Where’s the passion?

Rafat Ali surveys the landscape at the Online News Association’s (ONA) annual conference and finds a few things missing.

Above all, where’s the entrepreneurship? The Web 2.0 thing, while may have been over hyped, at least has something at the core of it: innovation, on the cheap, and available to all. These are people who believe, and believe me, that’s half the battle won. Why is that mentality not coming to journalism, and specifically online journalism? Why isn’t more startup culture being encouraged at media companies? Yes, they’ll start blogs on their site, but beyond that, what? Why aren’t journalists being encouraged to be entrepreneurs, and the other way around? When will we have our version of the young-out-of-school-entrepreneurs amongst us?
Isn’t the passion of creation the most basic of drivers? Where is that?
Rafat, these are people who, in many cases, only partially believe. Before I continue, let me say that I have the greatest respect for anybody who’s trying to figure all this stuff out, and that includes the ONA. However, I’ve had a few “exchanges” with this group that have left me confused and wondering, because as much as the organization “gets it,” there are members with loud voices who view online news through offline glasses. These are the folks who feel most threatened by the democratization of media and make the most noise about standards and ethics, questioning whether anyone who observes and reports can rightly call themselves a journalist. These are the folks who will not let go of the elitism inherent in the old media model, whose online distribution is simply another mass media system. These are the folks who harp and complain about the reach of A‑listers and demand credentials before permitting a seat at the table.

Unlike you, Rafat, I don’t think they view this as “the most exciting time to be an online journalist, at the most exciting time in the media sphere.” I think they’re scared shitless of anything they can’t command and control and profoundly confused by what they view as chaos.

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