When I first started the MediaShift blog for PBS in January 2006, I had a vision for much more than just a one-person blog. To try to cover the changing media world, it would require having more contributors helping to cover what was happening at newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, music, movies and more. And rather than writing about things in the third person, we wanted to make MediaShift a place where we could “walk our talk” and do those things.
Not only did we wildly succeed in expanding MediaShift beyond me as a solo blogger, we also succeeded in building our audience (180,000 unique visitors per month and growing); adding on the Idea Lab site with a grant from the Knight Foundation; expanding our education coverage on EducationShift; creating a live events business; and even launching our new DigitalEd online trainings.
Leaving PBS Behind
Now the time is right for us to become an independent web publisher, and today we move to our new home at MediaShift.org.
PBS has been an amazing host, funder and collaborator since 2006 — nearly 10 years online, which is an eternity! People like Amanda Hirsch, Kevin Dando, Jayme Swain, Mike Jenkins, Matt Vogrin and so many others have been instrumental in supporting MediaShift editorial, tech, e-books, marketing and more. Being a part of the PBS.org family was an honor and gave us a link to one of the most trusted brands in media.
But after so many years, I believe that MediaShift has established its own brand and can leave the nest and soar. It’s not going to be easy, and running an online publishing concern is never easy, especially with the challenges we’ve seen at places such as GigaOm and even Re/code.
But what makes MediaShift work is staying in tune with our audience. They’ve told us they wanted to make in-person human connections, so we started a series of networking events. Those soon grew to the Collab/Space innovation workshops, and more recently we began weekend hackathons for journalism students, and even our first European event, the Journalism Innovation Summit, in London.
They also told us they wanted more training, because who can possibly keep up on all the skills needed in digital media? So we started DigitalEd last April, online trainings in partnership with journalism and communication schools. We hope to expand those offerings with partnerships with more schools and instructors. And not only do we offer training, but we also aggregate the best trainings around the web on a weekly blog post and email newsletter.
Change in Education
I had no inkling back in 2006 that our biggest subject at MediaShift would end up being the major changes coming to journalism education. It was obvious that needed to happen — how can you train new journalists in an age when everything is changing so fast? — but I didn’t realize that MediaShift would become the top place for educators and students to discuss innovation. Thanks to Eric Newton at the Knight Foundation (he’s now heading to ASU) and our Education Curator Katy Culver, we’ve built a loyal following at EdShift.org, along with our weekly #EdShift chats on Twitter and weekly Education newsletter.
We only expect that to grow, as traditional education institutions are disrupted by online and hybrid learning, and educators need to update their skills just like the rest of us. We’ve had a long history of working with those institutions, with many of them sponsoring MediaShift, hosting our hackathons and partnering on DigitalEd trainings.
So where do we go from here? We don’t expect our audience to notice any changes from what they experience at MediaShift on a daily basis. The same features, the same email newsletters, the same events and the same attitude you expect from MediaShift: skeptical but hopeful of positive change in the media business.
We will stay true to our motto from Day 1: “Your Guide to the Digital Media Revolution.” But rather than focus on just our website as a guide, we want to be a guide with our aggregations via email, our in-person events and workshops, our trainings and more.
And to be a really useful guide, MediaShift has to be more than just me. So I salute all the valued people who have helped us along the way, and especially our current team:
Courtney Lowery Cowgill: Managing Editor
Kara Murphy: Sponsorship Manager
Katy Culver: Education Curator
Kimberly Selden: Events Manager
Meg Dalton: Associate Editor
Julie Keck: Social Media and Newsletter Editor
James Buck: DigitalEd Manager
Erek Alper: Technical Support
Sonia Paul: Editorial Assistant
Jefferson Yen: Podcast Managing Producer
Meagan Doll: Editorial Intern
We’ve always been open to collaborations, and even have a section dedicated to media collaborations, Collaboration Central, that birthed our Collab/Space workshops. And that’s our continuing vision: work with like-minded organizations, grow stronger and be open to change.
Mark Glaser is executive editor and publisher of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He is an award-winning writer and accidental entrepreneur, who has taken MediaShift from a one-person blog to a growing media company with events such as Collab/Space workshops and weekend hackathons; the weekly “Mediatwits” podcast; and digital trainings, DigitalEd, in partnership with top journalism schools. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.