Notes on the creation of a new media landscape

Losing the Me in Multimedia

with 11 comments

There has been a lot of loose talk lately from certain “legacy”—a/k/a old—media outlets about how bloggers and online aggregators are “stealing” their content. Some of it is just eyeball envy, and some seems to be jealousy of a deeper sort—a sense of waning cool, a lack of buzz supply.

Certain virtues just don’t come naturally to people in our line of work, and the greatest of these is charity.

That’s going to have to change. For journalists of all ages, making the transition from old to new media means crossing a theoretically impossible leopard with the improbable old dog, changing spots and learning new tricks. In plain English, we have to learn not just new skills but new virtues as well.

Number one is humility. Without it, as a profession, we will still be shouting from the mountaintop, and there has been quite enough of that. Even more painfully, we have to get over our great big individual selves. I know this from experience: It hurts not being “somebody” anymore.

When I was the editor of Time, I got to interview Castro, Mandela, Rafsanjani—the Dalai Lama! A few weeks ago, the assistant to somebody nobody ever heard of yelled at me for calling back to ask about an interview. She didn’t even bother calling later to say no.

Back in the day, I could order up a story anywhere in the world, just by calling my assistant and saying something like, “Get me Istanbul.” Now, I’m lucky if I have time to call out for a sandwich at lunchtime. There is no assistant, not to mention anyone who would answer to the name “Istanbul”.

When I first got to FLYP the person who started it, Alan Stoga—a very smart guy, but somebody who had never even been a journalist, for god’s sake—told me my sentences were too long. My first thought, of course, was, “Who was HE to be editing ME!” But I looked again, and it was true. Finely wrought doesn’t work online. Plain speaking does. Whoever thought that would be the wave of the future!

As good and resourceful as I think I am, I’ve had to get used to the fact that there is a lot I just don’t know. I don’t know how to shoot video, not to mention how to edit, export or integrate it. I can’t animate an information graphic, or design a simple popup, slider or second-floor.

At FLYP now I’m called the editor-in-chief, but in story meetings, I’m one of a team, which includes an animator-in-chief, a videographer-in-chief, a designer-in-chief, a researcher-in-chief, a programmer/integrator-in-chief and a reporter-in-chief.

The best meeting we have is after we publish, when we all get to play user-in-chief. This purpose of this meeting is to ruthlessly criticize each other (the aforementioned founder-in-chief is especially good at this) for having screwed up the experience of a story for the most important team member of all, the you-in-chief.

And I’ve never enjoyed a job more, nor felt more intimately engaged with the reason I got into journalism in the first place, which was to tell stories.

The second critical virtue is brevity, but I’m out of space. Blogs are supposed to be 500 words max, I’m told, and I’m already over that.

This reminds me of Humility, Subpart A: The thing to be afraid of isn’t failure. It’s regret for failing to try something new.

Jim Gaines
Editor-in-Chief, FLYP


Written by Jim Gaines

August 5, 2009 at 3:04 pm

11 Responses

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  1. I love this discussion about the new ways of working. There’s something to be said for the return to hands-on, in the trenches work (and reporting, designing, etc.). The new media has a passion and a POV that gets lost in the layers and layers of work bureaucracy that exist in the old media. And it’s great to be able to report and respond immediately. I’d love to see more posts on this subject, on the actual nature of work and how it makes you feel. Thanks, this is a smart site.

    Robert Newman

    September 8, 2009 at 9:00 am

  2. […] I recently read two articles one called 10 Elements of Highly Effective Articles and the other was Losing the Me in Multimedia.  I agree with these articles.  If you’re like me you tend to skip over blog entries with […]

  3. […] - - Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Will Snow Leopard really make my computer any faster?Missing the StoryChase Daniel: Two TDs and a Missing Mouthpiece […]

    Blog Response 1 « xinyaoqiu

    September 16, 2009 at 5:36 pm

  4. […] Gaines also mentions humility as a necessary ingredient to producing good, readable content.  It really mirrors how as […]

  5. I agree with Jim Gaines’ article because users shouldn’t have a fear of making a transition to express a story to readers. Blogging is important nowadays. Blogs need to scream for attention, especially if they want to generate enough visitors and comments to their page. When Gaines mention that the number one key is “Humility,” I quickly understand that having to set yourself not to be as important as the next person will make you better in your profession

    With the “10 Elements of Highly Effective Articles” by Nicholas Z. Cardot, I understand what it takes to make a blog to stand out. I have a friend at work that blogs and he get a lot of visitors because of the content that he post on his blog site. Not just he only post clothing and the latest trends, he also lets the readers get to know him and why he into to fashion trends. I always feel that to make a blog successful is to have some type of connecting with the readers. To me it doesn’t matter if the post is long or short, as long there is connecting the blog will be successful.


    September 17, 2009 at 2:15 am

  6. […] the new, the motto that applies to almost anything in this world. A recent article titled “Losing the Me in Multimedia” by Jim Gaines, Editor-in-Chief of FYLP talks about just that. In the article, the author […]

  7. […] the new, the motto that applies to almost anything in this world. A recent article titled “Losing the Me in Multimedia” by Jim Gaines, Editor-in-Chief of FYLP talks about just that. In the article, the author […]

  8. […] reading the article “Losing The Me in Multimedia” written by Jim Gaines. I have to agree that there are differences between print media and […]

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