*** RYAN TATE: Shocking secrets--revealed! ***





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Tuesday, August 2, 2005

I went to a roundtable discussion with Tom Foremski tonight. Tom quit the Financial Times after five years covering Silicon Valley to start his own publication online. It was inspiring to hear him talk about the energy, thrill and mystery of starting one's own media brand on the Web. In many ways, the Web publishing community today feels as energized as it was in 1994, when the Apache Web server and the banner ad were both born at HotWired.com in San Francisco and all manner of cranks dreamt of becoming modern-day Thomas Paines.

Print media looks positively pathetic in terms of momentum. Everyone is shrinking. The LA Times won close to 13 Pulitzers in one year and was rewarded with roughly 5 percent decline in circ. Worse still, most publishers have shriveled in the face of competition, offering Internet half measures and belated bloated acquisitions while jealously guarding against any so-called "cannibalization" of their traditional businesses -- textbook example of the "Innovator's Dillema."

Foremski struck out on his own. It sounds like he's still figuring out the financial details, and above all banking on the advantage of moving first and fast. He was the first journalist at a major newspaper to quit for the Web, beating Dan Gillmor's much ballyhooed departure from the San Jose Mercury News by several months. And within months he was ranked as one of the three most influential Webloggers, right up there with Wonkette and Dave Barry. My gut tells me Foremski is wise to jump into the Web publishing fray early.

Foremski's example, along with Paul Graham's sage advice, is ample ammunition for young journalists hunting for opportunity. Take a chance and strike out on your own. You do not need a printing press any more. You just need a lot of talent, a lot of speed, a lot of versatility -- and some major balls.

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