Whatever happened to....



Longtime readers recall (as noted by my favorite commenters frequently, as recently as today in fact) that I spent some time in 2007 working on a book project called "The News Fix," which was in some ways an outgrowth of a 2006 conference that was held here in Philadelphia about a new kind of news organization called a "norg." The idea was to keep a role for journalists and journalism in 21st Century society, by ditching the traditional orientation toward newsprint first, and by strengthening ties with the local community and with engaged citizens. The book idea was exciting for two reasons -- a) the timing was surely right for a discussion about saving journalism as opposed to cataloguing what's wrong with it, which seems pretty well known at this point and b) the whole approach to publishing and marketing the book itself was a fairly experimental thing, working directly with progressive bloggers through an outfit they had launched called Vaster Books.

The word "experimental" connotes newness, excitement -- and the possibility of failure. The idea of bloggers publishing and using their social networks to market and sell books is a great concept -- but at this stage of 2008, it is still a concept, unproven. I hope it works some day, if not for Vaster then for someone else. So to make a long story short, "The News Fix" won't be published by Vaster. Obviously, I've known that for a while -- OK, a long while -- but I held off saying anything here on the blog until a had a better idea what would happen next, and now there is good news on a couple of fronts.

Although I wouldn't rule out parts or even much of "The News Fix" appearing in book form at some future date, I also looked into the idea of sub-dividing parts of it into magazine articles as well, and that plan is bearing fruit. This summer, American Journalism Review will be publishing my article on the gap between journalists and the communities that we cover, one of the original themes of the book. I'm looking forward to linking to the online version when it's published. In the short run, though, publishing any more from "The News Fix" is on hold -- because of a very exciting new project that I'm working on.

It's funny, but one of the things I really learned in working on "The News Fix" -- Dan Gillmor, a former Silicon Valley tech writer who is now a guru of journalism reform and I had a long chat about this -- is that failure, and a willingness to accept the risk of failure and actual failure itself, is critical on the path to success. The discussion was about newspapers, but ironically, "The News Fix" itself, at least in its original form, ended up a failed experiment -- but in chasing it I not only learned a lot but I also greatly expanded my world of friends and contacts. Now, that in and of itself would have been a good thing, but in this case it led me to this new adventure.

Which I'll be telling you about later this week.