Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Journos, Innovators, Disruptors: Digital First Media Wants You

I got something I'd like to say to all the budding journos, problem solvers, innovators and wild-eyed disruptors who can't sleep at night out there. Why aren't you working for Digital First Media?

(Tip: They're hiring.)

(Disclosure: They hired me. I've been an employee of Journal Register Company for 5 years.)

I could riff all day over the differences between the Journal Register Company that hired me in 2007 and the Journal Register Company I work for today. But the key difference between then and now is the difference between starving and hungry. And it's the reason I've stayed with this company.

This is a company hungry to engage communities and involve readers more than ever before. Hungry to dismantle greed, ignorance and corruption. Hungry to give journalism a viable business model and to re-install it as a desirable career path. Hungry to hang the lanterns that light up journalism's future. I don't know about you, but that's something I want to be part of.

How hungry is Digital First Media? Let me count the ways.

For starters, Digital First Media is 'Digital First.'
When a newspaper company goes 'digital first' - it's not about the internet or newspapers. It's not about social media or mobile devices. It's not even about the preservation of journalism. It's about furthering the possibility of what journalism and local communities can accomplish together. That's why Journal Register Company and Media News Group united underneath the banner of Digital First Media - to lead the charge in upgrading journalism as a team. That's more than 800 million multi-platform products reaching more than 57 million people in the U.S. Think about that. That's a staggeringly large network of skills, experience and opportunity in media and local journalism. The career opportunities are boundless -- if you're hungry.

Speaking of Career Opportunities - We're Hiring
Digital First Media is advertising open positions around the country and is looking for more skill sets and ideas than ever before in the industry's history. In JRC Connecticut, we've been re-investing in breaking news, investigative reporting, community engagement and disruption (that's me). We are advertising for multiple reporter positions right now, but like the headline above says -- innovators and problem solvers are wanted. So even if you aren't interested in the positions advertised, that doesn't mean we don't have a need for your skills and innovation. Get in touch with us -- if you're hungry.

Attracting Industry Leaders, Teachers and Visionaries
John Paton. Jeff Jarvis. Jay Rosen. Emily Bell. Jim Brady. Dave Butler. Arturo Duran. Steve Buttry. Mandy Jenkins. Matt DeRienzo. Randy Keith. Greg Moore. Dan Petty. Ivan Lajara. Martin G. Reynolds. And counting. These are leaders you want to learn from and work with if you're interested in the future of  journalism and digital media right now. In this company, you can.

Investing In Digital Skills and Career Development
Steve Buttry leads a workshop. (pic via: The Buttry Diary)
[Insert some cliche phrase about teaching old dogs new tricks here.] Overwhelmed by all the social media networks and mobile journalism tools out there? Not the best with time and project management? Skill and career development is the other side of Digital First's 'innovation' coin, and it's one they've investing a lot of time, effort and money in. In Connecticut, we've gone so far as to establish a Digital Ninja School where we free up all editorial staff to develop core digital skills of their choosing on company time - and they pocket monetary bonuses for demonstrating skill mastery. Think of it as a digital journalism grad program that comes free with employment.

Rewarding Good Ideas and Innovation
The Digital First Media Idea Lab is a handpicked team of the company's hungriest innovators and problem solvers from around the company who are given company time, money and tools to experiment with and propose new ideas, platforms and methods. While Idea Lab members are afforded these extra benefits, the mindset of experimentation, collaboration and innovation is evident throughout the whole company, in every newsroom. Follow the #DFM #JRC #MNG and #DigitalFirst hashtags on Twitter to get a little whiff of it. Or jump in on our weekly #DFMChat, led by Ivan Lajara. Digital First Media's investment in an Idea Lab shows that hunger and brilliant ideas are rewarded.

Collaborating With Innovative Companies, Start-Ups and Bloggers
Digital First Media isn't just looking to hire the digital innovators and disruptors out there. Collaboration and partnerships are just as crucial to journalism 2.0. SeeClickFix, Syndicaster and Critical Media. The Guardian U.S. TheStreet. Community bloggers. These are just a few of the companies, organizations, individuals and start ups that have partnered with Digital First Media newsrooms to upgrade community journalism to something greater. And that's just the beginning.

What? That's Not Enough?
Did I mention Digital First Ventures? What about the recently announced Open Newsroom projects? And Project Thunderdome? How about the Citizen's Agenda project to re-invent election coverage so that it's focused more on informing voters with citizen-chosen issues, instead of name-bashing and the 'horse race' of political endorsements.

The bottom line - Digital First Media isn't one big idea, or a few little ones to save newspapers, upgrade journalism, or anything like that. It's what happens when communities, ideas and journalists decide to work together to build something greater. Do you got big ideas? This is a good place to start. (and this is a better place if you're interested in working with us in Connecticut)

What do you think? Is this just a buncha atomic-flavored Kool-Aid or is Digital First the real deal?

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