By Steve Outing
This bears repeating and spreading around. It’s a quote from Jay Rosen (NYU, Pressthink) that appeared on his Facebook status today:
“News people who wonder why their industry gets creamed by Google and Yahoo are the same news people who dismiss an idea after it fails once.”
He may be referring to the trashing that Rob Curley’s LoudonExtra hyper-local site for the Washington Post is getting from some quarters. (And if he’s not, he could be!) Yes, “hyper-local” journalism hasn’t worked out yet. (Remember Backfence.com?) But considering that local is what most newspapers have to cling to in an era when national and international news is a free and easily found commodity, they best not give up on figuring out how “local-local” can succeed.
This reminds me of my most recent failure, the Enthusiast Group (2006-07), which aimed to build interactive social communities around enthusiast sports. Just this week I learned that Dave Morgan (founder of Real Media, Tacoda), one of the smartest and most successful media people I know, is becoming chairman of a tennis venture that sounds similar to what we were attempting at EG.
I won’t be surprised if Morgan and his new colleagues figure out to turn passionate enthusiast communities into a viable business. He’s a way smart businessman (Tacoda sold to AOL for $275 million) and I’m willing to bet he’ll find the secret sauce that we didn’t. I suspect many traditional media companies will look at EG’s failure and say, “Don’t want to go there!”
News companies, especially, really need to inject some entrepreneurial folks into their operations. Entrepreneurs fail, learn from it, and move on. They don’t give up.