Tuesday, June 19, 2012

10 commandments for digital news entrepreneurs

Versión en español aquí.

I have been inspired by a book about 13 new digital media launched in Spain by entrepreneurial journalists.

The book -- Microperiodismos: Aventuras Digitales en Tiempos de Crisis -- profiles some news organizations that are defying the voices of pessimism, the economic crisis in Spain and competition from the traditional media.

The authors, Eva Domínguez y Jordi Pérez Colomé, compiled 13 stories of journalists motivated by passion, service to the community and a search for alternatives to working for big media companies.
In the book's Epilogue, the authors summarize the lessons learned by these entrepreneurs in the "10 Commandments for Digital Entrepreneurs." Many of these commandments are ideas I have heard from other news entrepreneurs in other countries. In other words, it is not that there are rules so much as common discoveries in the new world of journalism.

The advice is relevant to more than 5,000 media workers in Spain whose jobs have been eliminated in the last two years.

The 10 Commandments of Digital Entrepreneurs
    1. Don't look for a job. A crisis is an opportunity to be creative. Many projects get started when the founders have been laid off and have the time, desire and necessity to do something on their own. But if you have work, make the most of it. You will have more economic stability -- but much less time to devote to the project. 
    2. Create something that doesn't exist. Look at the market. There are thousands of topics that the traditional media don't cover. Not just news but a point of view or a style can be the innovation. 

    3. Pick something that you care passionately about. If you can't make a living from it right away, at least you won't be bored. If you never make a living from it, at least you will have enjoyed your work.  
    4. Work as much as you can, and then some. After coming up with the idea, the thing that is more important than talent is the time you devote to the project. Caution: this can create problems with family, friends and, above all, partners.

    5. Recruit a team with varied skills. A group of journalists can be valuable, but without a programmer, a salesperson, a designer they amount to nothing. Varied backgrounds are essential.

    6. You can't know everything. When you think you have mastered WordPress, Twitter and Facebook, along come Tumblr, Foursquare, Quora. When you think you write pretty well, you have to learn how to record and present on video. Learning is constant. What works today won't be enough tomorrow.

    7. Seek multiple revenue sources. Be flexible and creative. Don't view the business side as something separate and apart: every part of your organization is essential.

    8. You are the brand. The world has to know who you are: develop a style.

    9. What you don't see is critical. A digital news product might look great, but don't neglect the less visible tasks of billing, training and administration.

    10. You're going to mess up. Try again. You're going to have crackups. Then you will know what to do. You can try again. Or not.

Robert Niles: How to Make Money Publishing Community News Online
How much to charge advertisers? As much as possible
More paywalls won't save journalists' jobs
Google takes magic out of advertising sales process
How I ran my newspaper monopoly
Language barrier helps publisher paywalls
How to tailor news for 4 different platforms? 'Responsive design' 

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