I am keeping up on our annual broadcasters convention on Twitter (hashtags #rtnda and #nab), as well as the RTNDA web site, which is using CoverItLive to cover the biggest seminars.)

Today’s big event seemed to be about how to use new technology to better cover our communities.   And I think it looks and feels like entrepreneurial thinking  because there is always some risk in using new technology in place of old.

There are a quickly growing number of journalists using tools like TwitPic, Twitterific and dozens more to bring their followers to news conferences, breaking news and more – and it’s not on the station’s website!  Twitter didn’t promote this as a journalistic tool – some bright journalist started using it and word-of-mouth spread its use.

I’m not knocking it; I full support the use of Twitter in my newsroom, or Information Center.  We have found stories; we have lined up interview subjects for our newscasts; we have hundreds of followers just on our automated feed of story headlines.  And I will bet 1/2 of those followers don’t watch our TV newscasts.

So why do it?  Because, as an entrepreneur would do, we have to take risks.  We have to try different ways to reach our customers on their turf, knowing we will make nothing now and, perhaps, ever.  You can change out Twitter for Facebook and make the same argument – and I’ll discuss Facebook at a later time.

My point is this: Bravo to Steve Safran and Chip Mahaney for leading a discussion of new technology, risk-taking, flag-planting toward our journalistic, entrepreneurial future.  It’s meetings like this that keep me so excited about what’s going on now and what’s to come.


As soon as I finished my blog, I started checking my Google Reader.  I came across this article from Mashable about what newspapers need to do now.  You can substitute TV for newspaper.

Last night, I wrote about this being the time for jentrepreneurs, time for us as journalists to think and act like entrepreneurs: no bad ideas, try different things without fear of failure, all while working at a quick pace.

I read some of industry’s leaders met at the National Press Club Monday, saying some very familiar things.  While you can read the article here, let me share a few key words:

“This is not about a declining market. This is about a growing market. The problem is the revenue is going in different directions.”

That was from Tom Curley, head of Associated Press.  The AP is transforming itself.  When I started in TV, we received AP wire on a ticker machine.  Now. I can read the latest AP headlines for free on my iPhone, sometimes more detailed than the AP service we pay thousands of dollars for at the station.  AP is also now in the video business.  AP makes most of its money from newspaper clients and we know what’s happening to that industry!

TV stations that get it are not waiting around for that to happen.  For example, WZZM was once just a TV station.  Now, a 3-screen multi-media Information Center, servicing:

  • 2 TV channels – 3 if you count HD
  • 3 web sites
  • Web widgets on multiple sites
  • 2 mobile channels…. you get the idea.

Many stations have this, some even more.  They are Twitter-ing, Facebook-ing, MySpace-ing, LinkedIn-ing, all in an effort to talk to customers where they already are, trying to interest them in content relevant to their lives.  What else is out there we should try?  What other platforms are digital influencers using right now?

Are we making big money on any of the social networking sites?  No.  Are we doing this as part of our plan for the future.  Absolutely.  I hope you’ll hear a lot forward thinking at Thursday’s National Press Club event at the Ford Museum.   If you come and don’t hear it, demand it.

You may have heard of the term crowdsourcing before.  If you haven’t, to me, the basic definition is using a large group of people to work on something.  The Gannett newspaper in Ft. Myers, Florida, had one of the best examples of this when it used the large retiree community to investigate the high cost of water/sewer hookups (read this Wired article for more.)

Hundreds of TV stations and newspapers are asking their customers to help them cover news stories every day, including my station, WZZM 13.  Most are asking people to cover breaking news with their cell phone still/video cameras.

That’s not necessarily new.  What is new is the number of TV stations recruiting college students, arming them with cameras and asking them to shoot their communities.  It’s happening in NYCABC News is also doing on college campuses across the country.

Will this sort of  ‘college crowdsourcing’ replace professional journalists?  Personally, I don’t think so.  But there are several jentrepreneurial lessons I have learned:

  1. No bad ideas out there.  It’s only bad if you have no ideas.
  2. Stop looking at innovation as a way ‘they’ want to get rid of ‘you.’ We have to reinvent this business.
  3. If you have an idea, make sure you tell someone in a position to try it.

What do you think?