hank green EPA youtube

Three types of “Journalism Thinking” coming from outside news organizations

This was originally published as a tweet thread.

I’ve spent 15 years obsessed with the bleeding edge of journalism, marketing and online community building, and I finally have a grand unifying theory for what is happening — and where this is going.

If you’re interested in how we learn and connect together, hear me out ?

For 20 years, online content has gone smaller & shorter. Now a class of creators are going the opposite direction — deeper, longer, bigger. Their goal? To develop communities of trust.

I’m calling this Journalism Thinking — not quite journalism but the similarities are striking. I’ve collected hundreds of examples in three categories:

  • ?Creators: indies telling great stories to get big audiences
  • ?Marketers: savvy ones going deep on data and stories to connect
  • ?Advocates: mission folks using research and story to drive change

Here are a few recent ones

  • Songwriter-influencer Amanda Palmer told her 1m+ followers she was launching a SubstackInc to get answers to reader questions. Could she call herself a “journalistener” she asked?
  • Taylor Lorenz wrote about the White House’s “TikTok briefing” on the Ukraine war for creators. At least one, Yale undergrad Kahlil Greene defended his independence at the briefing as an act of “journalistic integrity”
  • The New Yorker just did a big profile of “Coffeezilla”, the youtuber who came to fame with the help of his big investigations into crypto scams
  • Here’s author-creator Hank Green who just did a deep explainer of Biden’s big climate bill, including an interview with EPA chief Michael Regan and other first-source data scouring
  • Yes, this Journalism Thinking movement has even gotten a tacit Gary Vaynerchuk endorsement. Too much online content is “selfish.” Instead creators should put out content like they work in TV, newspapers or radio when “media was a public service domain”

Sometimes the reason the thing isn’t working for you is because your intent is selfish and other humans sense that … might be time to actually think “what’s in it for them” when you make content .. when I ask friends… seems like a lot can answer whsts in it for them but struggle when I ask the reverse ????????

? original sound – Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Then there is Prof. Scott Galloway , a marketing professor who transitioned from pundit into publisher. If Theranos was brought down by the Wall Street Journal, famously Prof G played as much a role on WeWork
  • All the serious content marketers are talking about VALUE and TRUST. Here’s super smart Ryan Law VP of Content at influential @AnimalzCo advising other content marketers to step up their game and go “interview more experts.”
  • Here’s one from @mmendeswrites : “Effective content marketers [are] a lot like a newspaper editor-in-chief”
  • Databox CEO Pete Caputo IV looked at all the media properties that are becoming commonplace at any growth-stage company and was like what is happening? It’s Journalism Thinking, my dude
  • No one helped me understand the content marketing side better than my close bud @SeanBlanda , who is a trained journalist making @Crossbeam one of the most interesting and trusted data partnership companies in the world
  • He pointed me to this essay from @hbomax exec Katie Hasty, which notes a similar trend: outside of news organizations, journalism skills are a differentiator — and can be used for big impact and to reach business goals
  • Then the advocates: Human rights group @bellingcat documents war crimes with people stories to explain on-the-ground horror. As this splashy @60Minutes profile shows, their work is nearly indecipherable to the work of many international news orgs
  • One last example of a growing list: Look at Energy News Hub, which is technically “owned” by a climate change advocacy group. But I met and interviewed @kenpaulman They take truth and accuracy as seriously as anyone

My point? Say it loud for those in the back:

Journalism is a ? strategy ?, not an industry
Journalism is a ? strategy ?, not an industry
Journalism is a ? strategy ?, not an industry

What is similar across all of them? They all follow some version of five philosophies:

  1. Storytelling methodology (people first)
  2. Truth and accuracy (fact checking, etc.)
  3. Transparency and independence (disclosures)
  4. Developing a fixed record (archive)
  5. Timeliness

What does this all mean? This is a major opportunity for a new generation of standards for a truer, more accessible internet.

Over the last year, I’ve interviewed dozens of people doing this work and am codifying across these efforts. I’d love to talk to you if you’re involved

Leave a Reply