Stop what you’re doing and listen.
Do you hear it?
That quiet noise in the background?
It’s almost imperceptible, but it’s there. That little buzz.
It’s the sound of innovation.
Everywhere I turn these days, I’m running into writers quietly working on projects. In their home offices. At the coffee shop with their laptops. In the group that’s huddled at the back of the regional journalism conference.
If I had to pick an indicator of whether or not the media business is bouncing back, this would be it. I’m not talking about newspapers and magazines going back to their glory days. That’s not going to happen. But something is happening. My evidence:
- A former wire service colleague is researching a website project for a consumer-oriented organization.
- Another colleague just pitched a blogging-related start up to a tech venture group in her area.
- Here in Portland journalists and ex-journalists are involved in at least two efforts to form non-profit news organizations.
- A similar effort is in the works in Colorado.
- Another Portland journalist is working on a web-based news aggregator.
- A few other Portland journalists are involved in so many different projects I can’t keep track, including one who dropped out of college because he had too many things going on.
- Several writers on a message board I frequent are investigating opportunities to create mobile apps, either with established publishers or on their own.
- Another freelancer I’m familiar with recently tweeted that she had a great idea for a mobile app, if only she could find the money to build it.
Writers are taking fate into their own hands because face, it, those newsroom jobs aren’t coming back any time soon. There’s something about a rough economy that brings the entrepreneur out in people in every field, and writers are no exception.
Because they’ve already figured out how to work for themselves, freelancers may have a leg up on newly displaced journalists when it comes to doing their own thing. Either way, there’s only so much rejection you can take from editors whose freelance budgets have been cut back to nothing before you start figuring out other ways to make a living.
I’m about to embark on a project of my own. It’s a start up of sorts, though it’s not my start up. But it is something new for me. When the time’s right I’ll be able to share more. For now, all I can say is it’s exciting to be doing something new.
What about you – got a project up your sleeve? If you could embark on something new right now, what would it be?