Thursday, January 21, 2010

I’m moving to Honolulu to become the first editor of Peer News

I’m moving to Paradise. For a dream job.

Today Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of eBay, announced that I’m going to become the first editor of Peer News, a Honolulu-based local news service that will produce original, in-depth reporting and analysis of local issues in Hawaii.

Pierre and Randy Ching co-founded Peer News Inc. in 2008 “with the goal of empowering citizens and encouraging greater civic participation through media.” I learned of the project in November when a friend pointed out Pierre’s blog post about his search for an editor. He wrote: “We believe that a strong democracy requires an engaged society supported by effective news reporting and analysis. And, we believe that this can be done in a profitable, sustainable way.”

I share those beliefs, and when we began talking I became excited about the opportunity to work as a member of their team. I’ve collaborated with many great people in the newspaper industry over the years, but my new colleagues come at these challenges from a fresh perspective and with a record of accomplishment in the online world. I’ve enjoyed my freedom since the Rocky Mountain News closed last February. I’ve been writing here and elsewhere, speaking, consulting, traveling and learning new skills. But as I wrote in a column for The Wall Street Journal last summer, "I genuinely miss being part of a larger entity with a purpose." That I now will have the opportunity to help build one from scratch, to create a new news culture with such talented partners, makes me very happy.

I’ll be joining the Peer News team in Honolulu later this month and will begin working right away to hire a staff. If you’re a reporter or assistant editor candidate interested in joining our team, you can learn more and submit your resume here and here, respectively. Please don’t phone or e-mail me directly. We’re looking for thoughtful writers with a proven record of breaking new ground with investigative reporting. The job will require more interaction with readers and the community than is typical at most local news operations. Hawaii experience or background is a big plus. And everybody on the team must be savvy about using today’s technology and ready to embrace any new tools. It’s a start-up, so candidates also need to be passionate about the idea and willing to do whatever is necessary to get the project off the ground.

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had as a journalist. Every step of the way I’ve been able to become part of fascinating communities - Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Toronto, Denver - and now I look forward to immersing myself in Honolulu. I’m grateful to so many in Colorado and will miss my adopted state and the many friends I’ve made there. But I’m excited about the future and about the possibility of making a difference in a new community.

You’ll be able to follow what we’re doing at Peer News on Pierre’s blog and on a blog I’ll start as editor. I also plan to start a new twitter account at Peer News. For the time being, I’ll keep you up-to-date on my doings at Peer News and my thinking about journalism and media issues on this blog. I’ll post a link to the conference call where we discussed the new initiative today as soon as I have one.


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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back in the blogosphere

This is my first post in more than a month. I've been working as an on-site consultant to the Greenspun Media Group in Las Vegas and found that it was very difficult to keep up a blog and work inside a media company as an adviser. The blogosphere is a place for open and robust discussion. But that conflicts with the work of a consultant, which is to offer insight and assistance on a confidential basis. Not only is the work demanding and time-consuming. But it seemed to me that anything I wrote could be read as some type of commentary on the place where I was working or the issues I was working on. I don't think it would have been right to have done that. It could have confused the staff or given the wrong impression to the community or competitors. It made more sense to me to keep everything internal.

It was difficult to find where to draw the line when writing about journalism or media issues when I was working as a media consultant. So I drew it very broadly. I would have felt differently if I had been a member of the company's very talented staff. In that case, as when I was editor of the Rocky Mountain News, I would have used my blog and twitter to interact with the community and try to provide insight into our decisions and actions as a news organization. As I would advise any editor to do today.

I've now wrapped up my on-site work in Las Vegas and look forward to rejoining the online debate.

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