Thank you! The Oscar speech as I start my new job

As I start my new job, I feel a deep sense of gratitude. I owe a lot of people a lot of thanks for their support over the last two years.

As I go back to full-time work, I first want to thank the managing director of Y Ffynhonnell, Suw, for being such a great boss. 😉 Seriously, Suw helped me navigate this leap into independence, which was truly terrifying for someone who had always held a full-time job. She has also been really supportive about my new job, although I’m sure she will miss me as a valued employee. She’ll still have to deal with me as an office mate.

I also want to thank all of the clients I’ve worked with over the past two years. Like the Oscars, I can’t thank you all here. I especially want to thank Mohamed Nanabhay and Riyaad Minty for the amazing opportunity to work with Al Jazeera. Thanks to Durga Raghunath at Network18 in India for inviting Suw and me to help with the launch of FirstPost. Strategy meetings in February to launch in May! Wow, what a ride. Thanks to John Thompson at for inviting me to participate in the News Rewired conferences and for giving me the opportunity to share my passion for data journalism with other journalists. Thanks to Karl Schneider of RBI (and Adam Tinworth, now available to help you take your digital editorial projects to the next level) for giving me the opportunity to do training with staff on data journalism and beat blogging. Thanks also to the Norwegian Institute of Journalism and Transitions Online also for giving me opportunities to train journalists in a wide range of digital skills. Thank you to Send a Cow for an amazing opportunity to go to Kenya and see how mobile technology might help the farmers they work with share information. Suw and I had the opportunity to work with many other clients. Thank you all.

HIRED: Knowledge Bridge and the Media Development Loan Fund

After two years of very successful and satisfying professional independence working alongside Suw, I’ve decided to accept an exciting new, full-time position with Media Development Loan Fund.

Who will I be working for?

Who dat, you ask?

The Media Development Loan Fund is a mission-driven investment fund for independent news outlets in countries with a history of media oppression.

Last summer, I was invited to an MDLF board meeting to talk about media developments in the Middle East, based on the work that I had been doing with Al Jazeera. The board was also keen to discuss developments in digital media. When I attended the meeting, MDLF’s CEO Harlan Mandel described the fund as a unique organisation. Yes, the fund focuses on funding news outlets in countries with a history of media oppression, but the goal is to grow the news organisations into self-sustaining, sustainable businesses.

That impressed me. In 2012, I don’t see a crisis in journalism in the developed world as much as a crisis with the business model of journalism. In 2012, we need not just collaboration between hacks and hackers, coders and content creators, I also want to see collaboration between editors, ad departments and business and product development folks. I think you can maintain editorial independence while thinking of the key question of how we create economically sustainable news organisations.

Most of my work has focused on the US and the UK, developed media markets with news businesses under intense pressure. MDLF has been working with clients often facing not just the challenge of creating sustainable businesses but often facing the political pressure of operating in emerging democracies. Despite these challenges, MDLF has had some amazing results:

  • After one year of working with MDLF, client reach grew by an average of 33%, and after 5 years by 71%.
  • From 2009 to 2010, individual client sales grew by an average of 11%. After 5 years of working with MDLF, client sales increased by an average of 213%, and after 7 years by 345%.

Again, this impressed me. Independent media not only doing good but doing well. We need a lot more of this.

What will I be doing?

MDLF wants to help the news organisations it works with make the digital transition. To achieve this, MDLF will be launching the Knowledge Bridge project. (No link because it’s not launched yet. Another digital initiative they have already launched is their Digital News Ventures fund. If you’re a digital news entrepreneur, you’ll want to check it out.) The Knowledge Bridge is both a platform (a blog, a digital resource centre and newsletter) to capture the best in digital business and editorial strategy and a capacity building concept, which will provide digital editorial and business skills training and consulting for clients. MDLF has worked in 27 countries, from Guatemala to Indonesia, and the Knowledge Bridge will be focusing on the digital media business needs in those countries, although we will definitely highlight the best digital thinking in the US, Europe and elsewhere. I’ll be the editor for the Knowledge Bridge and also helping to manage the training and consulting for clients. It took a challenge this big and an organisation this interesting to lure back to full-time work.

I’ll keep it relatively brief because we’ll be talking a lot more about it when it launches next month. Watch this space! (And your inbox. I’ve got a lot of emails to a lot of you about exciting opportunities to collaborate on the Knowledge Bridge project.)

UPDATE: MDLF has officially announced my new role.