"Think about being entrepreneurial." That was one of two pieces of advice Walt Mossberg offered to up-and-coming tech journalists. The other pearl of wisdom was equally large: be honest and transparent in your reporting.
Mossberg left The Wall Street Journal at the end of the year. Now, he and colleague Kara Swisher (along with the team from the Journal's All Things D) have created a new technology news source, Re/Code. Mossberg's advice, delivered on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday, doesn't apply exclusively to tech journalists. If you string the industry headlines together, it's good advice for anyone who is currently in or wants to enter the field.
The New York Times reports that The Washington Post's Ezra Klein may leave to pursue a new venture. (I am currently on leave from The Post.) Meanwhile, successful tech entrepreneurs are diving into the media industry, both buying and creating media properties. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post last year for $250 million. Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar is launching a new entity, First Look Media, along with Glenn Greenwald and a growing list of journalists. Andrew Sullivan left The Daily Beast to independently publish The Dish. GigaOm's Mathew Ingram chronicles others who left their previous posts to launch new projects, such as Nate Silver (who left The New York Times for ESPN) and Jessica Lessin (who left The Wall Street Journal to launch The Information).
Then there was "Gawker's Viral News Genius" ("Reliable Sources" description, not ours), Neetzan Zimmerman, who is leaving Gawker to be the editor-in-chief of a start-up called Whisper, which he described as "the Anonymous Anti-Facebook". The memo Gawker editor John Cook sent to staff regarding Zimmerman's leaving sums up the significance of Zimmerman's contribution to the company's bottom line, reading in part: "...we're f-----, start traffic-whoring." Cook goes on to write that Zimmerman's traffic numbers will be made up for, writing, "We'll find others to harness the power of Facebook algorithms and make sure we're hitting the traffic sweetspots that we need to."
Entrepreneurship is becoming the norm at all levels of media. It is no longer survival of the fittest publication. It's survival of the fittest individual content creator whether they are inside a major news organization or a startup they or someone else have founded. This isn't a new trend. But when a reporter of Mossberg's stature advises up-and-coming journalists to strike out on their own (or at least be prepared to) in the breath adjoining one where he repeats journalism's core tenet -- it's worth taking note.
In fact, the latter half of this week's "Reliable Sources" was a bit of a parade of start-up and entrepreneurial endeavors. In addition to the two interviews, there was the tour of Hulu, during which host Brian Stelter made note of the start-up atmosphere and the company's development of original programming in a similar vein to streaming and movie rental delivery service Netflix.
The media landscape is rapidly and constantly changing. But this year, it seems, will be particularly significant -- especially for news. Don't be surprised if you begin to see an even greater emphasis on multidisciplinary teams within newsrooms and media companies, new mindsets about business models and media products and, most importantly, new methods for user interaction and feedback platforms. There is an opportunity now, even more so than in the past, to design yourself, your career and your team as a media professional. Rising through the ranks is receding as a way to achieve fulfillment and accomplishment in the craft. Instead, it's about building your team, your brand and, ultimately, yourself.
Follow Emi on Twitter at @emikolawole.