How do we save journalism + tech? 💫

Taking the best from both worlds, and redefining what is valued to create a better future.

Hey friends 👋 Welcome to the latest issue of Erin for Tech. The internet is being a current hot mess right now, so I hope this newsletter brings you a bit of joy. I’m currently focused on my graduate research looking at tools, and viability of these tools for providing new media models for content creators, so expect to hear more of that in the coming newsletters! If you’re enjoying these newsletters, please share and subscribe - if you’re really enjoying them, support me on patreon.


Did we move into a content creator economy?

If you’re one of the 16 individuals that have been my colleague in my graduate career, you’ve probably heard my tangents and frustrations about both the journalism world and the tech world. As someone who formally studied journalism, and has published pieces as a journalist, but then dove headfirst into technology — I hold strong gripes with each world. And it endlessly frustrates me how, in my mind, these worlds could do so much good together. Journalists are amazing at being curious, asking good questions, telling stories, creating good content, so much of what these platforms thrive for and rely on for successful builds.

I was reminded of this issue of Brianne Kimmel’s newsletter, covering the 6 builders who will thrive in the new world, where she discusses how the global pandemic will change the way that we’re working to favor flexible, empathetic values. And I couldn’t agree more. In the issue of her newsletter she outlines the following groups:

  • The Designers who Code

  • The Career Jumpers 

  • The Ambitious Advisors 

  • The Creative Hackers 

  • The Industry Academics

  • The Community Builders

And reading through this list, I’m reminded of the same list that was shared with us my first semester of graduate school, I even pulled out my notebook to look at what I had jotted down in class - inspired and excited by where the media industry is going.

  • Bridge Roles (connecting departments)

  • Product Roles (creating new media products, testing out new platforms)

  • Audience Engagement/Social Media Editors

  • Newsletter Editors

  • Computational Journalists

  • Growth Fellow

  • Rapid Response Designer

Dare I say, are these two lists looking very similar, just with their own set of jargon and language? Both the tech industry and the journalism industry are stuck in the same flaws of believing that we should keep on the path of doing things the way they’ve always been done. We’ve established hierarchy, built and paraded around outdated business models, and held on to notions that maybe we shouldn’t anymore.

A Vox article published last year highlights how if we’re willing to look at journalism as a more broad industry - we may be able to save the journalism industry as a whole. Honestly, I wholeheartedly agree. But that requires us to look at what journalism role in society is, and make sure that the industry is still upholding that role. My belief in what journalism is has evolved since entering graduate school, and more and more I see opportunity in media and tech to better collaborate for a better future.

Journalism’s role in society is to tell the truth, inform the public, hold people accountable, and most importantly - start conversations about what really matters.

With this definition, we define no platform, no medium, no specific way that it needs to happen, just the fact that it needs to happen. For this reason, I would argue that we’re largely moving into a content creator economy. As outlined in both the evolution of journalism jobs, as well as Brianne Kimmel’s take on what we’ll see coming out of this crisis, it’s largely predicted that those who are working towards a future, need to be ready to embrace change.

I’m also largely convinced that we need the skills of both journalism and tech to create a better future. We’ll take empathy, social skills, listening, curiosity, research and a dedication to truth from journalism, and combine that with the skills of monetization, building, analytics, testing, and a willingness to try something completely out of left field right from the tech world - and combine these to build a better future. ✨

The rise of new tools for creation.

From both part of these worlds, we see the rise of new tools for creation. Notably, the one I’m writing to you from in particular has often been heralded among writers as an easy way to just monetize. But first off, is it really that easy? and are subscriptions the way to go? I’m not sure I would say that Substack is the end all be all for media creators.

But that’s just one tool out of many that we’re using to build new futures. I’ve started to use yourstack to document the tools I use as part of my workflow. And the more that I’ve started to think about the tools we use to create and monetize our lives, the more I’m thrilled about the future.

The rise of low-cost no code or low code browser-based software brings the tools of creation into the hands of so so so many people. And one group that hits my heart particularly right now, is students. With COVID-19, many schools are remote, and students are forced to be working from their laptops away from schools where resources are a little more plentiful. If I was an undergraduate student, or new to this world of online content creation, preparing to hit the workforce full-force, here are the tools I’d look at first to build my own portfolio, and other assets online.

  • Webflow - no code website builder

  • Notion - note-taking, database creator

  • - turn notion docs into an online site, add fonts x custom domain support

  • Twitter - yes! it’s a tool! use it for good!

  • Substack - create a newsletter!

  • Product Hunt - discover new creations, promote things you create, become part of the maker community.

  • Figma - design, prototyping, slide decks, social media assets, etc.

  • Slack - internal team comms usually, but also — many groups that provide resources and education are on slack as well!

  • Airtable - my favorite spreadsheet / database tool, I use to track success of campaigns, track growth, and to build task managers.

need help with any of these tools? I’m creating a database of resources — let me know what tool you’d like to see use cases with first and I can prioritize that tool!

do you have a tool you love that’s missing? — reply to this email and tell me!

Just dropping this tweet here — b/c it largely relates to how I feel about the future of tech and media. Maybe if we just stop fighting and instead combine our forces to be a rag tag team of creators and makers we can save the internet and therefore the world. (A girl can dream in sci-fi tropes, right?) 🚀

Quick Links

And with all that — that’s all for this week my friends. 👋 Erin for Tech is a weeklyish newsletter from @erinmikail who thinks a lot about the intersection of tech and journalism, and what the heck this has to do with community x product. She also recently got hitched to her best friend which is really cool, because let’s normalize celebrating life outside of work and our side hustles!!! ✨

I’ll catch you on the internet my dudes. ✌️

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