I have a confession. My feed reader is half-full of journalists writing about journalism.
Which, in itself isn’t all that bad, I suppose. But perspective is welcome after an hour wallowing in twelve takes on the latest bad news from the world of publishing.
So that’s why the other half of my feed reader is full of people who do not hold journalism degrees and don’t work in newspapers or television stations. These are people that are brimming with ideas, many of which are either directly relevant to the business of news, or which fire off some synapses in reaction.
Here are six that I can’t imagine going a day without.
1. Chris Brogan. More than even many journalists, Brogan has been exploring what the incredible proliferation of easy-to-use tools and cheap and accessible publishing platforms has meant for average people who suddenly find themselves in the role of publisher. His goal is simple: He want to help you become a better blogger. You can start at his “Best-of” page and dig from there. Side benefit: Brogan shows by example how to manage a highly readable and useful blog. Blogging journalists are urged to crib liberally.
2. Guy Kawasaki. Here’s why I know Guy is smart: Earlier in his career, his job was to convince developers to write programs for a computer — the Macintosh — that almost nobody owned. And he succeeded! Guy recently bundled up a year’s worth of blog posts from his blog called “How To Change The World” into a book called “Reality Check.” More significantly, in the past year, he created Alltop.com, a simple idea that newspapers could have owned if they’d tried: aggregation by category. As he explains, “We help you explore your passions by collecting stories from ‘all the top’ sites on the web.” Among the latest categories: cities.
3. Seth Godin. Seth is the guy who recently wrote that real estate agents with free time on their hands should start hyper-local newspapers. So you can start your hating now. But face it, he’s right. If newspapers don’t start doing a better job of reporting the kind of local news that matters to community members, someone will — and they just might just be underemployed mortgage-jockeys. Godin’s the kind of guy who’ll show them how. When he’s not suggesting that newspapers are replaceable, Godin can be found dispensing equally provocative ideas on an almost daily basis.
4. Dave Winer. If you called up Central Casting and said, “Send me a post-hippie programmer-genius with questionable social skills,” you’d get Dave Winer, or someone very much like him. But understand this: Dave is the real deal. He created RSS. He helped invent podcasting. He’s been promoting the concept of a river of news that flows past as an organizing concept for headlines. And, yet, if you called him a journalist, he’d probably hit you, or at least write some withering comments about you on his blog. And then he’d probably use the experience to inspire work on yet another cool tool. Reading Dave Winer isn’t a constant love-fest, but it’s guaranteed that your mind will be expanded.
5. Robert Scoble. Appropriately mentioned here, as he’s something of the cheerful flip-side of Dave Winer. Technically, Scoble’s a journalist at Fast Company, but he’s really more of a fan with a camera. That’s not a knock; his enthusiasm can be catching, especially when he’s raving about a new technology he’s just seen that is The Future of All Things (until the next thing comes along). Recently he and Steve Rubel (below) got into an exchange — that generated much more light than heat — about whether video or text is the better tool for storytelling and journalism.
6. Steve Rubel. If it’s true that great PR people think like journalists (and, often, are former journalists), then Steve Rubel is a great PR guy. His blog offers a window not just into the craft of public relations and how it’s being put to use in this time of micro-media growth (think bloggers and citizen journalists), it’s also a great ongoing conversation about communication. It doesn’t hurt that the man leading the conversation was among the first to move PR into the social realm, taking it online and introducing such now-common concepts as transparency long before other practitioners.
What non-journalists do you read when thinking about journalism? Share your favorites in the comments.