This article was originally published on Salon on June 2, 2010.
Media and technology coverage that looks beyond the gloom to ways we can create better, more trustworthy content
I’ve been a fan of Salon since the day it started, and a paying subscriber as long as the company has offered that option. If you visit this site often, you already know why.
So I’m delighted to be bringing some of my blogging here. In coming months I’ll be writing about topics I know well, such as media and technology — and especially the growing intersection of the two fields.
Thanks to the work of people in Silicon Valley and its offshoots around the world, media have become significantly more democratized in recent years. Democratization, in this sense, is about participation and access: Increasingly, we can all create media, and with digital networks we can find what people create.
The impact of this shift is in its early days. Traditional journalists, watching their monopoly and oligopoly business models crumble as a result of technology’s impact, see little but gloom. I worry about what we’ll miss in this devolution, at least in the short term, but I see little but opportunity.
I see opportunity partly because of the work I do at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. At the school’s Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, we’re aiming to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to journalism education — and to help students realize they can (because they may have to) invent their own jobs.
I see opportunity in the countless experiments in media and journalism under way around the world. In company cubicles, labs, garages, dorm rooms, labs and so many other places, people are inventing the future by testing ideas about content, conversation and ways to pay for it. We willget this right in the end.
To get it right, however, we will need to go beyond the experiments. We need to persuade people to use media, not just consume it, in ways that many folks are not doing today. We need to persuade content creators of the advantages of doing things in ways that will be trusted; and we need to persuade the consumers-turned-users of media to demand better quality and trustworthiness than we’ve settled for in the past. Those are my goals in a new book, Mediactive, that will appear later this summer. I’ll be talking a great deal about these topics here.
My writing here comes with a complication. I have co-founded several companies, one of which flopped and another of which was sold last year to Nokia. I’ve invested in several others, and advise others. I’m on the board of two journalism-related nonprofits and co-founded another.
Salon’s editor in chief, Joan Walsh, and I have discussed this at length. I will avoid writing about any enterprise in which I have a financial stake, and disclose — in addition to my full disclosure page at my personal website — anything that we think might be relevant in this regard. This may get tricky at times, I realize. But my goal will be transparency.
I’m jazzed about working with the great people at Salon and the community it has created. I’ll always keep in mind what I learned well over a decade ago when I started writing for the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley’s newspaper: My readers know more than I do.
So tell me what you know, and we’ll keep learning together.