The Harvard guys have been telling us that failing forward can be a good thing -- learning, adapting, all that innovation stuff. But there's another kind of failure: failing backward. Here's a how-to guide:
In the past week we've seen an uprising of angry people, mostly women, offended by the Susan G. Komen Foundation cutting off funding for breast cancer exams at Planned Parenthood clinics. It's just the latest example of how the global news conversation is in the hands of people, not just "the media." And it's what I had in mind over a dozen years ago when I talked about the rise of a new kind of people's journalism.
I was looking at a couple of recent job postings at our newspapers and it occurs to me that the baseline skill set has quietly shifted. Students and veterans alike should take notice:
Be prepared to work in multiple media, simultaneously. We're digital-first, but we still print.
Be prepared to blog and interact with the public. As a writer, this means you need to develop a distinct voice, and know when and how to use it. Not everybody gets a blog at first, but you should want one -- and know why you want one.
Here's a New Year's resolution I'd like to see made, and kept, by all tech journalists:
Report first, then think, then write. Don't skip the first two steps, and don't get them out of order.
Computer, networking and mobile technology is changing all of human society. Journalism about tech is important. But tech journalism today is a vast wasteland of plagiarism, rumormongering, empty snark, fanboiism, trolling, unfounded assumptions and whole-cloth invention.
Innovation can be messy. In fact, I'd go so far as to say innovation should be messy, if you want real progress.
In a piece of shallow pageview-trolling that's typical of tech "journalism," PC magazine is likening Google Chrome to Internet Explorer 6 (Satan's Web browser) because it's doing things other browsers can not, as yet, do.
There's a small, private get-together under way in Phoenix this weekend called #NewsFoo that is catching some flak on Twitter as being exclusionary and elitist. Same thing happened last year, and I think also the year before. It's not public. It's not transparent. It didn't advertise and accept applications.