By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Inspired to be wired

If you scroll down the right-hand column of this blog, you will eventually come to a graphic I posted last week for Wired Journalists. The site, started recently by Ryan Sholin, Howard Owens and Zac Echola, is a social network for journalists who are interested and involved in changing the way news organizations do business. The mission statement opens thusly: was created with self-motivated, eager-to-learn reporters, editors, executives, students and faculty in mind.

Our goal is to help journalists who have few resources on hand other than their own desire to make a difference and help journalism grow into its new 21st Century role.

You don’t need the best equipment, the biggest budget or even management support to accomplish worthy goals. The only requirement is a willingness to learn and a mind open to new ways of thinking about journalism.

Wired Journalists is heavily oriented toward multimedia, with journalists invited to upload their photos and videos. But it’s open to anything, and people are already forming groups about a whole range of topics. There’s also a news feed of off-site material and a central gathering point for blog posts. I’ve created a Northeastern University group, and my students in Reinventing the News will be joining this afternoon.

As of this morning, there are already 968 members, which is pretty remarkable for a site that went live just a few weeks ago.

I find the platform for Wired Journalists to be as interesting as the content. It’s built on Ning, a DIY social-network environment created by Marc Andreessen, who helped write Mosaic and Netscape lo these many years ago. One thing I’ve never quite understood about the appeal of Facebook, MySpace et al. is that they’re semi-closed environments — it’s as though everyone suddenly started pointing to the pre-Web AOL as the cool new thing.

Ning allows anyone to create his or her own social network, which strikes me as a more promising model in the long run.

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  1. mike_b1

    Perhaps it’s the semi-exclusivity that drove the popularity. Everyone wants to go to the cool kids’ parties.Re the AOL reference, there is nothing original about Facebook or MySpace (except their popularity). For instance, was launched (and failed) some five to seven years ahead of Facebook. It offered the same college-student networking and user-driven content concepts.

  2. Cody

    DK:Did you ever see this clip from the Simpsons on the current state of newspapers?we watched this episode last night (after the sports disaster that must not be mentioned) and I thought of you when this gag came up.Nelson Muntz on the current state of Newspapers

  3. Ryan Sholin

    Thanks, Dan!Howard Owens and Zac Echola are the co-founders of, and share all the blame/credit with me for building the network and driving its direction.

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