A lot of it depends how much your ability to report/write with freedom is impinged by the people writing the checks. That varies enormously from gig to gig.
I don't have any problem with someone who goes down that route, just as I don't have problems with people who go into PR. Probably not for me, but nothing sinful about it if you enjoy it.
I don't know about Canada, but the sponsored content business is supporting a lot of young journalists these days, for better or worse.
I have a feeling it's going to generate a lot of journalism-ethics columns in a few years when some hotshot journalist is found out to have written stories for ExxonMobil back in 2014. My instinct is to avoid being too scoldy, but disclosure issues will raise some hackles, I bet.
Okay, before we close out, I'm going to get a little meta here.
Working at a startup as a journalist – a startup that produces a tool that is used by a lot of journalists – I often think about the fact that a decision here can affect reporters in the field. How do companies' goals and decisions play into the ethics of journalism? What kinds of things would you suggest journalists getting into the tech industry and startup world keep in mind?
It's a good question. The design and structural decisions technology companies make can have a huge impact on news. Twitter doesn't have a "Correct/Edit Tweet" function, for instance, which changes the way news spreads there.
I think the general values journalists are taught — be honest; pay attention to multiple sides of a story; be skeptical — all flow well into tech jobs or any other jobs, really.
I think one of the issues is that products like ScribbleLive (or Twitter et al) can be used by journalists, but they can also be used by any Canadian (or American). And they can be used for journalistic purposes, but they can also be used for things WILDLY different from journalism. And that's *wonderful*.
But it limits how much you can optimize the experience for journalistic values, I think, since in most cases, journalists will only be a small subset of your users.
I'll say this: Developers and journalists have a TON to teach each other. Lots and lots that one side knows/values/expects/demands that the other doesn't. They should talk more!
As we come to the end of the hour, any final remarks?
So if I were a journalist entering a tech company, somewhere on my to-do list I'd have something like: Bring journalistic values into the operation. They won't be the dominant values, in most cases, but they're important.
Just this: START SOMETHING! Have an idea and execute it. And if you're young and don't have a mortgage or kids yet, START SOMETHING TOMORROW. It's a perfect time to take crazy risks. Chances are you won't become a Zuckerberg, but you'll learn a lot and you'll contribute to a richer, more resilient Canadian media ecosystem.
And with that, I'll close out the chat.
A huge thank you to our guests today. This has been a really enlightening chat.
Thank you! And here's to the next big ideas.