I am in a reflective mood, not because it is the start of a new year or a new decade, but because a big part of my life and my wife’s life – our beloved Sir Izacat Mewton, a big cuddly tom, passed unexpectedly right before Christmas. We just buried him, and we are grieving. He was 10 and a half years old, far too young, and this more than anything in the calendar is pulling us back through a decade of memories with him and our lives together.
Ten years ago, we went to Lanzarote for New Year’s. I was still at The Guardian, serving as the digital research editor, and I hadn’t yet decided to take voluntary redundancy, a buyout.
The first 10 years of this century had been an amazing decade for me professionally. I started it working at the Washington bureau of the BBC, and then after blogging the 2004 US elections, I transferred to London to write a strategic white paper for the BBC on how it should respond to blogs and podcasts. And in 2006, I left the BBC to join The Guardian.
I was often restive during this period, trying to find a way forward professionally in a world where digital journalism career paths were about blazing new trails but didn’t have a clear or clean progression.
Kevglobal Goes Global
Not long after the New Year a decade ago, I decided to take VR (a buyout) from The Guardian. I didn’t really have a plan, but I wanted the freedom to explore. And over the past decade explore I did. I spent a good chunk of the last decade building my own business, working with dozens of media companies and non-profits in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. I trained thousands of journalists in digital journalism skills including social media, data journalism long-form storytelling as well as audience development and engagement. I worked with Al Jazeera journalists before and during the Arab Spring, and in one of my proudest moments, I worked with Tunisian journalists as they prepared to cover their first free and fair elections in three decades in 2011. I was a guest lecturer at Oxford University and LSE, and in 2017, I wrote a report on innovation management at media companies for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford.
In between working for myself, I held various full-time positions, as an editor and digital strategist with the Media Development Investment Fund, as a regional executive editor for Gannett and now as a digital managing editor with ideastream, a large regional public media group in the US.
Even friends said that I didn’t seem to have a sense of what I wanted to do. I have always wanted to create the future of media. But as for so many journalists over the past decade, my different jobs weren’t so much of a career journey as they were a forced march. With the changes in media, roles simply weren’t durable. In my last role in newspapers with Gannett, I joke that I survived the first six rounds of cuts in the 21 months I had my role but not the seventh.
With my current role in public media in the US, I have finally had the gift of stability, and I have had the opportunity within my role to plot a future. It has given me time to think about what I want to do and where the most exciting and promising future lies for me.
Over the past decade, I have discovered an entrepreneurial passion and drive that I didn’t know I had, and I have become fascinated with not only product development but also with organisational dynamics. How can I help the organisations that I work for manage change? That has been one of the constant themes of my work, and I hear it from my team at work and the teams that I have worked with during my consulting.
This is what I want to do: Develop products for changing markets and help companies re-orient themselves towards these new market opportunities. I have been developing products for more than a decade, but I know I need new skills to help organisations adapt. That’s why today I’m starting a master’s degree with the University of York in innovation management and leadership. I’m so excited to be able to do this while I continue working. I’ll be learning new skills and also being able to apply those skills in my day-to-day work.