Category Archives: branding

Dream Scenario: Twitter, iPad, & My News Biz Ambitions

Lots to wrap your head around these days if you want to be part of the future of news. Through the hail, I see the same three blinking lights ahead that other lonesome hacks and big-time news execs must see: Twitter, iPad and Pay Walls. Or put another way: Mobile Feed, Lean-Back News and MoneyMoneyMoney.

For months, these little blips of the future have been ricocheting off my would-be world news project, and ricocheting off each other. Time to allow the damn light to shine! to imagine how it might all actually work out for the best. Of course it won’t — never does — and even if the future is brighter, it’s still a moving target. But hashing it out here, with the information we have to work with, will help prepare for the changes to come. Also let’s this poor slug stop for a moment to dream the dream…


I never liked the experience of getting my news from websites and blogs. I LOVE Twitter. My “brother-in-law” said he could see i had become possessed when i used my hands to mimic the upward flow/downward scroll of the feed. Twitter has finally created the right channel to get digital news into the light, vertical format that it was made to inhabit. The gentle passing stream has replaced the bang-you-up chase, run-you-over wave–the constant risk of DROWNING — that was “surfing the web.” Ahhhh. much better now, thank you. Twitter will be the way we consume news when we are mobile, that is to say both literally/physically on the go with our smart phones, and moving through our work day and socializing at our desks. Some media companies, news suppliers seem to think that Twitter is a play area/gossip zone, and put up only or mostly their most glib offerings. They are wrong. This is the future of keeping people truly informed! It has the potential to create something for journalism that is like the radio and daily newspaper melded into one.

Verdict for me/mine: Very good news, especially from the git-go. My project aims to be smart, world news that plugged in people across the globe will want a crack at seeing. Twitter is the obvious and open place where I can go to deliver it..

ps: The recent uptick in talk of Twitter applications, aimed at developers, is also a call out to journalists to develop “news applications” for twitter, including the human kind of application. HuffPost is taking it on before the rest of the pack, and will benefit no matter how it turns out. here’s my first tiny, one-man crack at it.


I come most recently from the world of glossy newsweeklies. My web-only project (more details to come. I promise) was actually born from a weekly product. It is high-end, not mass market. It is journalism, in the classic sense. Seeing various news and magazine demos of iPad apps makes you see that there is a way to get people — and advertisers — to commit to, and pay for, quality content. Long and not-so-long form.  We don’t know if it will be the savior of news business, but it reminds us that we are searching for a way — a platform, device, what have you — to use the best technology and ideas out there that actually help us separate from the above sensation of being mobile: on the go, or at our desks.

Verdict for me/mine

I am tempted to return to my old idea of getting LOTS of funding up front, and quickly build my product around a tablet application. That would, however, probably be VERY stupid. In the meantime…sticking with premise of this post, to dream of glory…I can see my brand on iPad as the future flagship of the whole damn thing, something to work toward…where its true value (in every sense) is realized.


None of the above fantasies can truly come to life if we don’t find ways to get cash for what we produce. Last week we heard on the iPad subscription front, this week on Twitter ads front.And of course, something is tipping us toward a general acceptance that it shouldnt and wont all be FREE. This is of course just a start. But it helps to envision how the ecosystem, and our habits, as both users and consumers, might evolve.

Verdict for me/mine

OK…Here’s my business model/dream scenario, circa Jan. 2012: My product has taken off from a modest start, in large part because my unique professional content stands out in the twitter (and other social media) stream. People love the stories, we’re timely and lively and the brand is catching, the output is growing. A small team of web developers and multimedia producers have just helped launch the iPad application.Some of our most loyal readers have quickly signed up for a yearly 50-week subscription at 70 bucks. Those of them who have already been web subscribers ($35) get the first six months free on iPAD. My content online and on Twitter is metered, but more and more people are just making us one of their dozen or so paid outlets. Oh by the way, I happen to also have a growing syndication business with some of the top US newspapers, who have pay walls of their own and want some exclusive foreign news. Indeed the whole industry has largely bounced back as Twitter and tablets have helped people find their sweet spot for both staying informed in real-time and remembering how to savor old-style serendipity. Satisfied, well-served customers are typically paying customers.

As for me, I am proud of my 15 employees, and am actually turning a healthy profit. Google wants to talk exit strategies. Hey, I even got invited to some seminar at the University of Missouri to schmooze with Jeff Jarvis and David Carr. But I decline! I have no time….If your memory serves you well, I am finally taking a week off all to myself…to go follow Dylan in friggin’ Japan!!!


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Filed under branding, business model, content, entrepreneurship, funding, journalism, new media, paywalls, platforms, social media, Uncategorized

The Bishop of Rome, a Monk in Cupertino & My iPad Prayer for News

I have been consumed…again….still…with Vatican reporting for my MSM outlet. I have much I would like to cover in this space, and some real progress to recount, but alas, you readers are NOT my paying customers. Yet!? I will be brief here, as my juggling act continues…

Of course sharing worldwide headlines with the priest sex abuse crisis has been the launch of the iPad: the Bishop of Rome and the Monk of Cupertino, if I may….So those rare moments that I am not meeting with Church officials and pondering the meaning of Good Friday for both a secular Jewish Vaticanista and the Holy Father himself, some scattered thoughts of what this would-be revolutionary digital device means for my would-be digital world news project. I had already given a first crack at trying to think through what the iPad could change for this old media guy trying to launch himself in new media: business model, presentation of content, as a tool for actually producing the content. Those questions still stand. But my project has evolved, and more folk have gotten their claws (and more) on the iPad…and I’ve got one big clear thought (and mostly hope!?) about not only what the iPad will and won’t bring, but about the future of the news business in general.

Here goes: so we have all listened to and participated in the neverending heeing/hawing about how digital is ruining the news business and our esteemed profession (HACKS!!), with its flattening everything, the decline in quality and controls, the short attention span, the thirst for gossip, the end of reading. This may all be true, and it may get worse. Or it may not. Indeed, though habits will certainly change, we cannot be sure that it will be linear. That is, attention spans have probably been getting shorter for years thanks to everything from the automobile to tv and video games to microwave ovens, and certainly the internet…but that doesn’t mean, it couldn’t somehow reverse itself after some behavioral or technological tipping point has been reached. It is for just this reason that the iPad is the first gadget that appeals to me, an utterly non-gadget kinda dude who nonetheless grew up a tv addict and is now constantly attached to the internet/blackberry. It could give me digital and all that means aesthetically/experientially, and at the same time help me to lean back, take a bit more time….unplug? For this, it could truly be revolutionary for the platform-formerly-known-as-print-media.

I want my digital project to be driven by the written word (and photography). I’d be happy to have video, but don’t want to have to have video, as people who supposedly know tell you before you even open your biz plan or prototype. Part of me would like to go straight to the tablet, as I’d fantasized about here once. But the web is so many things to many people, the net (on the net) must be cast wide. But right here is the point where I wanted to arrive: we don’t know where people’s habits will wind up, both in terms of consuming and in terms of paying… but we do know this singular fact about what the internet means for the business model, and it is not on the revenue side, but the cost side: one day, every/any producer of news and information will have the option of COMPLETELY ELIMINATING the enormous burden of paying for printing and physical delivery. GONE. period. This we know. That is good news…and the iPad, even for those of us yet to touch it, helps us imagine how we will get there.

And so in this moment of great uncertainty, let us pray for the good people of the Catholic Church, and for that turtlenecked monk of Silicon Valley.

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Filed under branding, business model, content, entrepreneurship, journalism, new media, old media, Uncategorized

Straddling Old and New Media, Searching for the Speed of Traffic

I have never been a particularly fast or slow writer. On my good days, I’d like to think of myself as a kind of Honda Accord hack, smoothly getting to my destination at the speed of traffic. I’ve worked for dailies, wires, a newsweekly, its website and even wrote a book (out in Italy) that exactly 17 publishers have shipped back to my hot-shot NY agent. Fools!! My point though: quality and platform notwithstanding, I have never had an editor comment on my velocity either way.

Of course, getting to -30- includes plenty of stops and starts and self-editing…and occasionally a flash of something from nowhere to keep it interesting. I want to try to zip, or plough, through this post, and send it off more quickly than usual… I have a lot on my plate today, but ultimately, I have to get used to writing just a bit faster and looser because that is the speed of traffic in the digital universe.

The topic today in fact is about straddling the old media/new media borderline, even as that line blurs. My heart and head are now both firmly in the new, but I am in no position to kiss the old goodbye. My relative absence in this space over the past couple of weeks is due to the return of the Catholic priest sex abuse crisis in a major way. That has meant a flurry of stories for both the web and print editions of my MSM outlet. My Vatican experience is in fact my most plainly marketable (and durable) quality right now. (Among the first ideas — eventually shelved — when my staff position was on the blocks was to do a papal blog: now, what would you call a Vatican blog by a guy with my name? Not My Church, of course!)

Part of me is always charged up to be back in the scrum, calling sources, shaping stories about a topic that is on the leading edge of the news cycle. That the story I helped report, written by my Time foreign editor Bobby Ghosh, made it onto the cover in the international editions offers the kind of satisfaction that you can’t get from a retweet. And yet…well, right now, for me at least, certain retweets are indeed worth more than cover stories. As I’ve said before, my website project must run on its own fuel…fumes from the past simply will not suffice.

But these last few days, as I emerged from the spate of papal reporting and jumped back in my startup project, I have been thinking a lot about the MSM. The outlet I know best right now would be worth its own case study: for how it has struggled with its corporate structure, for how it has and has not adapted to digital realities, and yes, the effects of its many layoffs; and yet, there is  still no denying its ability to break through the noise, and sometimes even set the agenda. Perhaps most fascinating is the coverage of the information revolution itself. Though almost never on the leading edge, the newsweeklies do help determine what is mainstream, with all the implications that come with that. Think of You as Person of the Year, and Twitter and Saving Newspapers covers. If you’re reading this, you may scoff and slam Time for having reported something months or even years after you knew it to be the case. But it becomes, in some way, even more true when it’s plastered inside that red border. Of course, what remains to be seen is whether the MSM is managing to stay relevant or simply  writing its own obituary…

Either way, though, I know my own destiny will largely be determined by how well I navigate this new, lava-like terrain where things are dying, transforming, rising from the ashes and being born from that filament sizzle of a light bulb going on in someone’s brain. I want the old media to survive and thrive for many reasons: not least of all because it is integral to the new media destination I am trying to create. But even before I get there, I must keep my eyes open for ways to capitalize on my knowledge of and relationships with the MSM to help build something that can only survive off the fat of the online land. And so you can imagine, for example, that more than Time’s cover, it’s the 2.03 million Twitter followers that interest me.

But beyond my own projects/interests, it seems evident that the established media must find ways to allow innovation to seep in to its walls from the energy and ideas of those trying to create something independently. Too often those with the ideas are moving faster than those with the resources and audience. Right now in the news biz, this dual-velocity dynamic risks killing off both ideas and institutions at a dangerously fast pace. Still, I am convinced that sooner or later the speed of traffic will again reveal itself.


Filed under branding, content, entrepreneurship, journalism, new media, old media

Searing Your Brand on Social Media: The Overnight Birth of a Logo

Three weeks ago, almost by accident, I came up with what is the first tiny-but-tangible building block of my would-be world news media EMPIRE(!?) Aaiyaaaa!!

The great challenge and opportunity of the web is that you can actually create new stuff, which you then might just get someone out there in the ether to consume (and one day, buy!?) Rather than having to claw through a corporate list of meetings and measuring, some half-equipped dude can actually get his idea up  and running – and live — virtually on his own. Cool shit.

The adrenaline rush of inventing something brand new is different for a reporter who typically got his rushes responding: to events, to editors, to fill that empty space on the wires/paper/magazine/website that is waiting for your copy. Now, there is another void waiting to be filled, but only YOU are aware that it exists.

To try to capture that sensation, and show how accessible the digital world can be, I thought I’d try to chronicle the blow by blow of why/how/when I upgraded and expanded While U Slept, my aforementioned lil’ project of Overnight News Bundling.

Friday, March 5

4 p.m. On the phone with my Paris-based multimedia ‘rabbi‘ who I lean on for ideas/advice on the project. Brainstorming on how to build traffic for whileUslept. He notes its high time I stop posting only on my own twitter account…and give it a twitter home of its own. As we talk, I notice I’m getting a quick flurry of ”follows” on said personal Twitter account.

4:15 p.m.. This retweet of my day’s post of overnight headlines goes out. That explains the boost in traffic!

4:20-4:50. Feeling a sudden sense of urgency with new readers coming in, I quickly start to set up that Twitter account, scrambling to put up some generic foto and basic info/description.

5:13: After my thank you message, Prof Sreenivasan responds, saying he’ll refer to my little feed product on his Facebook page.

5:15-5:45. Oh hell! Facebook too!! I scramble to set up whileUslept Fan page, with same generic foto/info. (NOTE: keep reading…final links below. don’t wanna give away the ending!?)

Saturday, March 6

Tinker with new pages….see the first Twitter followers, send out  fan page recommendation to FB friends.

Sunday, March 7

whileUslept traffic has tapered off…both because I don’t do a Sunday entry….and because, well…why? Decide it’s time to give the whole damn thing a more professional look and functionality. It’s time, in other words, to call on Annie, who is already busy slaving away in her spare time to complete the prototype for the bigger site. I send an email out to her to see if she’s free for a Skype, though I don’t specify what’s up.

Monday March 8

9:49 AM Annie responds: she’s free this evening for a skype. I decide still not to mention what is up (She probably assumes it’s about prototype), figuring I can explain it directly more clearly…I also figure it will take a few days to get the various whileUslept venues spruced up. (Shower great compliments on myself for uncharacteristic patience…)

11:15  AM After spending previous 16 hours — minus 5 for sleep — trying to figure out why the damn link of my Facebook Fan suggestions wont go through to several friends who’d flagged me… I realize that I had a country restriction. In fact, all 9 of my fans live in friggin’ France! It is confirmed: I am an idiot!

12:29 PM this tweet goes out from a certain star journo-twitter, a former colleague who’d seen whileUslept post on Facebook, Biggest spike to date in traffic begins, heading toward 600 hits, and dozens of new followers/fans…I cringe a bit, knowing the clankity layout of the thing, but I do my best to NOT call Annie, who does have a day job after all! (and 2 kids!!), and gets exactly 0 euros in monthly salary from yours truly.

9-11 PM: No sign of Annie. It will have to wait, I tell myself, but I lay out in a detailed email my wish that we (she!) can come up with a logo/design for whileUslept.

11:54 PM: Email arrives from Annie: Sorry …fell asleep putting (daughter) to bed….starting work now:(

Midnight-4:30 a.m: this could be a post of its own…but to make it brief, Annie and I, fighting with a shaky skype connection and sagging eyelids, go back and forth on concepts/designs/executions of logo. We decide it should be the same colors/font as the prototype she’s doing for the Mother Site. We agree on designs for the different venues where it will appear. (Final touch ups will be made the next morning) HERE ARE THE RESULTS…




Conclusion to whirlwind: Annie is a Danish Rock Star. I am a happy American camper. But traffic is tapering off again!!?? Aaiyaaaa!!


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Filed under branding, Breaking News, business model, content, entrepreneurship, social media, The Big 5 (Top Overnight Stories), Top Headlines, world news

Building an Online Audience (Nearly) from Scratch. Can An Old Media Veteran Bring His Readers With Him?

My world news website is literally still just a project on paper — or more precisely, Powerpoint. From what I’ve learned about all this technology stuff, websites on paper, uh, don’t work so good. The live prototype is still a week or two away, and the beta version wont’ be ready for a bunch of months. At least.  None of this, however, prevents me from starting…that is, trying to build an audience. Or at least a pre-audience.

It’s all part of that evil-but-necessary bit of New Media verbiage: personal branding. The frontiers of the world of journalism are now equal parts barrier-free and mind-spinningly fragmented, where everything is possible and nothing is a sure thing. In the face of this, how YOU get it done becomes ever more important. On some basic level, this has always been the case in journalism, and any profession, really. Do good work, and get recognized for it. What’s different now is that the promoting yourself and producing something for public consumption become one in the same. And so the pro forma act of attaching my byline to my copy transforms into attaching my name to everything I do professionally (and for others, well beyond the professional.)

And so the seeds of the audience is born, even if you’re not sure what your product is, or have not yet figured out how to produce it. Facebook friends, Twitter followers, email lists, etc are the first step. The good news for those of us coming from the world of full-time, branded media is that you are actually not starting from pure scratch. Anytime I tweet something, link something, and generally show up in some digital room with my nametag on, whatever I’m writing or shilling or, like here, thinking aloud, is traceable back to that old fashioned byline and where it’s been residing over the years.

There is no denying that it is a head start if you are looking to create something new. Beyond the actual experience I have acquired from it, the MSM brand is that first small step toward building your personal brand: doors and emails get opened, introductions get made, and maybe even rambling blog posts get read.

Still, this edge has a tiny shelf life. No one – I repeat, not a friggin’ soul – is going to become a customer of the content that I hope to produce/edit on my website because of my work with Time or the AP or whomever. (Likewise, a potential investor who might agree to meet with me, will not be reaching for his checkbook because of what I’ve done in the past) The project quite simply must stand on its own. In fact, for some, the new enterprise must actually overcome the old-school origins of its founder.

In the end, those of us veterans/victims of the crumbling state of MSM have two distinct choices: either see our past as a building block and calling card for the future. Or see the future as simply the thing that is killing some idealized notion of the past. After some real resistance, I have wholeheartedly embraced the former approach. Even with all the uncertainty, that very change in mentality feels like real progress. And some serious fun.

But back to the practical challenge of finding an audience. I wrote last week about my mini project-inside-the-bigger-project, While U Slept, a bundled aggregation of the Big 5 latest headlines/links that I put together here in the European time zone, aimed at early morning readers/bloggers wanting to know what news has actually broken since they logged off and unplugged the night before. I have been vigilant about getting it posted by 1 p.m (7 a.m EST). every day, six days a week. I’m establishing a method for scanning the news sources, making it the most relevant and timely mix it can be. And several colleagues have sent real encouragement. But let me assure you fine readers: it has most definitely NOT caught on like wildfire. My 3!? email subscribers get it first. My 160 Twitter followers get it 60 seconds later, followed by my 307 Facebook friends. And how many click through? What is my most trafficked day? A grand total of 56!? The daily average is at a whopping 23 hits…

I wasn’t so naïve to expect anything different. And I do have a aim high (future post about this concept). Perhaps it could make a good fit in a smart, heavily trafficked home on the web. Andrew Sullivan? Talking Points Memo? Slate? Or some other New Media outlet that still sees the MSM – and The News itself — as relevant, and a good starting point for the day. All suggestions are most welcome! For now, I am continuing to refine the process and story selection and timing. But when the moment comes to try to find the right home — to try to multiply my audience — you can bet that I will present myself with Old Media credentials in hand, and all the oxygen of the New Media in my blood.


Filed under branding, entrepreneurship, journalism, new media, old media, social media, The Big 5 (Top Overnight Stories), Top Headlines, world news

Who’s Your Guru? My Startup, a 3-Hour Skype & the True Life Making of a Myth

The connection flickers, and the black Skype screen finally splits open to reveal a hulking figure standing over his computer in a non-descript kitchen. “Welcome to Speakertext headquarters…” Matt Mireles’ voice has the same light, aw-shucks timbre from his web startup demo, which makes an odd contrast with both the (virtual) physical presence in front of me and his profanity-sprinkled tweets and blog entries. He is walking around the kitchen, trying to get some coffee going, and indeed cursing and dude-ing his merry way. I can see that he’s decked out in a stretched-out t-shirt and what look like pajama bottoms, and is sporting…is it?..yes, that’s right: an old-fashioned John Riggins/Travis Bickle Mohawk. Daaang

Still, as well as I can determine from 4,000 miles away, Mireles is decidedly not a homicidal cabbie. But don’t let his nice-guy voice fool you either. You could even say he’s got the right mix of amiability, the old Redskin fullback’s determination and just enough of that taxi driver madness. He’s also got a plan. And he does his homework. Dude.

Mireles had stumbled upon a previous entry from this blog and sent me a slap-down comment, which got me reading his blog…and the rest, as they say, is biztory. He was not the first perfect stranger with more success/experience than me to be generous with his time, though the THREE-hour skype is up there with the most generous. The specific advice he gave me on my project was also bold and potentially game-changing. But he’s getting special attention here for another reason…and in some way, it starts with that particular hairstyle he chose. Or that chose him…

I actually only got a brief look because we cut the skype video after losing our connection twice. Still, throughout the morning (his NYC time zone) call, I imagined him there, still on his feet, at or near his laptop, pacing, jabbing the air, running his hands through that Augusta-fairway band of locks as he unfurled his unlikely bio and parried my attempts to stick to my guns on point X or Y of my core product and business model.

From the get-go, he apologized for his thoughts wandering a bit, which he blamed on a minor hangover: “Last night was poker night.” This is how hard-living workaholic entrepreneurs work off their Friday night booze: telling their stories, loading up strangers full of advice and inspiration and “this is what happened to me” tales. In another world/century, it would be the 41-year-old veteran journalist giving the once and future aspiring 29-year-old reporter counsel. But things, as Bob says, have changed. Born from his own aborted journalism ambitions, Speakertext is truly one of those “Of Course. That!” ideas. It’s so big and simple – and timely – that it’s just a question of working out the bugs, and watching where the crowd will take it. But even getting the beta version up has been a life-changing experience for him. As ever, it’s about the execution…and some 12 months ahead of me, he was eager to share….

But listening to Mireles, he stands out as much for the How as the What he is saying. It’s the way he barks out ideas, trusts his gut, makes you laugh that, with a splash of nuts-and-bolts success, could make him the next New Media Guru. And why not him? Or her? That, of course, is the driving ethos of the internet itself.

But Mireles is still not there, and he knows it – constantly blurting out: What the fuck do I know; and manically citing his gurus and firing off relevant links via skype chat. Ultimately, though, that ‘ stop him. He has something to say that goes beyond any single idea or project that is some kind of elementary equation of ability to absorb information plus charisma plus a nose for how people behave. And, oh yeah, balls.

I’m sure there was a logical arc to our three hours on skype, but hell if I can remember. What I’m left with is the specific advice he gave me on my project that I’m researching now…and a series of kernels, curse words, links, World War II metaphors that are not project-specific.

Here’s just a portion, not necessarily in chronological order…and he will be the first to admit that he is just aggregating from the wisdom of others. But, always like Bob, he makes it his own.

…make it a wiki…then you become another time suck – and that’s what you want to be!

…what you need is a tech co-founder.  If you make this a tech play, you’ll have an easier time finding talent and raising capital.

…don’t produce content.  be a platform.

…who’s your earliest early adopter?

…have you read Crossing the Chasm

…think like you think in war: military insurgencies are just violent political entrepreneurs.

…at  a certain point switch from prep and prep to having to put something on the line.

….…check out Joe Liemandt

…i dont know if you can do this from France.

…Whats the lightest weight, most easily scalable.

…Build the platform, foster the community.

…you know 500 hats? check it out.

….being an entrepreneur is pivoting, iterating.

…you’re in WW II, You see the map. You got your forces …how do we get there? What’s the beach head?

…you really think you’re gonna stay in France?

–who’s your early adopter? who’s gonna have a hard on for your product? who’s gonna spam their friends?

…you gotta fucking read, Crossing the Chasm.

… read everything Fred Wilson writes

…you know Chris Dixon? Follow him. Paul Graham? Him too.

…be light

…be scalable

…be like water going down a hill…

One fundamental difference we acknowledged is a question of geography and family…that is, mobility. He’s 29, single and totally committed to his project. I’m 41, married with two kids, and totally committed to my project. That is not the same thing. And the execution may in fact be very different. I explained that my wife’s good job here in Paris is actually making it possible for me to throw myself into this ever more every day. I couldnt make him understand that putting my family’s well-being on the line (ie, moving us to Silicon Valley or NYC without a fixed income) is a non-starter for me. He thinks that’s somehow a kind of existential deal breaker. I told him to read Malcolm Gladwell article about how some of the most legendarily bold entrepreneurs are actually calculated risk takers.  “Dude, you gotta get your ass to the States,” he shot back. “You gotta land at friggin’ Normandy.” Later, he put it this way: “As much as anything, doing this is about  getting amped about a myth…” That, I can’t argue with. And so, make room for the next great new media legend of Matt Mireles to catch flight.  And fuck it dude: why not mine too…

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The Birth of a (petit) Project Within the Bigger One

I’m still finding my voice on Twitter. The only thing I’m sure of is that I won’t be tweeting my breakfast menu or misadventures on public transportation. So far I have also shied away from the Confucian pearls of wisdom and random thoughts about the state of the world or my failures at fatherhood. My tweets are mostly linked to news that’s breaking, both in the rest of the world and this much smaller universe of the Transformation of the Business of Information.

Based in Europe, and with the majority of my followed-and-followers in the US, I have found that my geography and language skills may help me to get some breaking news into the Twitter river ahead of the crowd. And so there I was the other morning, about to re-Tweet some bit of France news (don’t remember what?), when another interesting story popped up…and I thought: Hmmm? Let me try to squeeze these two together into one tweet. But with 140 characters to work with…good luck!? So I put the two links aside into a Word document…and then it HIT! me: Why not expand the 2 links into, say, 5…and bundle it into a TOP HEADLINES FROM JEFF post. I could put it up on this site, and link to it once a day. At the very least it would be a good workout at world news story selection, which will be key to the website I am trying to launch. But then it HIT! me…again! If timing is everything, that’s doubly true on the real-time web, which is creating new niches in the ways and whens of how we consume information. I should exploit my Time Zone advantage and News Biz Experience, I told myself, and deliver a story list at around 7 a.m. Eastern time composed solely of news that has broken since 11 p.m. It will necessarily be different than wire service roundups and website Top Stories, which tend to always include plenty of reports of what was already known before the plugged-in news junkies logged off and went to bed. Instead, I would focus on stories that broke after Americans went to bed….which has become While U Slept.

This daily a.m. story list, which I have begun to post here and also at, is geared exclusively toward a hyper-plugged-in U.S. readership and will be composed of aggregated links. (My website project will be different/more) In the first few days so far, it has included a mix of news happening in the first part of the day in Asia and Europe, and late at night in North America, as well as a few exclusive scoops coming out in US publications.

So well before I’ve launched the actual project I have in mind, I already have a related product of sorts. Again, it is a no-lose situation, allowing me to jump straight into story selection, headline writing and the like. (I am happy to report that it comes rather naturally after 18 years as a reporter…and is damned fun!) But my next trick – to be addressed in an upcoming post — is to see if I can actually begin to build an audience…before I’ve even built my website!?


Filed under branding, Breaking News, content, entrepreneurship, journalism, new media, old media, platforms, social media, The Big 5 (Top Overnight Stories), Top Headlines, world news