In 2006, there were many nights spent in the library combing the internet, books, newspaper clippings, and other sources for my senior thesis at the University of Montana. It is now 2016, and somehow, I keep going back to that paper that I wrote, which was titled “Technology and the Future of Journalism.” There was a lot of information that I dug up that pointed to the world of media, technology, and journalism that we encounter today, whether it was the beginning stages of online subscription models for news organizations, the fall of print, or the general abundance of information, I kept seeing technology advance in the same direction I predicted. I just couldn’t keep this to myself anymore, because the more I looked back at this paper, the more I thought about what still was yet to come based on my predictions.
As I looked back a decade, I realized that publishing this research paper as a book could provide insight into the rapid advancement of technology over the past decade and prevent critics of technology in the journalism world from making the same mistakes twice.
So how did I do it?
Just like internet has become more accessible to individuals to be publishers through their own blogs and websites, the publishing industry has also been disrupted by Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platforms. While the platform is less than intuitive, a bit of messing around allows you to figure out how exactly to format, what information to include, then I ended up taking things to Fiverr. The original version that I had was marked up and in need of some editing TLC, so I was able to find a reputable, US-based individual to help me edit the book. She also happened to specialize in Kindle eBooks, so she was able to then ensure the formatting worked properly, the necessary Amazon requirements were in place, and within about 72 hours, my Fiverr editor had the revised text back to me. While the pitch is that all tasks are $5, this is usually at the very basic level, and while I could have a non-native English speaker in somewhere like Vietnam edit my book, I ended up paying up, so it was around $50 based on the number of words in the text.
Next step, I did a final clean up and read through myself, just to make sure it was up to my own liking, while I took to Fiverr for round two. I needed a book cover. I do have a graphic design and art background, but as I played with fonts, illustrations, and colors, I realized I was going to spend far more time on this than I wanted. So I just browsed Fiverr to see what was out there, not fully committed yet. Immediately, I found someone that would help me design my cover, including a 3d version, should I convert it to a print version in the future, and provide the PSD. Total cost was $15 and he had the cover turned around by the time I woke up, since he was overseas. I had the ability to make revisions, but when I saw his previous work, I knew he already had my vision, so it was quick and painless. I was dumbfounded.
The final step was putting the pieces together, so I uploaded the new cover. I then uploaded the text and needed to make a few small tweaks to the source document for formatting, but after the editing had been complete, it was pretty much ready to go straight from the Microsoft Word document. I created a description, selected the appropriate categories, assigned some unique keywords that the title and description might not cover, then decided on my pricing structure.
The pricing structure can be confusing as you can go into certain programs to give you more commission, but less publicity, or vice versa. Then there are the rights that you give up if you go for one channel against another, where they retain the exclusive rights to sell the book, which means you can’t even sell it independently through your own website (hence why I need to link to Amazon here).
In the end, I made the decisions, and the last step was hitting the submit button and I was done. Really, it was that easy. I waited maybe 8-10 hours before Amazon had reviewed it for both content and formatting, then they approved it and I was already selling in the Amazon store.
I now invite you to read my new Kindle book, and hopefully the feedback will be strong enough that I’ll write part two, which will explore the future of journalism into the next decade.
I’ve included a sneak peek of the first page below (originally written in 2006, published 2016):
It is 2014 and the New York Times officially removes itself from the World Wide Web to market itself as a newsletter for the elite and the elderly. Googlezon, a hybrid media source that has combined Google’s personalized news service with Amazon’s personalized online marketplace, has taken over the world of media by using a new computer algorithm that tailors each news story to its reader by extracting facts and quotes from a variety of sources and uses a mixture of editors, including the preferences of the user’s friends, to create a front page of headlines for each user.
Meanwhile, Amazon uses its customized shopping network to provide advertising targeted at each user’s interests and preferences. The service utilizes citizen journalists, who have the ability to submit stories or pictures and are paid a percentage of the advertising revenue based on the popularity of their contributions. The news delivery service becomes known as EPIC, the Evolving Personalized Information Construct.
The New York Times’ failure to tackle Googlezon’s method of stripping and combining stories through search engines in the Supreme Court stirs debate on the new media, saying it is empty and ineffective.
Debate on the lack of journalistic ethics also arises, but no one thinks about it before it is too late. The scenario presented in EPIC 2014, which debuted online in November of 2004 by Poynter Institute staff members Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson, is a flash movie that spawned from conversations the two had on a trip to Miami about new media and the public’s participation in journalism and the future.
If iPods are any indication of the rate of technology development, EPIC 2014’s predictions about journalism’s future may be here sooner than we think.
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