Go rogue

I had the honour of speaking at an event about constructive journalism organised by the Brussels Center for Journalism Studies. The other speakers – both professors – brought some awesome research about what constructive journalism is and how it may benefit public debate in our society.

But I learned even more from the conversations with students afterwards.

The ones I talked to were on the lookout for internships and confronted with the disconnect between journalistic principles thought at school and the everyday practice of being a journalist at most media outlets.

It’s hard to follow the rules of constructive journalism when your quota is 5 pieces a day.

I see three ways of dealing with this issue: (1) suck it up and enjoy the pay check, (2) try to change those practices from the inside – trojan horse style or (3) go rogue.

There’s nothing wrong with (1) or (2), but I’d recommend to go rogue. Just because there hasn’t been a better time to actually make it work. Plus it’s fun.

To be your own media company, you need a platform, content and distribution. Technology has made it possible to have your own platform – including payment & membership tools – up and running in a day. Hell, your platform will probably be more advanced than most legacy media companies.

Distribution on the internet is essentially free, so the only thing that’s left is damn good content. And that’s all on you. There’s no shortcut or hack in creating damn good content. It’s hard work. The more hours you put in, the better the result. And that’s your edge.

You’ll probably fail. But instead of sending in a resume to apply for a job, you’ll be able to send in a link to your own ‘media company’. Don’t let anyone else decide if you’re a journalist or not. Do the work. Be a journalist.

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