piece that sponsored content equals bought content, and I'm here to tell you that's not the case.
I had a debate on Twitter with Mike Rose from TUAW and Tim Stevens from Engadget, who both took a rigid view of sponsored content, suggesting that sponsors were dictating content. It may be at some publications that's happening, but in my experience of dealing with sponsored content, it's not.
In fact, I always stay clear of the business side of the arrangement and if I have direct dealings with the sponsor, I always direct any business questions back to the business side.
Consider these three sponsored content examples:
* In my work for Fierce Markets, we generate sponsored eBooks and sponsored webinars. We come up with the editorial concepts for these items and the advertising department tries to find a sponsor. I host the webinar and write the eBook and the companies don't get approval of the content --and in the instances where they have tried to take some control, I can tell you that my publisher has defended the editorial side of the business.
* I also host sponsored Twitter chats with IDG Enterprise. I have never been told what to say and I'm kept out of the loop on the business arrangement.
* I recently started writing sponsored content for my socmedia news site. Again, nobody tells me what to write and I can write pretty much whatever I want to write. I run my posts by someone at the agency that's running the program, but have yet to have anything but an enthusiatic response.
In all these cases, someone is paying to have their name associated with the content, but they are not paying to dicate the content anymore than advertisers can dictate content simply because they are helping pay for the publication.
Advertisers and sponsors will try to assert themselves from time to time, but if the business side makes it clear that the editorial side is independepent, then no issues occur.
It's also about transparency. Every journalist and publication has its own sense of how this should work, and it depends a great deal on the nature of your content, but getting sponsors for content is another way of making money online and it's tough enough to do that without putting up restrictions based on some sense of editorial purity that isn't really part of the equation unless you choose to have no advertisers.
The easiest thing to do here is to take a black and white view of it, but if it's done correctly, there is nothing wrong with sponsored content, and it gives another possible revenue stream to keep publishing --and that's the idea.
Photo Credit: Orin Zebest on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 Share Alike/Attribution license.
This morning, I read Om Malik's nostalgic look back at his 11 years as a blogger and it got me thinking about how I got into blogging -- and how much computing as changed over the last decade or so.
I started this blog in June, 2003 when Web 2.0 tools were still in their infancy. As I wrote in the inaugural post in this blog, I had just spent a few days at the first business blogging conference in Boston. I'm not sure they ever had another, but I'm glad I attended because it had a profound influence on my professional life.
It was at that conference that I learned about blogging, the simple notion that anyone could publish whatever they wanted whenever they wanted without having to beg at the door of the owner of the printing press. Writers were no longer beholden to the publishers because everyone could be a publisher.
Those were heady times and I took to blogging and I haven't stopped since. I now make my living by publishing on commercial blogs. I still have a couple of my own though -- this one and socmedianews.com because I still believe strongly in the power of self-publishing.
I met some of the earliest blogger-publishers at that conference including Rafat Ali, Dave Winer, Doc Searles and Biz Stone, who long before Twitter, started the blogging platform Blogger. Stone would sell Blogger to Google and later help start Twitter. Ali would build PaidContent.org into a go-to destination and later sell his little project to The Guardian for $30 million (which would later sell to Malik's GigaOm publishing company). Winer and Searles remain key voices in technology to this day.
Who knew that little conference in a Boston hotel conference room would be such a stepping stone for so many.
And over time people like Ali and Malik and yes even Michael Arrington, who started TechCrunch, transformed it from a nice concept into a mainstream publishing entity, and in the process transformed publishing forever. I was talking to my CITEworld editor, Matt Rosoff recently and he pointed out quite rightly that today people don't care if it's a blog post or an article. It's simply something you read online. Most people don't make the distinction anymore.
We have reached a point where the lines have blurred and publishing is publishing. What blogging has done more than create a publishing revolution, it has changed the way we write. It's OK to insert yourself in a post a now. It's OK to have an opinion and talk about what you do and how you do it. You don't have to pretend to be objective and reporting doesn't have to be a black box.
All that has happened because of the changes blogging brought.
And think for a minute what the computing world was like in 2003. It was for the most part static web sites. Business people carried Blackberries and regular people carried cell phones that made phone calls and nothing more. There was no notion of mobile computing. We were still years away from the social networking revolution.
It was all new.
I'm still excited by the idea of the democratization of media. Today, anyone with a mobile phone and a Twitter account is essentially a reporter on the ground reporting breaking news at it happens. Everyone has a camera and a video camera. Increasingly, stories break on social media.
But we still need trained journalists to pull it together, to make it more than a series of unfounded rumors without context. Journalists are still trained to ask questions and to give context and meaning to the news we are reporting (at least at our best).
I'm 9 years into this new self-publishing idea. Malik and Searles and Ali and Winer; the pioneers who made it all happen have been at it long before most of us even heard the term blogging.
We seem to have come full circle though where many of these early online publications have been absorbed into the larger media machine. It's ironic that in spite of making it simpler to publish, the idea of big media persists.
Where we go from this point, as we enter the teens is anyone's guess, but if the last decade or so is any indication, I would say we are still in for a wild ride. It's still possible for anyone with a smart phone and a laptop to start a publication with nothing but their wits. And that remains as exciting now as it ever was.
Photo Credit | waferboard