Newsroom of the Future

This is my mash note to Mitch Joel, president of Montr?al-based digital marketing agency Twist Image, whose blog, ?Six Pixels of Separation,? is currently my mental vitamin.

I discovered Joel’s blog when I googled ?How to build a media empire? during a recent fit of megalomania and was delighted to find his informative post entitled, affirmingly, ?How to Build a Media Empire.? Destiny.

As Joel opines:

Think local and think quality.

Create an online platform similar to that of The Huffington Post (essentially, a Blog platform for multiple authors with some added functionality). Hire 3-5 amazing journalists from the city that you serve (some of the best have already been let go from the big publishers), pay them well and hook them up with a laptop, Flip Video camera, a M-Audio MicroTrack recorder, the fastest Internet connection you can find, and then let them do what they do best: create local stories with a high level of quality and opinion… Create areas that are based on a wiki platform, and let everyone in the community mass collaborate (areas might include: school closings, events calendar, announcements, etc…).

Leave them alone for a couple of years.

More follows, but I encourage you to read it at the source. I shared the post with a number of my colleagues, all of whom were struck by the elegance of the model, as well as the suggestion ?Leave them alone for a couple of years,? a line which should become a media mitzvah. It certainly resonated with my gang, especially those who had just been laid-off.

Interestingly, this week, Joel posted a YouTube video lifted from the KRON television news archives, circa 1981, which opens with an anchor woman delivering the Rod Serling-esque line: ?Imagine, if you will, sitting down with your morning coffee, turning on your home computer and reading the day’s paper.? Cue Buddy Holly’s ?That?ll Be the Day,? to underscore the irony.

I found the back-to-the-future, pre-Internet flashback especially apropos since I?d recently admitted in my (printed newspaper) column that I had canceled the Times and WSJ and instead glean information from online news sites (and, apparently, Joel). The most prescient moment of the video, however, comes when the San Francisco Examiner’s David Cole contends ?We’re not in it to make money. We’re probably not going to lose a lot but we aren’t going to make much either.?

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