‘Journalism Thinking’ doesn’t need a business model. It needs a call to arms

I originally posted this on Medium here. It received considerable endorsement, including here, here and here.

Early professional news networks in the 14th and 15th centuries were couriers on horseback, informing warlords and merchants. Even competitors saw the value in shared professional news gathering, when there wasn’t a state-owned alternative. Subscriptions, then, subsidized the first foreign affairs and business reporters.

Over the next 500 years, innovations in distribution and in printing and paper technology shaped professional news-gathering into the 20th century model we most recognize today: advertising revenue subsidized relatively low unit costs to ensure widely available mass media (albeit almost exclusively from a white male perspective, but that needs its own post entirely).

Today we’re well into the first generation of the digital transformation of news-gathering and distribution. Yet we as journalism practitioners are still managing to underestimate how dramatically things have changed.

Continue reading ‘Journalism Thinking’ doesn’t need a business model. It needs a call to arms

3 simple ideas for thriving in an open office

You can find a lot of solid advice for surviving the open office.

The historical arc of offices is richly told. Despite the criticism they get, I’m fond of them, over many offices or more established cubicles. Someone recently asked me for advice, and I found I had three quick answers that I stand by.

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I changed a lot at my company. Here’s why beating a big Q1 revenue goal meant so much

version of this essay was published as part of my monthly newsletter a couple weeks back. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.

Nobody wants to follow someone who made General in peacetime.

I’ve been thinking about that concept a lot lately (Ben Horowitz calls its Peace/War Time CEO). In 2017, after eight years of informally leading the tiny community journalism organization I cofounded, I named myself CEO. Up until that point, my cofounder Brian and I had survived together. We’d always find a way to last a bit longer, growing slowly and thoughtfully as we navigated treacherous waters.

That survival approach was rational for growing a local news company in the early 21st century,  a time in which consumers maintain very high expectations for free and independent journalism but have not yet been fully trained to actually pay or otherwise support its work in a post-advertising world.

But in early 2018, as I was finally feeling the great responsibility of the CEO title, I took stock of where my company was.

Continue reading I changed a lot at my company. Here’s why beating a big Q1 revenue goal meant so much

A look at the $23 billion Search and Placement industry

The Human Capital Management industry is a big one. Many segment it into Search and Placement, still a $23 billion annual gargantuan that encompasses how companies hire the right people.

In the last several years, we at Technical.ly have continued to focus on how our newsroom can compete in this cluttered industry by leveraging the trust we have and aim to develop with hard to reach jobseekers in the communities we serve. We’re producing more content on the topic, and I’ve begun to do more speaking on the topic.

I’ve also been doing lots of reading and gathering of worldview, particularly in the last year. In cleaning out a notebook, I found a slew of trends and numbers I was poking around, so I decided to share them here.

Continue reading A look at the $23 billion Search and Placement industry

9 examples of substance from nine years of Technically Media

My thoughtful coworkers brought in to the office a young Ben Franklin impersonator to discuss entrepreneurship and civic good in publishing last month. It was perhaps the most fun celebration of the ninth anniversary of starting what became Technically Media I could ask for.

(For some reason, someone shouted out that we should only have serious faces in the above photo. Believe me, we were having lots of fun.)

Afterward, I did a little Twitter rant I thought I’d save here for posterity.

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Here are a few things I told a Young Professionals Council

Last month, I was the featured speaker in a regular CEO series hosted by the Young Professionals Council of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia.

More than 40 people kindly came out to hear me be interviewed. We talked about Technically Media, tech and impact trends and journalism. (Yes, there was an Amazon HQ2 question: I said I was betting on the D.C. market but thought Philadelphia had a strong enough offering that I refuse to be surprised if chosen).

Below I share a few other thoughts I shared, mostly prompted by audience Q&A.

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Watch my interview on ‘The Blind Entrepreneur’ podcast

Be more explicit with your team when you’re offering an opinion, a recommendation or stating a direct ask. Otherwise, a teammate might not know whether you’re sharing an idea or a demand.

It’s something I’m still learning and something I shared when I was interviewed on a podcast called ‘The Blind Entrepreneur.”

Host Johnathan Grzybowski helpfully has fuller show notes on the site here, where you can watch the episode. Find it below too.

Continue reading Watch my interview on ‘The Blind Entrepreneur’ podcast

Why it took 8 years for me to become CEO of my own company

I’m a first time entrepreneur, having cofounded a niche publishing company. For more than eight years, I have been among those most responsible for the organization’s longterm strategy. For most of those years, I played the role of public face, among the first to serve very nearly all the roles we now have. We have a team of more than 20 and invoiced for nearly $1.7 million in 2016, all of which I feel responsible for supporting and growing.

But only today did I take on the title of CEO.

No one had ever held the title at our organization before. In an era championing entrepreneurship and fetishizing the young and the innovative, we are quick to anoint untested first time founders as chief executives. How many one person or four person companies do you know with a first-time CEO? It’s meant to offer clarity and it’s a great resume line. I am going to tell you why I think that’s a mistake. It’s also why it took me eight years to feel comfortable calling myself an organization’s CEO.

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Newsrooms: be Accurate, Relevant and Productive

You won’t find a reporter who questions the importance of accuracy. It’s chief among the journalistic creeds.

Many, too, would understand the importance of relevancy to the craft — choosing to share what fits their publication’s audience and voice (though it takes some savvy to make those decisions consistently).

But what remains still foreign, even controversial, is the idea that reporting should be done with productivity in mind. A journalist should be able to say why they’re pursuing a story: what goals will be reached because of it?

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With $1.67M in 2016 income, here’s what I learned with Technically Media

Harvard University’s Nieman Lab journalism trade publication profiled last week Technically Media, the digital media company I cofounded, for the first time since 2012 (that year we got both a profile and an expansion look).

This new profile, which you should read, seemed like a grand opportunity to revisit the check I made in 2015 when we surpassed $1 million in revenue for the first time. So to supplement my professional accomplishments of last year, I wanted to share a few notes included in the Nieman Lab report I find important.

Continue reading With $1.67M in 2016 income, here’s what I learned with Technically Media