Over the weekend, I posted a simple web page on our TypePad site called the TypePad Journalist Bailout Program
. I wrote it up with a lighthearted, snarky tone so a few old friends who recently lost their jobs as professional bloggers/journalists would understand what we could do at Six Apart to try to help them out. It seems like the program struck a nerve with thousands more of you, though — those first few friends have passed the link along, and in less than a day, hundreds of journalists have already signed up to participate.
In short, the program as described offers up a TypePad
blog, a place in our Six Apart Media
advertising program, promotion on Blogs.com
, and a healthy dose of our expertise and insights into helping publishers and bloggers succeed online.
Reports From The Field
The Journalist Bailout program exists because we care about the future of journalism at Six Apart. I've worked at a newspaper, our CEO
was founder of a magazine, and our staff across the company and around the world have worked in reporting, publishing, designing, maintaining and supporting journalism in print, in broadcast, and of course on the web in a variety of capacities. For years, I've followed pioneers like Jeff Jarvis
and Jay Rosen
who've being loud, sometimes strident, voices articulating a vision of how journalism will evolve. I've talked to working journalists in person at events put on by groups ranging from the Online News Association
. And perhaps most importantly I've talked to our customers who are succeeding in online journalism, at outlets ranging from the Huffington Post to the Washington Post, from small-town dailies to alt-weeklies to upstart blog networks to niche magazine publishers who are just making their first steps online.
These experiences showed me something I'd expected: A lot of people are thinking about how journalism is going to evolve online, and many people are passionate about making sure journalists make the leap.
What I hadn't fully expected was how gripping the stories from individual journalists have been. The mood of the emails we've gotten has ranged from hopeful to heartbreaking, from cynical to sincere. Overall, there's an optimism which indicates that having a starting point to do something proactive and positive will be a great first step for many journalists to take control of their careers in an industry that is going through enormous upheaval.
I know that journalists are a skeptical bunch, so I'm not trying to bullshit anyone: The TypePad Journalist Bailout Program is not a silver bullet. It's not going to singlehandedly preserve the career and income of every working journalist who has a job today. And frankly, the response has been so overwhelming that we won't be able to accept every application at first.
But what we can do is give journalists the tools to take control of their own presence online. This program will let a lot of the most eager writers and reporters learn the ropes about how to be more effective and successful on the web. That hope shows through in just some of the responses we've seen already:
- "Thanks for coming up with such a smart solution to the journalist's dilemma! Hope we can work something out."
- "You have no idea how many questions this answers for me that I never even quite understood how to pose."
- "Dear Six Apart, thanks very much for your kind offer, glad you are getting such a great response. I've been thinking about starting my own blog, and this seems like a good and fun way to do it."
The Road Forward
Our first order of business is to tend to the dozens of people who have already submitted applications. It will take a few days to get personal replies to everyone who wants to participate, and our criteria of evaluation for membership in the program will have to expand a bit to accommodate everyone who's applied.
In the future, we want to reach out to the many media organizations we already work with to find ways to make this new wave of independent journalism sites more successful and more effective. We know that a vast amount of the good journalism being done today is happening within traditional media institutions, and we think there are plenty of ways for both media companies and independent journalists to support and complement each other's work.
Finally, we'll be asking the entire community for help in defining how these sites will grow, evolve and thrive in the future. So, if you haven't done so already, read up on the TypePad Journalist Bailout Program
, see if it's right for you, and if it seems like we can provide the tools to help you move your journalism career forward, then sign up to join us.