Think about technology in the last 14 years. I remember interacting with computers that looked like this.
I would get assigned to do projects based on research done on a computer, completely astounding my parents with how much time I spent in front of a screen.
By then Google had announced it has indexed over one billion pages, making it the Internet’s largest search engine. And for the first time more than half of the households in America had Internet access, according to Nielsen.
After that came laptops in the classrooms, articles and journals that were read almost solely on screens. An entire generation was learning to read by downloading or saving on a CD or flash drive (floppies were dead by then). A generation was learning to move and adapt as quickly as the technology itself changed. A generation was so comfortable with not being one thing that the letter “Y” (a consonant and a vowel) is the perfect way to describe us. And we drive consumption of anything techie and new.
But the news industry, in its current model, has failed us. And Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist and founding father of the web browser agrees, but adds we’re on the “verge of a major boom in the business of journalism, an Internet-powered resurgence that will see the industry grow more than tenfold.”
Andreessen argues that as the Internet destroyed the news it has the capacity to revive it. And I think he’s right.
I see this happening at Reese News Lab. We find problems and then work our little butts off to find solutions. Our capacity and diversity of thought is applied to recognizing the problems we live with and then solving them. We are savvy in the ways of the picking ourselves up when we fail. Andreessen says success in the future focuses on vision, scrappiness, experimentation, adaptability, focus, deferral of gratification and an entrepreneurial mindset.
Our different projects within the last year have hit on these characteristics in every way. Over the summer we worked on projects like NewsLing, which translates live newscasts into Spanish. We found this was major need for the local community, and it could scale across the nation to fund itself. We were accepting the fact that it was a huge endeavor and an expensive one. But in his post Andreessen applauds startups that are still in the red. And we were taking on levels of hands-on- experimentation with every section of our target groups: Latinos, advertisers and new stations themselves were all tested with the product, and there were many adaptations made from the first and later models.
The other summer project, Capitol Hound, had a strong vision from the beginning. It is a service that makes transcripts from the N.C. General Assembly searchable and with an added service of alerts for important keywords. It is a highly useful and valuable tool for the media, lawyers and lobbyists. There was incredible focus by the team in the beginning to get this well researched and in front of the important people, the market. At Reese News Lab we make our projects our obsessions and it’s ours to make and run with.
I feel encouraged by Andreessen’s words, especially his comments on the entrepreneurial mindset: “We make the business. We control our future. It’s on us.”