Well, Project X may now be called Vox, but the great VC-backed media blitz of 2014 is staffed up and soft-launching, and it looks a lot more like Projects XY. Indeed, it’s impossible not to notice that in the Bitcoin rush to revolutionize journalism, the protagonists are almost exclusively – and increasingly – male and white.
To be sure, the internet has presented journalists with an extraordinary opportunity to remake their own profession. And the rhetoric of the new wave of creativity in journalism is spattered with words that denote transformation. But the new micro-institutions of journalism already bear the hallmarks of the restrictive heritage they abandoned with such glee. At the risk of being the old bat in the back, allow me to quote Faye Dunaway’s character from Network: “Look, all I’m saying is if you’re going to hustle, at least do it right.”
Journalism schools are known for producing writers. They’re known for different types of narratives. They are not necessarily lauded for producing math or computer science majors. That has to change.
I used to have a phrase that I deployed at the Guardian, which I stole from our chief technology strategist, which is “being of the Web, not just on the Web.” Digital journalism is about creating a living sort of news, rather than a finished article, and that’s the key difference. If you’re just putting stories on the Web—it doesn’t mean that stories aren’t good or that people won’t read them—but there’s a fundamental difference between that and actually producing digital journalism.