Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

10 ways to make waves in journalism & publishing

Posted in Entrepreneurial Journalism by Adam Westbrook on May 14, 2012

Our industry needs innovators, boat rockers, leaders, starters.

If you want to make your mark, get noticed, here are some ideas. These are things you can do as a journalism student, recent graduate, employee – whatever. They’re necessarily big (what’s the point in making small waves?) but manageable if you start small, take baby steps and gain momentum in your spare time.

  • Create a product (that’s a website, magazine, app, film, podcast, experience or book) that challenges how journalism is done right now.
  • Deploy new technology on journalism before anyone else does. Think of Not On the Wires‘ clever use of mobile reporting in 2009, and more recently Codoc’s ideas for layered video journalism.
  • Create a product that strives to do journalism better than the mainstream media (it’s not difficult).
  • Create an in-depth multimedia production that goes deeper into a story or issue than anyone has before. There are plenty of examples, from Powering a Nation, to The Ration.
  • Write a blog that challenges the status quo. Duckrabbit do this really well and everyone loves them for it.
  • Go in-depth into an under-reported community and create a site about them. MA students at City University in London have been doing this with good results.
  • Design products that savour in-depth quality over 400 word posts. This space is wide open right now, but it’s time consuming and hard to do. I’m really looking forward to Kirby Ferguson’s next project This is Not a Conspiracy Theory, but he’s spending months putting it together.
  • Find a gap in the market and go all out to fill it. Think of how Jamal Edwards has become well known in a whole music genre by pushing SB.TV or even how Poppy Dinsey saw a space in social fashion.
  • Be an experimenter and a ‘media inventor’ who’s always creating new things. Robin Sloan is one of my favourite people on the whole internet. Have you read his tap essay? You should.
  • Create something that looks fantastic and ignores the design conventions of the web.
  • Pick a niche and knuckle-down to become an expert in the space. This doesn’t mean getting qualifications, it means being generous with what you know.

Whatever you do, aim big and take no shortcuts.

The industry already has more reporters, subs, producers, editors and designers than it needs, and you’re up against thousands of others to become one of them. What the industry sorely lacks are people who come up with big boat-rocking ideas and execute on them.

Be one of those people and your career could take you to remarkable places. But you’ve got to make waves first.

Speaking of boat-rocking ideas, Inside the Story has already raised more than $2500 for charity and helped hundreds of people get better at storytelling. Have you got your copy yet? It’s only available for another 12 days.


8 Responses

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  1. […] 10 ways to make waves in journalism & publishing […]

  2. tammydavid said, on May 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Reblogged this on Viva La Tam.

  3. manoushz said, on May 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Hi Adam,
    Love this post. As an ex-BBC person I’m trying to do just that by creating a multimedia ebook that helps people be better on camera. By using the new Vook platform and Kickstarter plus some very high quality (and funny!) videos I hope Camera Ready will a game changer on air and online. Thanks for the great blog and inspiration.
    Brooklyn, NY

  4. sistertrudie4 said, on May 16, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Reblogged this on Sistertrudie4's Blog and commented:
    I went to your store I only speak English what happen.. they.are cute…love them…

  5. […] We often think courage involves being fearless in our pursuit of something. Courage is nothing of the sort. Courage is feeling shit-scared, but acting anyway. I can’t stress how important this is. The only people who genuinely don’t feel fear have a pathological condition. The rest of us get on with our work despite how scared we are. You need to do this too if you’re going to start any project that makes waves. […]

  6. Debt Management said, on May 22, 2012 at 3:18 am

    im a journalism graduate and everything you have said in this article are true. I believe Journalism is being exploited in an abusive and non sense manner. this a great article by the way…

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