I took part in the second JEEcamp in Birmingham yesterday. Last year, it was very much an experiment to see what might happen if you stuck 50 journalists in a room and let them unconference for a day about how to create a new journalism for the future. I’d been mapping plans for an online journalism venture in my head for a couple of years – JEEcamp was inspiring and I came away enthused and keen to put my plans into action. Unfortunately, a change in my personal circumstances put paid to my ideas.
Twelve months on and the journalism universe looks very different now. A year ago, we were just seeing the start of the recessionary effects on our industry – job cuts, papers closing, freelance budgets being slashed. Since then, literally thousands of jobs have gone and the changes are not over yet. Give it another 12 months and the landscape will look different again. None of us knows what it might look like, but it will be radically different to the traditional model of print media funded by advertising. The online revolution has already meant massive changes in how we work – in the future, online is almost certainly where pretty much everything will be happening, whether it’s the tools we use or the content we publish. Journalists are going to have be enterprising and create their own opportunities to take advantage of irrevocable changes.
The keynote presentation at JEEcamp 2009 came from Kyle Macrae, who gave a really interesting account of his attempt to set up a picture agency (Scoopt.com) trading in citizen journalists’ photos and what happened when it all went horribly wrong after partnering with Getty Images. The Q&A that followed was also enlightening, with lots of questions about venture-capital funding, business models and exit strategies.
I missed most of the breakout sessions, using the time to network instead with some people I wanted to talk to. There were a couple of really good panel discussions, to wrap it all up, about the future of journalism, particularly about paid-for content models (Rupert Murdoch had just annnounced his own thoughts on this), the problems with council-funded newspapers and the kinds of enterprises journalists might want to engage in.
Andy Dickinson, who teaches journalism at UCLAN, was bang on the nail when he said we can’t exist in isolation. For all we network on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, there’s no substitute for getting together face to face to exchange ideas and find new ways of working. Next year’s JEEcamp should be charting progress in that direction.
Me, I have no plans yet to develop a new online enterprise, after abandoning the last one. I’m still settling down after all the upheaval of the last 12 months in my personal life. One thing’s certain, though, I will be starting something online at some point. I just need to figure out what it might be..
Thanks to Paul Bradshaw again for organising such a creative and useful event.