Sunday, 18 March 2012

The frustration newsrooms must feel

Having spent most of the weekend working away on various websites I can't help but ponder the extreme frustration so many newsrooms must feel.  But let me start at the beginning.

I'm a bit different in the newspaper industry - always have been the black sheep and was featured as an Insurgent in a New Hampshire paper (of all places) in our early days, but that's another story.  To keep this on the shorter end of my epistles, the black sheep trait that I'm speaking of here specifically is that I was a born techie meddler far before I considered entering the newpaper realm.  But in my region, I was way before my times (by about 15 years) - so evenutally I conformed (which took me 8 years). I learned to focus on print and push my digital love affair to the back burner (rather ironic now in light of the state of things).

As time went by, like most independent, small publishers without a parent company to fall back on, I found myself buried under the stack of day-to-day operations. This resulted in pushing me farther and farther from my digital dreams, to the point that now, in the face of radical changes in the print industry I find myself working insanely late hours and most weekends in an attempt to revive my digital drive.

As a techie meddler I know enough about the digital world to be dangerous and lack enough hands-on skill to be frustrated.  I know what I need to do and what I want to do, but not how to do it all myself. As the Publisher of a small, bi-weekly community newspaper I also lack the resources to hire the people to do it for me. So - I learn and I make progress, albeit slowly.  But after several hours I start to ponder many of the newspaper people that I have met in my travels and I can't help but to empathize with them and what they're going through.

Why? Because opposite to me (for the most part), newspaper people, first and foremost, have a love affair with news, journalism, the flow of a newsroom... they are not often born techies and I've seen first hand the frustration that goes along with a non-techie being forced into the digital world.  It's really not pleasant.  If you can't relate to this, perhaps try to think of a parallel situation - a child that hates school, or a particular task that you always dread having to do but know that you absolutely must do it.  Think about how that task makes you feel or how being around that child makes you feel?  Think about the quality (or lack of) of what is getting done under pressures of force. Or perhaps consider the overwhelming anxiety that flows through a person who finds out that they can no longer work a job that they've done for 40 years and there is nothing else that they know how to do.

Honestly, this is not a lifestyle I would wish on my worst enemy.  The frustrating thing for me, is that I know there is a better way, I have the solution... but as it turns out, patience is not exactly one of my strengths ;)

The business model I referred to in my previous post addresses this exact situation (among many others).  For the sanity of the newsrooms, I sure wish I could make it all happen at a much faster rate to help you guys out.  But fear not, I'm nothing if not tenacious and I will find a way.

I am looking for board members, advisors and investors to help lead this media revolution - so keep that in mind as you ponder through your day.  If you'd like to chat, let me know!

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