About Me

  • I'm CEO of Newspeg.com, a social news-sharing platform. I've spent 20 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies. You can read more about me here.

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January 21, 2010



Most newspaper companies have spent much of the past two years chasing away the smart online people as fast as they can. Former printies coming to believe they no longer need online experts around.


I'm sorry, I really don't mean to rain on this parade. I like John Temple, I'm from Colorado and I liked his analysis of what the Rocky did with his website over the years - but what on earth is innovative about http://www.NewWest.net/?

The site looks like a typical aggregation site from 1999.

When I think of news innovation now, I think of technology- websites geared towards generating collective knowledge. The innovators are Jimmy Wales and Biz Stone. I want to like 'Peer News' but I just don't see how it's any different than a slightly more web geared version of the status quo. If I'm wrong, please tell me.

Mark Potts

Wales and Stone are certainly innovators, though not in the world of journalism. Given that Peer News doesn't exist yet, I'm not sure how you can offer your evaluation of it as "a slightly more web geared version of the status quo." I think John Temple's writings over the past years about his lessons learned at the Rocky—not to mention Pierre Omidyar's involvement—will make Peer News quite interesting. As for NewWest, it's been a pioneer in community-generated content, non-traditional local and regional coverage, innovative revenue streams, and, yes, aggregation.



I would absolutely disagree that Wales and Stone are not innovators in journalism. How couldn't they be? As you mentioned with New West, part of its innovation was in absorbing community-generated content. Twitter alone has absorbed over 8 billion tweets (community-generated content) more than earth's population. http://bit.ly/6Hkmfk Read more on my thoughts about this here: http://bit.ly/3BZAJN

As I mentioned I do like John's blog. My impression of Peer News has come from who they are looking to hire. The focus now should be on organizing community-generated content and making innovations in that field- this requires an entirely different level of experience.

Dave Chase

Congratulations to Jonathan (and John & Jim who I don't know personally)! NewWest's lists of journalistic accomplishments are numerous but these days perhaps the biggest is that he and his team built a high quality journalism product (it won the award for the top news site by the Online News Association) that has become economically sustainable in a very difficult time. The list is very short of sites who have done that especially with a significant sized team.

After becoming a loyal reader of NewWest, my hyperlocal site (SunValleyOnline) became partners with NewWest via a content sharing relationship. Among the areas that were innovative at the time is how they created a "pro-am" model of journalism that is becoming the norm and I think Jonathan coined that term. They also have been innovative in their blend of online and events/conferences that tapped new revenue streams and audiences. Jonathan brought a caliber of conference to the Rockies that is rarely seen.

Another innovation that is now common place is how they have incorporated their flickr group into NewWest. Check out NewWest's flickr pool and you'll see world class photography from the region. This may seem ho-hum today but it was cutting edge when they did it to begin with and I am sure they will continue to break new ground.

Innovation that will affect our space will come from many corners whether journalistically, revenue focused or technology focused (e.g., Twitter et al). Hats off to all the innovators! It's desperately needed.

Andy Smith

I'm very interested by your last paragraph, where you note that newspapers have been very slow to hire visionaries, and instead opt for re-treads. What's interesting is that I think this statement can also be applied to mainstream news websites. Instead of hiring bloggers or new media savvy types, websites seem to be bringing on board print cast-offs who are simply doing what they did in newspapers, except online. I used to work in sports communications and found it interesting that the most popular internet sportswriters (Bill Simmons, the Yahoo! Sports crew) didn't have a traditional print background. Instead, they cut their teeth online and had an awareness of how to better harness the power of the genre. Yet, the majority of sportswriters hired by the internet sports arm of media companies were print cast-offs. Once writing online, these authors did exactly what they'd always done, except now they were posting their work instead of filing it. Amazing how an industry that continues to hemorrhage money is so scared to try new things.

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