Working in the intersections

Last week was an atypical one for me – no travel. My personal blogging and social media contributions have not been as substantial as my contributions to my Delta SkyMiles account (Platinum in July, thanks). But last week gave me enough time to take a bit of a balcony view of our work at C2C.

When Janet and I started Coats2Coats just over two years ago, we did it very consciously: We would focus on a media future that is participatory, profitable and mobile.  We wanted to build our practice not within specific sectors of media but, rather, in the intersections that were emerging.

Because that’s where things get really interesting.

I tend to describe our work at Coats2Coats visually. That’s maybe an odd quirk – and perhaps a confession – for a lifelong writer: I’m a visual learner.

Media Venn diagram

It looks like this:

And wow, have there been a lot of intersections.

We’d come from careers in legacy media but wanted to broaden our lens. We were quickly drawn into emerging media models, almost all of which occur in those overlap zones of the classic Venn diagram.

We have worked with for-profit and non-profit indie news publishers seeking sustainability models and exit strategies. We recently completed a yearlong business capacity training program for 12 indie publishers in the Block by Block community called Super Camp. Funded by The Patterson Foundation, the program got the attention of the Investigative News Network and foundations concerned about the sustainability of local and investigative news startups. Because of that, INN received funding from the The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to offer a similar program for 36 publishers in mid-October called Community Journalism Executive Training, or CJET.

Also this year, I’ve held the role of Executive Director of the Newspaper Consortium, managing a multi-million-dollar partnership between 37 newspaper companies (some of which changed hands this year) and Yahoo! There can be so many moving parts – Yahoo has had three CEOs this year, after all – that the overlap points are constantly shifting as organizations on both sides of the partnership seek to stay relevant in an open-source world.

We’ve worked with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to evaluate and prescribe improvements for seven Local Journalism Centers, a project that is, at its core, about the evolution of public media. The overlap points there – collaboration, partnerships and niche news focus – inform new models for incumbent and disruptive folks alike.

Among our start-up clients, Spreed and ScribbleLive, are transforming news gathering and news delivery across a wide spectrum of media companies. They marry powerful technology with start-up discipline and take-the-hill enthusiasm – something that helps our traditional-media and foundation clients see around new corners.

Then there are the legacy news operations looking to redefine themselves in a 21st Century frame – rather than framing themselves as what’s left over from years of newsroom cuts. Ditto the clients on the sales side, seeking to create full-service marketing solutions for clients that span print and digital and social, and building the infrastructure and metrics to support it. Sometimes, the intersections are internal – such as the seemingly impermeable wall between content and revenue.

It’s the spaces between that matter – that’s where the most interesting stuff is happening.  That’s where we spend a lot of our time, and where we see our clients’ futures.

Now, back to the airport…