A news idea

I am sure some of you have noticed me on twitter going on about news startups, my own new newspaper etc.

It stems from the impending launch of The Daily, reading Mediactive as well as Clay Shirky’s latest.

What I have wanted to do was reimagine what the digital news service of the twenty first century would be, not encumbered with the weight of existing news rooms, proprietors etc.

I know what I am imagining, what I want. Reading Mediactive I realise that it’s not a thousand miles from other peoples ideas as well.

  • I don’t mind a news service, or a journalist who wears their biases and leanings on their sleeves.
  • I happen to love devices, I want my news, information across them. I want the service to know what have been reading / watching / commenting / annotating regardless of which screen I use.
  • I want context, background, I want to understand the story and it’s path not just the story itself (I know that does not make sense fully, I know what I mean I just have not worked out how to articulate it yet).
  • I want new journalism, as well as being pointed to stories across the reporting field.
  • words, pictures, video, audio are all equally valid and important,
  • the archive is important.
  • a daily astronomy section, no astrology anywhere. For Carl.
  • histiography. Keeping a track on how the entries in wikipedia are changing because of news reporting.

That’s just a start.

So I quickly realise that I am not going to build that myself.

Last night I was showing some friends McSweenys. The newspaper from last year especially. They spent months imagining and creating what their ideal daily paper might be like. It is a beautiful thing and an interesting experiment. It got me thinking.

I don’t have the cognitive space to do my new news service, in fact I shouldn’t. A news service is a communal thing, as much the internal organisational structures as external pressures.

So here is the idea:

1. Let’s all imagine our ideal news service. Server space etc is not the problem, discussion space is available.

2. A hack week to build ‘it’. It being an idea of what the dream is. Why a week, well I am just tired of weekend events that I don’t attend because of family. I also work during the week but if the event was spread, the people will be able to find some time to take part.

3. Commercialisation, monetization and all that. The tricky bit. So here I hope to involve some clever entrepreneurs who might like to help work out any new models for this but the key needs to be this:

A trust fund to run the service.

In the end everybody’s work would be theirs, to use, commercialise etc as they will, but can a model be made that the whole, a true rich vibrant news service be created that can develop a self funding model ? Maybe not but it’s got to be fun trying.

So, who’s in? My next steps are to gauge some response, set up a google group or two and see if I can find any support for the hack event. I might also think about a pledgebank to seed the trustfund, but.

This might all result in nothing more than a one off site that reports the news for a single day in a way that some of us find beautiful, or it may become one of the first true C21 news service.

All I can say now is, remember what Dennis Potter named his cancer…