For the first time in two decades I'm not on the payroll of a large media corporation. As of today I'm on the payroll of a one-person company, comprised of me, but media is still on my agenda.
As many of you know I'm going to work hard on a project to inspire, enable and create what many have been calling a new kind of journalism. In the new world that I and many others believe is coming, the grassroots will have a fundamental and crucial role in the process -- a change that I tried to outline in my book, We the Media, which appeared in the second half of 2004.
For me, this departure is challenging and exciting. I've left what surely is one of the best jobs in mainstream journalism, and will miss my former colleagues immensely (not to mention the pay, benefits and freedom to say what I believed).
I'm also jazzed. Yes, this is a chance to truly walk my talk. But the opportunity to be in on what I consider a pivotal shift, and to be involved just as it begins to happen, made my decision easy.
To help get this project off the ground, I'm fortunate to have early support, financial and otherwise, from some first-rate folks -- people whom I admire and whose work has inspired me:
- Mitch Kapor combines a passion for excellence with a conviction that change must come from many places -- and that when communities are given a way to coalesce they can accomplish great things. He and his colleagues at the Open Source Applications Foundation, Mozilla Foundation and Level Playing Field Institute are making a difference every day.
- Pierre Omidyar and his team at the pathbreaking Omidyar Network also believe in the possibilities when everyday people can use emergent networks to create communities and do things for themselves. As Pierre told Business Week in a recent interview, "Long-term sustainable change happens if people discover their own power."
I'm grateful, moreover, for the good wishes that have poured in since I made my intentions public several weeks ago. I'll do my best to justify all the kind words, but I won't accomplish much by myself. This will be a collaborative effort.
Next Steps, and a Caution
This project is still very much in an embryonic state, however. I have to emphasize that point, because some of the online chatter and speculation has raised absurdly high expectations, certainly in the short term. I have many ideas, including some quite specific ones, but the larger framework has yet to be developed, much less built.
In the longer term, who can say? But I do know one thing: If anything worthwhile comes of this, and I strongly believe it will, the achievements will be ours, not mine. They will be the result of many people's ideas, good will and effort. If I can help clear a path for people who want to join the vast, global conversation, I'll be happy.
For the immediate future I plan to use this blog to ponder the present and future of grassroots journalism; to begin to figure out what we might do together in this new world; and, in general, to have the kind of conversation that this huge topic requires.
Of course, I'm far from the only person who's thinking and talking about this stuff. I'll point you to the best work I see, and count on you to let me know when I miss something important.
Anyway, enough of this lecture. Let's start talking, and figure this out together.