Dollars from Sense?

News is a commodity in oversupply but that abundance creates the need for sifting and sorting to put the details into context. So says one journalism guru in suggesting that “sense-making” will be the future of newspapers. I don’t run a newspaper but I am supporting a family through journalism. What does this new definition mean for people like me?

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, delivered his sense-making spiel at a conference last month. Implicit in his great suggestions aimed at news room managers are implicit lessons for you and me, the most important of which is branding. He says:

“We need to figure out what kind of news can build a brand, can define a franchise, and in which the public will find special value.”

This is the prime challenge for any journalist. If you’re not known for something then you’re a fungible asset.

Rosenstiel’s sense-making speech reminds me of the concept of the newsmaster — although I think the newsmaster is a small team or individual as opposed to an organization.

New tools like Personal Bee are creating ways to put oneself at the center of some field or topic.

Meanwhile, a great role model for the sense-making solo journalist is my buddy, Tom Foremski, a former Financial Times reporter turned SiliconValleyWatcher. His style is hyperbolic, his finances are frightening, but he’s out and about and often scoops the desk-bound, such as his recent item that blogger extraordinaire Robert Scoble is leaving Microsoft.