Why I Started a Slack Community for Digital Journalism — and Need You to Join

Many thanks and lots of love to Kai, who came up with this awesome branding!

Did you ever sit in front of your desk, reading about this awesome new project of this other news outlet and wondered how on earth they managed to do this? Well, I sit there regularly.

Two weeks ago, I started a Slack Community for Digital Journalism to get rid of this situation. Why? Here are my four reasons and one call to join us.

1. Why digital journalism?

My personal answer: because I’m kind of obsessed by this topic. First I started to read everything about new projects, changes in the media landscape, new companies trying to build new things. Then I came to start an incubator for new ideas in digital journalism — and since then I dived even deeper into it.

But more important: Because nobody has found the perfect recipe for digital journalism yet. We all have to figure out what works — and there’s so much to explore! In 2014 we talked about longform journalism and multimedia pieces. In 2015 we talked about how to get our news into all those social streams. This year we talk about conversational journalism, bots, virtual reality, mobile. Do you notice? Is there a perfect recipe for longform yet? Social content has some best practices (Hello NowThis, hi BuzzFeed Tasty) — but the perfect social video? Did we already produce it? Aren’t there still other ways to explore?

We are far from perfect in bringing our stories to live on all those screens. We don’t know anything about storytelling in virtual reality yet. And what do you do when you experiment? You ask others and start brainstorming.

2. Why a community?

In each media house, there are a few people who are all into this new stuff. But they are still the minority there. But we are quite a lot when we come together — and we’re better together. Because we can share what we already know, what we think would work, what we tried and what failed.

Last month I did a tour through the U.S. visiting different media startups. I was overwhelmed by the willingness to share insights. Everyone was open and interested in my knowledge of the German media scene. And I wondered: Why don’t we share our insights more often? Easier? And more conversational than in reading and retweeting articles about the digital shift?

3. Why Slack?

I heard about Slack communities almost half a year ago in this article. Slack is a great tool for business conversations and creates a team feeling where Facebook groups are too often too random. Also I found this awesome list of other Slack communities, joined one about startups and got great contacts within half an hour.

So I decided to launch a Slack community on my own. And it feels a bit like the old forum re-invented. There are channels for different topics (currently most active: #messenger, #snapchat, #must-read and our great #weekly-challenge where we gather tools and knowledge of our community on a weekly basis to share them in this Medium publication, like our first one: 13 Social Media Tools Even Social Media Pros Don’t Know Yet). We already spoke about using personas in inventing new products, the Panama Papers, best practices in Snapchat and so on. There is a discussion evolving between like-minded people in a protected space.

4. Why (on earth) should we talk about our (greatest) secrets in developing new ideas?

Well, you don’t have to. I’m well aware that in a competitive landscape, which the media industry certainly is, you want to protect your recipes once you’ve found them. That’s why most conferences lack of deep insights. Maybe it’s just a German thing, I don’t know.

But, think about this just for a second. If we talked more and more openly about what we already tried and what approaches failed, the others could save their effort for this, work on another solution — and share this with you. It saves you time and resources to talk to each other. You don’t have to figure out everything by yourself.

Why? This is something I learned from the startup scene. There are serial entrepreneurs or business angels who love to share their knowledge and give advice to young founders so they don’t have to make the same mistakes again and again. It’s this kind of spirit I love about startups. I know, that’s a great and maybe naive vision (but they say you have to have a vision once you start something). But I really believe we all can profit from sharing our ideas.

And after all, you can certainly keep your greatest secrets and just share some experience. It will inspire others — and you’ll get inspired by their knowledge.

5. Why do you have to join?

Because you know things. You already did things. And failed. Or succeeded. Nevertheless: you have experience. Or you’re just eager to share your thoughts and find new ideas in this process.

Either way: If you like to share (what you certainly do, because you’re on social media) join us. We all think that digital journalism rocks.

Now, what about you? Want to join us? Submit your email address under this link and I’ll send you an invitation to our community (of course this was the only URL that seemed legit):

www.digital-journalism.rocks

And of course we have a hashtag as well. Follow the conversation on twitter: #djrocks.

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