Category Archives: business

Taking a major leap of faith starting a local news business

I meant to post this here at the time, but perhaps a nearly six-month gap between launching my own local news site and reflecting a little bit about did some good.

Frankly, I’ll admit I’m in way over my head. I’ve spent most of these formative weeks trying to cover the hell out of my community, and I’ve had some successes. But I’m nowhere near where I want to be with this, content-wise, and this is the product I need to build up to get the eyeballs to deliver to advertisers.

My fellow indie publishers say it takes at least a year to feel as though you have any traction, so I’m not getting too panicky.

Mostly, I’m working up the gumption to ask local businesses to support an emerging news source before I have the traffic they might expect. Building some relationships has been helpful, but I’ve barely scratched the surface there.

Why then? This seems nuts, and there are times it does to me. It’s been more apparent to many of us that “we can’t leave the news business to the business side anymore.” I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time, but honestly, I’m absolutely frightened.

Not of failing, I’d like to think. Quite often my biggest fears have come about from having nothing stand between me and the things I want the most. After 30 years in corporate media, there’s nothing more I think I can offer that declining, transforming section of my industry.

No, what I want to do more than anything is to create something for myself—my own news business—as well as for my community, a place where I grew up and that doesn’t have a solid news source of its own. There’s some local and Atlanta media, which are stretched thin and show up for big stories. There are lifestyle magazines that have the advertisers and social media numbers I envy, but sell their readers mostly grandiose consumption.

I know I’m crazy to push the notion that local news still matters, even in an affluent, wired community, but I’m learning from pioneers in this field that you have to be somewhat crazy to take a stab at this in the first place.

I’ve never run a business nor have I attempted before, but I’m giving this my best shot, believing as leaders in my new industry assert that it’s going to be community-minded journalists with an entrepreneurial bent who are going to save what’s left of local news.

We also need to convince those with investment dollars that the one-off, truly local models we’re building are worth funding. Nothing against non-profits, but the critical thing is business development:

“We need money backing business builders because that’s how new engines of prosperity are assembled. This is how dynamic, aggressive competitors are born, how markets change and how jobs are created.”

In 2017 the subject of local news became a frequent topic in the journalism profession, but there’s still precious little investment or patience with rebuilding it online as community newspapers emerged over decades starting in the late 1800s.

Digital advertising is being swallowed whole by Facebook and Google, and even successful web ventures like BuzzFeed are facing grim prospects. Whether the digital media bubble bursts as is being predicted or not, those of us on a much smaller scale have a chance to establish more of the necessary foundation.

But as I learned at a conference this fall for indie online news publishers, most of us are truly on our own. There is money to be made at the hyperlocal level, but getting advertisers to go with us, instead of Facebook, or fading legacy plays, is brutally difficult.

I’ve also spent far too much time making technology fixes and trying to figure out Facebook’s byzantine publishers procedures. So following that first-year-in-hell notion has helped my perspective quite a bit.

These six months have been like dog-paddling, trying to keep my head above water, but I’ve got to splash more decisively in the new year. The first half of 2018 has to be where the big push takes place if this project is going to have the success I’m still bullish about.

 

A little media blogging on the fly . . .

I do want to return to blogging a bit more substantively about many of the topics I’m linking to below. But I’m trying to launch a site and grapple with some serious server meltdown issues that are preventing this from happening. The life of a Web entrepreneur is a glamorous one, I tell you. What I offer here I do so without comment or elaboration — for now:

Newspapers Not Evolving Enough for Digital Demand:

“I have wanted to work for a forward-leaning digital company for a long time. Part of this is recognition that newspapers have limited resources, they are saddled with legitimate legacy businesses that they have to focus on first. I am a digital guy and the digital world is evolving rapidly. I don’t want to have to wait for the traditional news industry to catch up.”

We Need ‘Philosophy of Journalism:”

“Every journalism student should be required to take a course in ‘Philosophy of Journalism,’ to develop the intellectual instincts and reflexes that will make the approach to truth of both practices a permanent part of his or her intellectual makeup. Imagine a world in which every column about the Obama administration’s battle with Fox News came with profound context about the large issues involved. A sweet, rather than tweet, thought.”

Does Political Journalism Focus on the Trivial?

“In the 60s journalism was a craft, not a profession, and more identified with ordinary people. Now, we’ve lost some of our idealism. The media and politicians are going down together in terms of cynicism.”

‘The Daily Show’ crew serious about media criticism:

“Too often, King said, journalists’ political coverage — and that of media critics — ends up being sanitized and nothing but a perfunctory he said/she said exchange. ‘If you were going to talk about whether the earth is flat, and 99 percent of scientists are saying it’s round, and 1 percent are saying it’s flat, you wouldn’t bring on the 1 percent guy. That viewpoint is factually inaccurate and they shouldn’t bring him on just to give the illusion of balance.’ “

Fertile Ground for Startups:

“Startups are playing an increasingly important role in American business, and they may play a central role in any recovery. As of the end of 2008, companies infused with venture capital were responsible for generating 12 million jobs and 20% of U.S. gross domestic product, according to a recent survey published by the National Venture Capital Assn.”

The War for the Web:

“It could be that everyone will figure out how to play nicely with each other, and we’ll see a continuation of the interoperable web model we’ve enjoyed for the past two decades. But I’m betting that things are going to get ugly. We’re heading into a war for control of the web. And in the end, it’s more than that, it’s a war against the web as an interoperable platform. Instead, we’re facing the prospect of Facebook as the platform, Apple as the platform, Google as the platform, Amazon as the platform, where big companies slug it out until one is king of the hill.”

What brought all this about?

I thought this was a bogus story when I first heard about it, and can’t believe The New York Times made such a big deal about it over the weekend: President Obama’s all-guys hoops games, and what that might say about the true influence and “place” for women in his administration:

“Women are Obama’s base, and they don’t seem to have enough people who look like the base inside of their own inner circle,” said Dee Dee Myers, a former press secretary in the Clinton administration whose sister, Betsy, served as the Obama campaign’s chief operating officer.

Ms. Myers said women have high expectations of the president. “Obama has a personal style that appeals to women,” she said. “He is seen as a consensus builder; he is not a towel snapper and does not tell crude jokes.”

But wait, the hectoring gets sillier still, from NOW president Terry O’Neill. Then again, Obama was remiss in filling out an NCAA women’s basketball tournament bracket last season. What a Neanderthal!

At least Obama is playing golf with a woman! Oh joy! Nip that Martha Burk problem in the bud before it sprouts.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in the realm of high political circles, but I do cover sports for a living, and have devoted much of my work to covering women’s sports. Dee Dee, you don’t know towel-snapping like I do!

I know what it’s like to operate in a mostly male environment, and to push for more media coverage of women athletes who aren’t in the so-called “Bambi” sports (tennis, gymnastics, figure skating, etc.).

But I find this whining from very privileged women — the products of elite educations and powerful political, corporate and social connections I have never enjoyed — absolutely bamboozling. Former Wall Street Journal deputy managing editor and Portfolio editor Joane Lipman, also writing in the NYT over the weekend, sounds as though we’re still in the 1970s.

Perhaps this is the mid-life crisis issue for women of my generation. I understand their frustration, but I don’t share their dour mood. And I don’t like the implication that their experiences speak for all of us.

Neither do I have a problem with guys wanting to be with the guys, at least some of the time. Even males I know who are deeply involved in women’s sports need this release. Ladies, just let them be, for a few minutes out of the day.

Obama was right to call the claptrap over his hoops games “bunk.” As usual, he was being too polite. Women need to be more concerned with finding satisfaction with their own work and lives instead of worrying about symbolic issues and infantile name-calling on the Web.

Caught in the pinch of health care reform

Read (and listen to) this former newspaper journalist’s account of trying to nail down adequate, affordable health insurance for her family as a freelance writer and editor, and keep in mind that she used to cover this issue for the Chicago Tribune:

“I understood how health insurance worked, or at least I thought I did. So, leaving the Tribune and finding myself sort of cast adrift in the sea to get my own health insurance . . . “

“It was a real eye opener for me about how difficult it is to figure out. I thought I understood the language, [but] I would read these policies and not understand. It really made my heart go out to people who have no health insurance who get stuck trying to find this on their own.”

Is this any way to spark entrepreneurship, self-employment and small business activity? The national unemployment rate is nearing 10 percent, and it’s barely enough to get the president to utter the “e” word. His political opponents — including my congressman — barely match that lip service and offer few workable alternatives. Meanwhile, here’s Richards again:

“What if I lose the policy?. . . Finding this policy was a huge deal for me. Being able to have my entire family covered was a huge weight on my mind. The idea that we might get sick and they might cancel us, just like if you have a bad car accident and the auto insurance company will cancel you, the idea that that could happen with our health insurance is really terrifying, because what are you supposed to do then?”

Anyone who continues to insist that any move away from the status quo amounts to “European socialism” that would undermine the mythology of “rugged individualism” ought to be disabused of this rhetoric. The perpetually aggrieved Tea Party crowd sucks up so much media oxygen about health care and anything else it’s upset about — which is everything.

But middle-class people with middle-class values who need to be served by reform are part of no influential political constituency. They would be required to have coverage under most of the proposals floating in Congress, although it may not be more affordable than it is now. (In fact, the process could very well produce a magnificent debacle.) Yet they soldier on quietly.

They’re too busy trying to make a living, and scrambling to pay for health insurance, to protest.

In the interests of full disclosure — and to prevent any future long reach from Big Brother — I accepted no swag for writing this post. But if you want to toss some my way . . .

Ruminations on losing a grip on the future

A few links I’ve been reading about the Web, journalism, entrepreneurship and work, with my commentary on each. It’s good to step away occasionally from the gauntlet of deadlines I’ve got over the next few weeks.

If I seem overly blue today, I’m just dismayed by some of the activities coming out of Washington that will have a very profound impact on so many aspects of our lives. At a pivotal time — with recession, wars and technological and generational change transforming American society — elected officials are determined that the interests of those who finance their political careers, and not the public interest, will be served above all. Or they’re pandering to full-throated populist cries to reclaim the country for self-professed “real Americans” resolutely moored to a mythical past.

The bright future that so many envision with the advent of the Web and a new class of entrepreneurship is at stake, and it’s on the verge of being squandered.

And it’s been raining unremittingly for the last week in Atlanta, with very little end in sight. I have forgotten what the sunshine looks like.

FCC Chairman Proposes ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules:

“This is not about government regulation of the Internet. We will do as much as we need to do, and no more, to ensure that the Internet remains an unfettered platform for competition, creativity, and entrepreneurial activity.”

While I am very pleased to see this happening, my quick reading is that the Obama Administration is making only modest changes. Will they really be effective against the likes of AT & T, Comcast and Time Warner? Or will corporatist claims of “big government” cause a similar pushback that’s taking place on the health care reform front? As a budding Web entrepreneur looking at some unappealing health insurance options, my belief in the “change” agenda is not all that strong right now.

As someone quietly hopeful of more enlightened government policy on a topic that’s so important to the future of commerce and free expression, I’m getting tired of settling for whatever can be negotiated. The roaring partisans who don’t even wield power have the upper hand because they shout the loudest.

The Story Behind the Story:

“In this post-journalistic world, the model for all national debate becomes the trial, where adversaries face off, representing opposing points of view. We accept the harshness of this process because the consequences in a courtroom are so stark; trials are about assigning guilt or responsibility for harm. There is very little wiggle room in such a confrontation, very little room for compromise—only innocence or degrees of guilt or responsibility. But isn’t this model unduly harsh for political debate? Isn’t there, in fact, middle ground in most public disputes? Isn’t the art of politics finding that middle ground, weighing the public good against factional priorities? Without journalism, the public good is viewed only through a partisan lens, and politics becomes blood sport.”

Mark Bowden’s treatise in The Atlantic certainly reflects the weariness many feel about the highly polarized nature of politics in Washington, and the media beast that ravenously feasts on such unrelenting acrimony. No neutrality here. Web mavens have been shouting at old print hacks like me to ditch bland objectivity, and they are right to make this complaint — to a degree.

But I’m afraid that hard-edged, partisan, highly opinionated media will grow wildly, because that “middle ground” is vanishing faster than we imagine. If a viable conservative alternative to the Huffington Post ever emerges, then Bowden’s doomsday scenario will gain even more traction.

MSNBC is veering closer to being the same shrill, unyielding “news” outlet for liberals that Fox News is for conservatives (as entertaining as both are, in terms of sheer preposterous bombast). This is is not good news, of course, for the fate of the news. “Blood sport” is alive and well. It will comprise the future of media, and a healthy portion of we now call journalism.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s Startup Advice:

“People are chasing cash, not happiness. When you chase money, you’re going to lose. You’re just going to. Even if you get the money, you’re not going to be happy.”

This is the very chatty Internet wine entrepreneur who’s made a mint doing what he loves, and he’s a prime testament to the “follow your passions” school. For all of his insights and energy, however, I find the message stale. Not every “passion” or niche is potentially as lucrative as what he does. And there are a lot of bandwagon-jumpers, such as all those professing to be social media experts, who tend to reach for the shiny new viral career thing.

Still, I do follow his advice because I am one of those “passion” people. I am simply not happy if I cannot delve deep down into that niche that I love the most, as small as it is. I just wish Vaynerchuk and others would admit that one’s chances of enjoying his success are limited if his wisdom is heeded to the letter. What is missing from these peppy pronouncements is the admission that folks have to pay the bills, regardless of their passions.

The Happiest Occupations:

“The findings, psychologists say, reflect the importance of being free to choose the work you do and how you do it, the way you manage your time, and the way you respond to adversity. Regardless of occupational field, the survey suggests that seeking out enjoyable work and finding a way to do it on your own terms, with some control over both the process and the outcome, is likely for most people to fuel satisfaction and contentment.”

A riff on the same theme as above. I do find myself encouraged by these findings, but with so many people unemployed and scrambling to provide for their families, working “on your own terms” isn’t a very practical consideration right now.

Working Class Zero:

“Where was the Tea Party movement when the tax burden was shifted from the high end to the middle? Where were the patriots when Wall Street, backed in Congress by Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, rewrote securities laws so that the wonder boys of Lehman and A.I.G. could reduce home mortgages to poker chips at a trillion-dollar table?”

I’m not making any partisan claims here — neither major party offers much for anyone claiming to be an independent — but I’m fed up with all the ranting and raving about government spending and “socialism” that’s been dominating the political debate. This did not begin on Jan. 20, 2009. Or on Jan. 20, 2001, for that matter.

After reading James Stewart’s harrowing account of last September’s bailout crisis — we came closer to the brink of financial catastrophe than I ever realized — I cannot believe we have a political class, and a citizenry, still dug into the same entrenched positions, still making the same tired arguments.

Republicans decry big government when they did little to stop it as a Congressional majority, and with a president of their own party in office. They play to a Tea Party crowd that likes to draw Hitler mustaches on Obama faces when not Photoshopping him as a witch doctor, insisting he was born in Kenya and claiming he’s a Muslim.

Democrats refuse to make serious spending cuts to repair the financial system and economy and back up their costly health reform promises. They play to a union constituency that represents only a small percentage of American workers while paying lip service to entrepreneurs and small business owners who don’t appear to be any better off under health care mandates that could very well punish them more than help.

At least the majority is trying to govern, as opposed to those who obstinately want to block anything from taking place.

But this is no way to take a big step toward grabbing hold of the future. It is a guarantee of fumbling it away.

Readings: News entrepreneurs, the security of freelancing and taming digital distractions

What follows are some links rattling around in my brain, and between the sofa cushions, as I battle to meet a major project deadline and get a better handle on this scattershot life on the Web I’ve been leading. It’s been a romp this week, and by no means is Friday the end of my work week. But hey, I’m not complaining. The joy of deep immersion in the work I love has me getting the same adrenaline rush of breaking news hitting my old newsroom.

If you’ve got some time this weekend, these pieces are well worth your perusal. The first link is the second installment in Michael Massing’s gargantuan examination of the vastly changing news industry for The New York Review of Books (here’s Part I). The following delves into online news ventures and startups trying to replace the journalism that’s disappearing from newspapers:

A New Horizon for the News: “What we do have is a tremendous increase in enthusiasm and initiative that, in the age of the Internet, counts for more than transmitters and printing presses. The retreat of the giant corporations and conglomerates is creating the opportunity for fresh structures to emerge. It remains to be seen whether foundations, wealthy donors, and news consumers will step forward to support them. . . .The opening won’t last forever. Lurking in the wings is a potential new class of media giants. Google, Yahoo, MSNBC, and AOL, all have vast resources that could finance a new oligopolistic push on the Web.”

How journalists can become successful news entrepreneurs: “Great reporters are resourceful. They don’t take no for an answer. If one official won’t answer a question, they’ll go find a document or dig a little more until the official feels compelled to answer. What ever it takes to get the story. No wall is too high or too thick once a good reporter sets his or her mind to reporting a particular story. That drive is the first pre-requisite to being an entrepreneur.”

Can Anybody Pull Off Long Form on the Web? “Salon also thinks that its content—mostly long-form, originally reported stories about politics, entertainment, technology and other topics—is just too costly given the level of interest from advertisers. It believes that advertisers will be more excited by shorter, more real-time pieces.”

Steering Clear of Writers Mills: “For those who feel the need to write something, anything, start a blog. Create a newsletter. Put together a fanzine. Just do something that belongs to you, so that should something come of it, you’re the one benefiting. Let the big time investors do their own work for a change.”

10 Reasons Why Freelancing is the Best Job Security: “Freelancers get exposed to a diverse assortment of ideas, business models, workflow processes, and technologies. This helps you to stay fresh and on the cutting-edge of the best practices in your field.”

50 things that are being killed by the internet: “When was the last time you spent an hour mulling the world out a window, or rereading a favourite book? The internet’s draw on our attention is relentless and increasingly difficult to resist.” (the ones that hit home for me are nos. 9, 12, 14, 21, 27, 29 and 50)

The Hierarchy of Digital Distractions: “Emailing, writing, tweeting, designing, browsing, taking calls, Skyping, Facebooking, RSS Feeding – all blurred into a single technological trance. I seem to switch randomly from one to the other. But actually is there a subtle hierarchy in this cloud? Do I prefer some distractions over others? I think so.” (via Bert DuMars)

Finding a comfort zone for personal branding

After long being in a profession that stressed humility if not virtual anonymity, I’m finding that the necessity of this age — individuals constantly marketing and “branding” themselves — is taking some getting used to.

But I was encouraged last night while watching the debut of a national cable program hosted by a former colleague, someone who’s been able to blend the personal “brand” he has developed out of the beat he’s long cultivated as a journalist. He’s done plenty of TV work before, but this show has his name on it, and now he’s sitting in the captain’s seat. He’s offered his opinions on programs and in blogs in the past, but is opening up more in this new role.

This is an example that has helped me get more comfortable with stepping out from behind the shadows of my old newspaper byline, establishing my own name, and upgrading my expertise. For a long-time print journalist, adopting a personal public relations plan is an acquired habit.

Public relations executive Jeremy Porter poses the essential question: “What can you do that nobody else is doing?” as a focal point for his approach:

“The best way you can position yourself as an expert is to share your knowledge and help others. If you give your ideas away for free, you’ll reach a lot more people – and they’ll start to think of you as the expert in your particular niche. Always be asking yourself, ‘What do I know that would help this person? How can I help them get ahead or improve the performance of their programs?’ It might be as simple as making an introduction for them to somebody in your network they want to meet. Pay it forward and hope for the best.”

A challenge I find with a wealth of experience is to avoid dwelling on that background and being too settled in the present. The simple act of labeling what it is that you do should always be cast with the future in mind:

“If you want to be able to make money doing what you love, you have to (and I repeat) have a future plan or destination. Whether you’re a consultant, entrepreneur, you’re currently employed or you’ve been laid off, the same idea applies: position yourself today to become a player in that area tomorrow.”

Some post-Labor Day ideas on labor

I like to start each week with some positive, upbeat thoughts not only about the work I’ve got on my agenda, but also to stay sharp on the challenges of the changing nature of work, career and the creative impulses. Here are a few items that have been on my mind in recent days:

Lessons from the Great Recession: “Instead of relying on the onetime holy grail of employment—a good-paying job with full benefits—workers may find themselves becoming microentrepreneurs, especially those in creative businesses.”

Sole proprietors account for $1.3 trillion in revenue: “Given these numbers, it’s hard to believe we are often asked if sole proprietors play an important role in the U.S. economy.”

Slaves of the Bonus Culture: “The old class-defined distinctions between those who earn salaries and those who earn wages is thus breaking down. So we encounter the paradox that while everyone today is in some degree professional, that very specialisation combining skill and integrity is breaking down in another sense, especially among the managerial classes. It appears that among many of the richer and more powerful figures, only a kind of special wage, or inducement or incentive, called a bonus, can draw the best out of them.”

•  Work for Passion, Not Money: “You need to understand that your job isn’t just a mindless routine you go through everyday of your life, it’s to contribute – and if you don’t feel happy contributing in a particular field, do something you actually enjoy and are enthusiastic about.” (via Liz Greene)

Real Change, Not Spare Change: “We also need to put people to work building community organizations, and writing plays and making art. The artist’s paycheck is every bit as important as the banker’s paycheck or the auto worker’s paycheck.”

Self promotion and making money in the new digital economy: “In an age in which the old cultural gatekeepers are being swept away, the most pressing challenge of creative artists is to build their own brands. And it’s the Internet which provides creative talent with easy-to-use and cheap tools for their self-promotion.”

Why I Love the Humor of the Web: “As digital matures — and we all agree it is maturing — I hope it doesn’t turn sour and stuffy, like direct marketing traditionally has been (“customer relationship management,” “test-and-learn”), or haughty (“Manifesto”), ephemeral (“Whassup?”) and delayed, like advertising.”

Readings: The Web at 40, and how we’re still kids

I’ll admit it: I’m looking forward to a good long Labor Day respite, and so are you. So I’ll post some really good links here on a Thursday that I usually save for weekend reading. Will return on Tuesday after I get off the griddle for a few days (and I really mean it this time).

The first connection between two computers in September 1969 was a quiet event, eclipsed by such events as Woodstock. Now, some of my fellow aging Baby Boomers are trying to come to grips with the Web and all that it has wrought before we head for the rocking chairs.

What has become a major life-changing event for many of us in the media fields took place right after Richie Havens played his bongos on an upstate New York farm, Richard Nixon summoned the silent majority to speak up, a car careened off a bridge on Chappaquiddick and two men walked on the moon. There was a lot going on.

Various overview thoughts on the Web at early middle age here, here, and here, plus some goodies about the Web and digital life below that have many of us feeling like rebellious teenagers in the face of it all:

The Web Does Not Equal More Civic Engagement: “The impact of these new tools on the future of online political involvement depends in large part upon what happens as this younger cohort of ‘digital natives’ gets older. Are we witnessing a generational change or a life-cycle phenomenon that will change as these younger users age? Will the civic divide close, or will rapidly evolving technologies continue to leave behind those with lower levels of education and income?”

Bill would give President emergency control of Internet: “Rockefeller’s revised legislation seeks to reshuffle the way the federal government addresses the topic. It requires a ‘cybersecurity workforce plan’ from every federal agency, a ‘dashboard’ pilot project, measurements of hiring effectiveness, and the implementation of a ‘comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy’ in six months–even though its mandatory legal review will take a year to complete.”

The erosion of privacy in the Internet era: “Do we want to live in a society where the government can—regardless of whether they use the power or not—have access to all of our communications? So that they can, if they feel the need, drill down and find us?”

Multitaskers beware: your divided attention comes at a price: “Heavy multitaskers tended to be more readily distracted by extraneous information than their more focused peers. That doesn’t mean that multitasking is a total loss, as there may be benefits that weren’t tested in this study, but it does make the case that heavy multitaskers might want to consider the limits of their habits.”

Why Studies About Multitasking Are Missing The Point: “I reject the notion that media is a stream of soulless ‘content’ that I am ‘consuming’. As a result, I read differently than than someone who simply wants to scan the headlines. An article may cause me to look something up, and I read that, and I need to let some inchoate idea at the back of my mind bubble for a day before taking any measurable action.”

Sentiment Analysis Takes the Pulse of the Internet: “Social media used to be this cute project for 25-year-old consultants. Now, top executives are recognizing it as an incredibly rich vein of market intelligence.”

‘Social Networking’; Give me a break: “Granted, there are people spending too much time on social media, just as others 10 years ago spent too much time surfing the Web, or using AIM. I’m old enough to remember people who spent the entire morning pouring over every word in a newspaper sports section, or checking their stocks. Those who are non-productive in the workplace are obvious, whether they are addicted to Twitter or online puzzles. Why should companies spoil it for everyone else?”

How Twitter saved my career . . . and my life: “Over the course of my unemployment, my Twitter account grew from roughly 2,000 followers to more than 5,000, and it was undoubtedly these impressive numbers and a demonstrated knowledge of the power of social media that played a role in my hiring and differentiated me from others with similar skills.”

A history of blogging, and why it matters: “I am now one of them, although, like half of registered bloggers, I rarely update. As such, I can attest it’s possible to accept blogging with neither cynicism nor Rosenberg’s unequivocal enthusiasm. Blogging is time-consuming no matter what your profession, and if you happen to be in the business of selling your intellectual and creative capital, giving it away free can be a mystifying and maddening expectation.”

Race to Be an Early Adopter Goes Mainstream: “There’s really no group out of the tech loop. America is becoming a digital nation. Technology adoption continues to roll along, picking up more and more mainstream consumers every year.”

A year on the fly: Ink-Drained Kvetch turns one

A year ago today I began this blog to chronicle the efforts of a mid-career journalist attempting to continue in the profession outside the newsroom.

But I’ve realized for a few months that “Reinventing a journalism career in the digital age” — while an admittedly catchy subtitle — doesn’t properly describe the course I have been taking.

I’m just one of thousands of journalism and media professionals forced to restart careers in the last year or two, and our ranks are bound to grow. My story isn’t unique as I’ve emerged from the cocoon of the newspaper industry quite unaware what existed in the “outside” world.

And I’ve had a blast venturing far beyond my comfort zone, re-energizing the passions that I thought had been slipping away. Getting outside an institutional way of thinking and learning has been the best thing I could have done. I’ve taken on freelance assignments, received some terrific multimedia training and career counseling at the Poynter Institute, participated in a local news startup and begun another blog that I may be close to monetizing soon.

I’ve been dubbed a blogging “madwoman” and I take this as a compliment. I’m also involved in another sports startup designed to help replace some of the coverage disappearing from newspapers.

But while journalism and media will always be a major focus of what I explore here, lately I’ve been venturing beyond those topics and the work I’ve known all of my adult life. Massive job losses are prompting a major rethinking of careers and journalists are no exception to developing new methods to position themselves. But I believe that those in the so-called “creative” professions have a marvelous opportunity to take advantage of this upheaval.

For many people in mid-career, this is an unnerving and scary prospect, and not how we thought we’d spend the rest of our working lives. I’ve felt this way at times, but mostly I’ve been excited by immersing myself in media, business, technology, law, career, web, democracy and cultural topics as they evolve during the digital age.

The new subtitle of this blog: “Ramblings on the future of media, work and creativity,” is influenced by my post-newsroom experiences and by trusted friends, former colleagues and new acquaintances who’ve helped me stretch old boundaries. I’ve also been reading authors and doers on the cutting edge of what’s transpiring in many of those fields. A partial list (shameless name-dropper alert!): Daniel Pink, Nick Carr, Chris Anderson, Clay Shirky, Lawrence Lessig, Jeff Jarvis, Arianna Huffington and David Weinberger.

I haven’t always agreed with them, and some of them drive me up the wall. But I love to learn from people eager to challenge common assumptions and shake up sacred views. They’ve made me confront my own, and it’s become a valuable exercise during a period of great uncertainty. What we think we know or understand now may be either wrong or outdated within a matter of weeks. We are living on the fly more now than at any time in our lives. Ironically and sadly, journalists haven’t always been able or willing to adapt, often equating the acquisition of new skills to learning a foreign language.

We were trained to be generalists, to handle different kinds of stories across many subjects, and often on tight breaking news deadlines. But somewhere along the way mainstream journalism became too insular, guarded and self-important and lost its vitality in the chokehold of corporate bureaucracy, ethics policies suitable for robots and the gospel of bland “objectivity.” It drained the passion from our work, and from ourselves.

In the past year I’ve begun to unwind and discover new horizons I never contemplated before. I probably know even less than I did a year ago where all this is going to lead.

One of the best bosses I ever had told me, as I made the transition from print to Web journalism, that the only thing that won’t be changing from now on is change. Nothing will be settled, little will stay the same and everything is guaranteed to be torn up and begun anew. Like it or not, just get used to it.

I’d like to think I have.