By Christopher Wink
First, here are three important, relevant beliefs I hold here:
Journalism is a tool to make better communities.
When it fails to do that, I do not care at all about journalism surviving. I don’t care about newspapers or reporters or nut grafs or editors or any of it unless they are making my community better. The people who care about journalism the industry surviving are either people who have nostalgic views of reading newspapers and/or are people who want a job in journalism — neither are balanced and emotionally well-informed here.
It is easier to make new things than it is to improve old things and humans are lazy and self-referential, so our instinct is to start many, smaller new organizations. That isn’t always bad, but, again, like the Philly tech/Tech Crunch example, we sometimes assume a new organization to find the story is what’s lacking, rather than stronger stories. It’s lazy.
Content creation and audience delivery are two different, specialized tasks. I have a long list of frustrations with the well-funded AxisPhilly effort, but here’s one of the top. Its founding CEO, its board and its staff, confused creation and delivery. They focused entirely on creating more content in a world crowded with it and spent no time on the strategy on getting anyone to find it. Having spent five years building up a full-time, local niche news effort with just barely 100,000 monthly page views, I know how challenging that is. I thought it was dismissive of that effort to launch and expect to be found immediately. Maybe at best, Philadelphia has an audience of 50,000 civic-minded residents who could serve as a stretch goal community. There is likely more work to be done in bringing together those 50,000 people than in creating more content.
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