Because I’ve just launched WriteThru.com, which offers free webinars to media professionals seeking to enhance their technology skills, I’m going to cross-post my “explainer” here on DadTalk. Please feel free to spread the word about WriteThru … I can use the help!
I LEFT THE LOS ANGELES TIMES knowing an economic storm was coming, but I had no idea just how hard the media world would be hit. I figured there would be layoffs at newspapers beyond those of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but then mistakenly hoped that the market would stabilize.
Today, I find it heartbreaking to see so many hard-working colleagues and friends suddenly wondering how to pick up the pieces of their damaged careers. PaperCuts counts nearly 16,000 newspaper jobs lost in the United States in 2008 alone and nearly 9,000 more so far this year. And by all accounts, TV, radio and magazine employees all have been equally pummeled.
But I do not believe that professional journalism will die. Hints of what might emerge are seeping through. Think ProPublica. Think VoiceofSanDiego. Consider the possibilities of electronic ink/paper. I don’t know exactly what form this golden era of journalism will materialize, but I do know that many of the journalists who are losing their jobs today will help launch this renaissance.
So how do we get from here to there? Debate. Discussion. Learning. Innovation. But most importantly: Getting over our fears and doubts. The fear of technology; the fear of being unemployed; the fear of no longer having a megalithic nanny company taking care of us. (The fear of building this website and then no one showing up.)
WriteThru’s first mission is simple: offer affordable, if not free, educational webinars on how to use all these new-fangled publishing tools. I’ve chosen the webinar format because it’s affordable, easy to use and interactive. (And I already know how to use the software.)
Success will be measured by those who go out there and create a weblog or create a hyper local news site. After all, any journalist can launch a blog or website in just an hour at no or little cost with ZERO technical abilities. You don’t need to know HTML. Seriously, I don’t.
The tools out there are so amazing, so powerful that anyone who can fill out a questionnaire can create a news portal in just a few days.
For now, WriteThru will function as a free service while soliciting donations. I highly encourage you to sign up for one or more of the free webinars listed here. I’m not trying to sell you something, and I won’t sell your contact information. I will maintain a contact database so I can inform you of future courses, but you can opt out at any time.
As I said, my goal is to take part in the future of journalism in some meaningful way, and this is my way of pitching in to help.