Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

5 ways join in with the future of news

Posted in Entrepreneurial Journalism, Online Video by Adam Westbrook on January 20, 2011

A quick post today, sandwiched in between some pretty hefty ones. Here’s five quick ways to make sure you don’t miss a trick with the Future of News.

.01 subscribe to this blog – just put your email address in the box to the right of this page for more ideas and advice on online video & enterprise.

.02 join the Future of News Group on Facebookclick here: more than 250 people have already joined!

.03 follow me on Twitter – I’m @AdamWestbrook

.04 read this postand stick the recommended blogs into your Google Reader

.05 if you’re on Vimeo, subscribe to the video .fu channel, a growing collection of the best online video in the world

Sit back, relax, and let the future of journalism come to you!

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Video: top trends in journalism in 2011

Posted in Entrepreneurial Journalism, Online Video, studio .fu by Adam Westbrook on January 5, 2011

The New Year is here and that means it’s time to look ahead at some of the big trends in journalism in the 12 months ahead!

This year I’ve brought in some of the brightest young minds in journalism today, including Alex Wood, Tracy Boyer, Patrick Smith and Philip John for their suggestions – and the 11th prediction this year has been suggested by one of you guys!

Enjoy – and if you think I’ve missed anything good out, or got something completely wrong, then the comments box is right downstairs.

Happy New Year!

 

What’s your journalism prediction for 2011?

Posted in Adam, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on November 29, 2010

It’s nearly December and already it feels like the New Year is nearly upon us!

Time to prepare for the usual barrage of “best of 2010″ and “predictions of 2011″ posts from every blogger and every magazine in the land. And right here, it’s no different!

Except, as fans of the blog will know, I like to do it in video.

Last year’s film went down a storm, so I’m busy putting together my top trends for 2011. This time, though, I’m looking for your help.

What’s your prediction for what will happen in journalism in 2011?

Last year we talked about paywalls, hyperlocals and new startups. Next year – who knows? Data visualisation? Kinetic Typography? More whistleblowing?

After running through my top 10 predictions at lightning pace, I will select the 11th prediction from the comments in this blog post. So get thinking, and get suggesting. Surprise me! Intrigue me!

You have until Friday 10th December 2010 to post your ideas in the comments section below. I’ll select the most interesting, unusual or clever prediction to end this year’s film!

Next Generation Journalist: free giveaway!

Posted in Next Generation Journalist by Adam Westbrook on November 8, 2010

Amazingly it’s somehow six months since Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism was published.

It’s been selling incredibly well, and judging by comments, emails and tweets, it’s been making a difference in peoples’ lives too. All round awesome.

But I want more people to benefit from the ideas in the book.

Economically, the situation hasn’t gotten any easier for journalists anywhere in the west in the last six months. And arguably, with tens of thousands more journalism graduates entering the jobs market over the summer, the maths have gotten even more impossible.

So I think more people need a book like this – and for that reason, I have decided to give a chunk of it away – completely free.

From today you can get two of the most useful and practical chapters of the book without paying a penny. One of the giveaway chapters is a workbook with key questions you need to ask yourself about your career. Loads of people have found it very useful. The other shows you all about taking freelance journalism to the next level. And as an added bonus, you’ll also get a step-by-step guide to building a portfolio website to taut your wares.

Pretty sweet right?

Add to Cart

To get your hands on the free copy, just click on the button above and a .pdf will be on your hard drive in moments. If you want to get even more involved, you can also now join a new Facebook group, especially for Next Generation Journalists like you. Click here to get a look-in!

And that’s not the end of it – there’s another uber discount offer on the way before the end of the month…

Video: Nick Williams on the portfolio career

Posted in Journalism, Next Generation Journalist by Adam Westbrook on September 30, 2010

One of the easiest ways to become a Next Generation Journalist and forge your own exciting work life, is to create a portfolio career.

I go into this in some length in chapter one of the e-book, but the thrust of it is this: we are all good at more than one thing, and we can all make money from more than one thing. The result: a rewarding, challenging and profitable career which takes traditional ‘freelancing’ to a new level.

Last night I went to an event all about portfolio careers, hosted by Nick Williams, one of the thought-leaders on creative entrepreneurialism.  The point of a portfolio career, he says, is not holding down lots of bad jobs to make up a decent income – instead it’s a way of life you purposely pursue.

More and more people are becoming fed up with the rat race, realising life’s too short, and thinking about how they can get paid to do what they really love doing.

Is it something journalists can do? You bet, and many journalists already are. One of last night’s speakers was former ITN newsreader Katie Ledger (pictured, right). She left ITN a while back and now puts her journalism skills to use across a whole range of jobs, from working with Microsoft, to writing a bookAlex Wood, of Not on the Wires, combines his journalism with a thriving web design business; another Not On The Wires journalist, Marcus Gilroy-Ware combines reporting with lecturing and designing software.

I’ve been doing the portfolio career thing for a year now (more on that next week) – but alongside my video journalism and newsreading, I have been lecturing, speaking in different parts of the world, writing books and setting up a new business. It is possible, and it’s awesome fun.

The modern world is calling for more so-called ‘renaissance souls’ as Nick explains:

In this video:

  • you will learn why having a portfolio career is actually more secure than sticking with your 9-5
  • you’ll find out how it’s possible to balance having more than one revenue stream
  • and you’ll hear why journalists are actually positioned perfectly to exploit the demands of the 21st century

Video: Deborah Bonello on setting up MexicoReporter.com

Posted in Journalism, Next Generation Journalist by Adam Westbrook on September 29, 2010

Deborah Bonello is the embodiment of the Next Generation Journalist. Faced with the declining journalism industry we all face today, she did what no-one else had done, and created her own ideal job – from scratch.

She flew to Mexico, set up a simple website using WordPress, and single-handedly created a news website for English-speaking expats there. MexicoReporter.com became hugely popular in just a couple of years and got Deborah amazing offers of work.

Here, she talks about how she set up MexicoReporter.com: the challenges and the struggles.

In this video:

  • you will find out how Deborah founded MexicoReporter.com
  • you’ll discover the equipment she used to do it
  • you’ll hear about the challenges of setting up your own online magazine
  • and you’ll find out why it’s a great way to launch a foreign reporting career.

There’s loads more examples of Next Generation Journalists in action, including a comprehensive plan for 10 different awesome career paths in journalism in Next Generation Journalist. Click here to find out how to get a copy.

Future of News bootcamp: make money in travel journalism

Posted in Ideas for the future of news, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on July 29, 2010

It’s a journalists dream: getting paid good money to travel the world or live abroad. Travel Journalism still remains one of the more glamorous genres inside the trade and with good reason. But it’s been hit hard by the changes as much as anywhere else; is there still a good business in it?

The answer from the seven journalists who attended the second Future of News Business Bootcamp this week was a wholehearted ‘yes!…but you have to be clever about it.’

If you’re not familiar with how the bootcamps work then check out the explanation here; but essentially they work on the premise that smaller numbers, an informal location and some bottles of wine equals good ideas and creativity.

Joining the bootcamp this week were Sarah Warwick, Rosamund Hutt, Will Peach, Patrick Smith, Lexi Mills, Tony Fernandes and James Carr; all of them have done the travel journalism thing and want to keep doing it. So how did we do?

The right questions

We frame the bootcamps by asking a series of business orientated questions, applying them to a specific area of journalism.

What’s the value? The team suggested things like inspiration & escape as well as basic language and currency information. Patrick Smith made the very good point that the real financial value in travel journalism is the fact it is actionable: people will buy holidays, for example, off the back of an article.

What are the target markets? We broke into two groups to come up with creative and unusual niche markets for travel journalism. Very popular was the expat market inside a given country (a model proved successful for hard news reporting by MexicoReporter.com); business travellers; the PAs of business travellers; the children of diplomats and even servicemen & women looking for things to do in their various locations.

Where’s the pain? This final question is the basis for many of the most successful businesses of the last century. What pain can you solve with your idea? For us, we’re looking for pains which can be solved by a travel journalist’s information, writing or multimedia. Some great ideas emerged, including products for old people who want to do adventure holidays, a way to help people avoid getting ripped off at the airport and even for people who are ‘bored & abroad’.

It’s not the journalism, stupid

I think the greatest realisation at the end of the evening though was agreeing on what makes money on a website or mobile device. Now, this might seem shocking or controversial to some of you; I suspect others realised this long ago. But collectively we pretty much agreed that on any “news” product, the journalism itself doesn’t make any money. It never will. It never has. It never should.

Instead it facilities a wide variety of other products which do make money; a subscription service, a shop, a sponsored mailing list, events etc. They cannot make money without the journalism, but the journalism cannot exist without them making money.

It’s an interesting symbiotic relationship which I think would form the base of any future news business in the online world. What do you think?

Either way, most of our bootcampers left with new ideas and optimism, so that’s mission complete! We’ll be doing one more in August, before the public meetups return in September.

Thanks very much to Patrick, Lexi, Tony, James, Sarah, Will and Rosamund for taking part in the experiment!

Four reasons you need to pursue the future of journalism NOW

Posted in Journalism, Next Generation Journalist by Adam Westbrook on July 21, 2010

If you’re aged between 21 and, say, 40 and you’re in journalism (or want to get into journalism) you need to read this post.

It’s an optimistic one – but it carries a warning…and a call to action.

Yesterday I blogged how Jon Snow and Andrew Marr are excited by the possibilities the internet holds for journalism in the future. So ahead of us that’s two of the most established and traditionalist of British journalists getting excited about what we could all make happen.

Now look behind you

Because here’s the warning. If you’re going to do something about the future of journalism, you haven’t got long.

Right behind us, there’s an army – a whole generation – who already get it and are already better at it than you. Here are four examples.

Jamie Keiles

Jamie Keiles is 18 and a high school senior from Pennsylvania. This year she gave herself a project: to live according to the gospel of Seventeen Magazine for a whole month. She collected the experiences together on a blog, and created the Seventeen Magazine Project. Her articles include text and photographs and now she’s wrapping it up with a crowdsourcing project called ‘Dear Mainstream Media’ which has had scores of entries.

Yes, an 18 year old who’s already created her own (albeit temporary) magazine, and built an impressive following. It caught the eye of Paul Bradshaw’s Online Journalism Blog this month too.

Oh, and she has her own website, facebook and twitter profile too. How’s yours coming along?

Rebecca Younge

Rebecca Younge is 14 and from Ealing in West London. As part of a school science project she made a three-minute film about pollution and recycling, which she shot on a FlipCam and edited on iMovie on her dad’s laptop. She put it on Youtube and it caught the eye of Video Journalism pioneer Michael Rosenblum, who admits it’s raggedy, but says

She’s never had a day of formal filming or editing tuition, she just worked it out for herself….There is a whole generation coming up who have no fear of video. In fact, they think of it as second nature.

You might think you’re going to do multimedia one day. You might get that it’s the future. But have you picked up your camera and filmed much yet? Is it as second nature to you as it is to Rebecca?

Rahayu

Rahayu is (I think) 20, and from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I’m not sure who she is, or what she does, because she doesn’t write much about herself. But what she does do is run a Tumblr Blog called On a High Note. Now, this is nothing to do with journalism, I’m going to be honest with you. In fact, it’s just a collection of quirky photographs, retro truisms and quotes which she collects and shares. But: she’s built up a community of nearly 90,000 followers all addicted to her way of seeing the world. 20,000 of them are in the US alone. Each photo she posts gets retweeted and reblogged more than 500 times.

And I won’t lie to you – it’s one of my own favourite things in my Google Reader every day. A perfect, inspirational break from the usual stuff.

Image: Wikipedia

Alex Day

Alex Day is 21 and from Essex in the UK. As a teenager in 2006 he started video blogging on Youtube. He used the internet to launch several bands and has just started fronting a major Channel 4 campaign called Battlefront about young people changing the world.  His youtube channel Nerimon has got 202,000 subscribers and has had more than 3,000,000 views.

So, we have two people who are shooting and editing video on their own without batting an eyelid, one person who has run their own online magazine, and one who has created a community of nearly 100,ooo people from all over the world.

None of them are over 21. But they’re already digital natives. This is all second nature to them. As soon as they hit the big wide world they’re going to take this and make some serious money out of it. And if we’re not careful, they’ll leave the rest of us chewing their dust.

So here’s the rub

The future of journalism is amazing, exciting and out there to be had right now. But you’ve got to go out there and get it yourself. There’s no guidebook on how to do this, there is no step-by-step guide. There’s no-one to take you by the hand and guarantee your idea will make money one day.

Thing is, there are plenty of people out there willing to sit back and be consumers in this world, instead of creators. There’s no shortage of people like that. And so there’s no value in them.

People who are willing to take the lead, to beat a path for others to follow, to make mistakes…now they’re scarce. And as we all know, where there’s scarcity, there’s value.


Yes, even the old guard get it now!

Posted in Journalism, Next Generation Journalist by Adam Westbrook on July 20, 2010

The exciting potential of the future of journalism is spreading. And gathering fans where you’d least expect it. In the last week two of the biggest and most established names in British journalism have come out and spoken like a true Next Generation Journalist.

Marr gets it

On Wednesday, Andrew Marr posted a superb piece on the BBC News Website called ‘The End of the News Romantics‘.

I’ll spare you the context bits and brief debate about paying for news (you can read it all here) but Marr ends on, amazingly, an optimistic point:

The kit now being sold is truly liberating. Just a few years ago, I was shaking my head and saying I thought I’d had the best of times for journalism, and wouldn’t want my children to join the trade. No longer. I’d like to be 20 and starting out again right now. Only – not the piercings.

Yes, Marr gets it! (One person on Facebook wondered whether he’s read my book; I doubt it, but Andrew if you’re interested here’s the website)

Snow gets it

Then, just last night, another stalwart, none other than Mr Jon Snow spoke equally optimistically at London’s Frontline Club. Video Journalist Deborah Bonello was there and has a great round up on The Video Report, but crucially Jon says:

It’s all out there to be grasped, and we will do it. We’ve got to keep our nerve, we’ve got to keep it all together, we’ve got to keep on producing more young talent, more young people out in Mexico scrambling on their one camera, VJs and the rest of it,  and we can make it. We’ll get the tightrope across, we’ll start making money together, we’ll make music together, we’ll make the world a better place.

Yes, Snow gets it! Deborah Bonello reports his optimism and excitement was ‘contagious’.

So that’s two of the most established and traditionalist of British journalists getting excited about the potential we are sitting on right now.

Are you as excited? Do you get it? Or do you still feel paralysed?


Are you waiting for approval?

Posted in Journalism, Next Generation Journalist by Adam Westbrook on June 28, 2010

Image credit: SleepyNeko on Flickr

A very insightful post from Deborah Bonello at VideoReporter.com today which poses a really important question any next generation journalist should ask themselves.

Comparing the life of an artist with that of a journalist, she makes a salient point about approval – and how it seems we’re all only as good as the establishment say we are.

The seal of approval

Widely speaking, as an artist, you’re as good as the gallery who puts on your show or the client who buys and gushes about your work. Otherwise, you’re an unknown, and your talent is questionable as it has yet to be given the mark of approval of a major art gallery or culture brand. There are of course exceptions to this, but bear with me.

As journalists, we all want to have been published by major media brands that are respected globally, whether as staffers or as freelance contributors. It is the BBC, and major newspapers and broadcasters who give us, as journalists, that stamp that says we have talent, that we’re good, that we can be trusted and should be listened to as reporters and storytellers. In fact, it isn’t until some have that seal of approval that they have the confidence to go off and start freelance careers.

And that’s an interesting point isn’t it? For as much as independent journalists talk about ‘doing something different’ many still crave that job in a big newsroom. They still need that ‘seal of approval’.

Why is that? Why do we need an editor at the BBC to tell us we’re any good? Why does our name have to be a byline in the Boston Globe or LA Times before we’re deemed ‘good enough’? What makes them so important? One thing’s for sure: if they do give your work the ‘seal of approval’ by publishing it, they won’t pay much for it these days.

Who is stopping you?

But as Deborah points out, things are changing: ‘The internet offers you the opportunity to build your very own journalism brand, around yourself’ she says. Right on.

You can create and publish journalism that doesn’t need a seal of approval from a mid-ranking editor and build a formidable reputation around your own skills – around a shit hot news product which provides good content to a target audience who needs it. Seems tough? It is – your content will need to be great (which is why I’m not worried about standards). You’re up to that right?

I really think if  more journalists were willing to work to please themselves and not a distant editor, we would get somewhere. If more didn’t view their talent as questionable but as extraordinary and unique.

Deborah didn’t wait to be deemed worthy by a London newspaper before flying to Mexico and starting MexicoReporter.com – she did it anyway, and became, almost single-handedly, an important media player in the region. The mainstream media then came to her.

So next time you’re on the verge of doing something epic, something exciting – but you think you can’t or shouldn’t do, remember a bit of the great Ayn Rand: the question isn’t ‘who is going to let me?’.

It’s ‘who is going to stop me?’

Next Generation Journalist: what you’ve been saying

Posted in Adam, Next Generation Journalist by Adam Westbrook on June 21, 2010

My ebook Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism has been on the digital book shelves for about a month now, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response.

There have been lots of lovely reviews from some of the biggest journalism bloggers, including Jon Slattery, Video Journalist, Solo VJ, Innovative Interactivity and Journalism.co.uk.

The best responses though have come from the readers themselves – to everyone who has got in touch to tell me what you think, thank you! The ebook is still available, via PayPal, Google Checkout & Lulu – just head this way.

From the inbox…

Thanks so much for 01 under “Five Things you should know.” I’ve been living the artisan life for the fast few years mostly out of necessity. I had to have several clients just to make my cash flow. And I’ve been doing lots of different things, so many I can’t give a single answer the question “What do you do?” Thanks for validating my experiences.

Afi-Odelia

I’ve been reading this book and your other e-book and I find that both are very inspiring. While I continue to look for full-time work, I’ve decided to go into freelance multimedia journalism which is why I find your books motivating and useful.

Joyce, UK

Loving the book by the way, I’ve been thinking of doing a few things for a while now and your book has just given me the ‘nudge’ I needed…  You’ve confirmed many things that I have been thinking about but previously questioned my own thoughts, not any more!!

Nik, NT Media

Thank you very much for your help. I successfully downloaded the book and it looks terrific!

Dennis, United States

From the Twittersphere…

Next Generation Journalist is worth every penny. encourages me to branch oput from traditional journo career

@prime_sarmiento

decided to ditch the web design stuff – not really for me. getting some great ideas for next move from @adamwestbrook‘s new ebook!

@zekesmith

Have you bought @adamwestbrook‘s entrepreneurial how-to ebook “Next Generation Journalists” yet? I highly recommend it!

@karicollins

Just bought @AdamWestbrook‘s book on Next Generation Journalism. Recommended.

@AndrewStuart

@AdamWestbrook bought your book… and it is great for ideas. Starting an alumni website providing best of University of York’s journalism.

@ScottyGB

@AdamWestbrook I like that. The top points are basically what’s killing journalism. Entrepreneurial is the future. I shall be buying a copy.

@Ajhalls1

From the blogs

Adam Westbrook has done it again. His first e-book, titled 6×6 Series was a great read for journalists wishing to learn what new skills they’ll need to face the challenges of a changing media landscape. Now Adam has added another e-book, Next Generation Journalist – 10 new ways to make money in journalism, and I am loving it.

Videojournalist.ca

As a budding entrepreneur myself, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this thought-provoking and highly optimistic ideas. In 68 pages, he moves seamlessly from one idea to the next, describing how you can make each work for your personally and what small steps can be taken immediately.

Tracy Boyer, Innovative Interactivity,

Guess what distinguishes each of Westbrook’s strategies for landing a gig? The recognition of the fact that there are scarcely any gigs left to pursue — and that you have to find and make your own opportunities.

Ken Kobre, KobreChannel

Filled with concise, to the point information on new trails to travel depending on the style of journalism you are working in, a rather unconventional approach compared to what’s being taught in journalism schools today.

As a solo video journalist, I realized to stay competitive, I had to find new avenues to pursue in order to keep myself earning an income.

Cliff Etzel, American Video Journalist

Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism is available to download now.

Video Journalism: are two heads better than one?

Posted in Freelance, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on June 8, 2010

Video Journalism has become intrinsically connected with terms like Solo VJ, One Man Band and Backpack Journalist. A video journalist, as we understand, works alone, exploiting the benefits of being light on the feet: a small, nimble unit.

With more photojournalists experimenting with video, this idea of the VJ as a solo-worker is being accentuated.

But what if this isn’t the best way?

A cinematographer friend of mine got me thinking about this last week. We were talking about the merits of the new range of small digital SLRs, shooting HD video – the Canon 5D, 550D and Nikon D5000.

“My only worry” he said, “is you become more preoccupied with the video and not the journalism. When you look back on your day do you say: ‘I’ve spent most of my time thinking about the journalism’, or ‘have I spent most of it thinking about depth-of-field?'”

Now don’t get me wrong, I usually prefer solo working, and I have long been a proponent of the solo video journalist being far more efficient, fast and value-for-money than larger crews. I don’t think the journalism suffers necessarily with a One Man Band (well, it depends on the journalist of course); but…could it be better if there are two people on a story?

Lois & Clark

Let’s imagine for a second a Lane/Kent type scenario. Instead of working alone finding, researching, treating, shooting and editing stories, the solo video journalist finds a talented partner.

Perhaps a print journalist with some but not much experience in video, they are good at the researching, the phone bashing, the setting up and asking the tough questions. That leaves the video journalist to focus on the shooting & editing and together they work to craft an engaging visual narrative.

This is how some newspapers already work with video – pairing a reporter with a video producer, and papers like the New York Times and the Guardian have produced some of their best results this way. What if independent freelance video journalists teamed up on a regular basis to work like this?

Two heads of course reduce the chances of mistakes, factual errors and clouded judgement.

But it’s all about the pairing. As a veteran of long backpacking tours gone horribly sour when two ill matched travelers inevitably fall out, it often isn’t pretty. The pairs would need similar interests, similar backgrounds maybe, and similar ambitions. They would both need the determination and the resolve to carry on through the hard times.

The duo could go beyond and market themselves together as a brand – you work with one, you get the other.

I’ve talked a lot this year about collaboration, and I have the privilege of working with quite a few talented producers, reporters and presenters already. The idea of a talented pair of multimedia journalists seems to me to be very tempting; what you do you think?

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