Fourth Estate

Entrepreneurial spirit is sweeping the industry. Too bad the promotional language is so cliched.

Newspapers displayed on a stand in London in 2012. Recently, an entrepreneurial spirit has taken over journalism. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Opinion by JACK SHAFER

01/14/2022 01:15 PM EST

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Jack Shafer is Politico’s senior media writer.

The entrepreneurial spirit rages beneath the breastbone of your average journalist, rivaled in intensity only by his scorn for his bosses. Scratch him and he’ll bleed a gusher of ideas for the brilliant magazine, a breakthrough website, a must-listen podcast or even the revolutionary newspaper that he would launch if only the hacks and dullards clogging the news landscape would absent themselves and some venture capitalist would endow him with a payload of startup cash.

But the mission statements and manifestos these media visionaries compose upon starting their new thing rarely breaks fresh ground. Instead, they retreat to well-grooved cliches handed down, it seems, from earlier visionaries who were handed them by even earlier visionaries. Sometimes it feels like cliches all the way down. They vow to cut through the infoglut. “Stories are too long. Or too boring,” they complain. There’s too much news regurgitation and not enough attention paid to what matters. The existing press fails to “explain the news.” And there’s too much clickbait out there.

Latest to peddle a shopworn journalistic mission statement are the founders of Grid News. While we wish them and all new entrants great success in their new enterprise — the journalistic arts have yet to reach perfection and we believe the world needs more journalists not fewer — they haven’t articulated a unique message for their product.

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