More adventures in media dog-paddling

I’ve expressed here before that the ubiquitous “follow your passion” enthusiasts don’t always acknowledge that not everyone can really follow their heart’s desire because, quite frankly, every desire doesn’t quite translate into ample revenue streams.

Web wine impresario Gary Vaynerchuk (read halfway down on that previous link) has expanded that mantra in a new book that explains his success and encourages others that they can enjoy the same.

Perhaps I’m suspending my skepticism a bit, but his easy-to-absorb, 142-page “Crush It!” fully outlines his case in ways that videos and short blog posts and online articles can’t. But Vaynerchuk is careful to point out that this isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, and that using social media isn’t an end in itself. They’re tools to build and grow a business, just like traditional advertising and public relations, and not merely shiny new toys.

He leads the chapter “A Whole New World” with the upheavals in the news media, and how that can be a good thing for journalists with a passion to go beyond traditional newsroom limitations. Indeed, he states as simply and clearly and realistically as anything I’ve read on this subject the imperative for journalists to become news entrepreneurs:

“News has always been functioning under a communistic regime, but capitalism always wins. . . . The changes affecting the news business are permanent. . . . And, like it or not, many people’s respect for quality reporting has eroded. This upsets me as much as the next guy, but the fact is that it’s a trend that is having a huge impact on business and needs to be noticed and accepted. . . . I assure you, this is how things are going to roll.

“The only arguments I get in this debate, by the way, are from journalists and individuals with an emotional attachment to the idea of ink on paper and the romance of sipping a cup of coffee while reading the Sunday Times. Most business people know I’m right.”

That last sentence I think is as essential to keep in mind because it’s a point that most journalists are not accustomed to considering. We fret and get all sentimental about how newspapers aren’t what they used to be. But so many of us outside that world don’t consider the ways in which we can create news businesses of our own, as fledgling as most may be during a dramatic period of transformation.

In light of all this, I really needed to read such a level-headed refresher to think and act proactively, with no nostalgia or excuse-making attached:

“If the traditional platforms are sinking ships, then journalists are sailors who need to jump. If they’re not strong enough to get to the new ships, yes, they’re going to drown. But those who are great swimmers are going to sail very, very far. That is the way business has always played and always will.”

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