It’s been thrilling to be on the street for the revolution that is unfolding in our business. And of course we’re not alone. In January 2007, Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris, the former Washington Post political reporters, started Politico, which has capitalized on the most exciting election in a generation and done an excellent job building a news organization that has become a must-read for political junkies. Less than a year before our launch, Paul Steiger, the legendary Wall Street Journal editor, got his nonprofit ProPublica off the ground. More reporters and editors are and will emerge from the traditions of great newsrooms to try to find a niche for well-reported storytelling in the digital age.
There are many of you in your cubicles in the newsroom or your home offices now, I expect, plotting your own escape from mainstream media, and I encourage you to break out. It is an exciting time, a historic shift in how the world will be informed. I compare it to the Middle Ages. The entities that make up the Holy Roman Empire of journalism—the big city newspapers and networks—are seeing the reach of their far-flung armies diminish as smaller principalities emerge and construct their own walled city states.
I still nervously hope that those of us who’ve made the jump will not be remembered as Don Quixotes tilting at windmills. I try hard to convince myself on the drive home from work at the end of some very long days that we are more akin to knights of a new order, marching out with battered armor to slay some dragons.