Am I Crazy? Or What?

"Taken from the Utah Money Watch perspective, my aim is to evaluate every idea, tip, news release, source, and pitch through one lens: Money. And if it doesn't tie-back to money, I won't report on it. It's that simple."

Am I Crazy? Or What?
Photo by giorgio-trovato-WyxqQpyFNk8 via unsplash.

Why Have I Started a "New" Media Company?  

The problem with entrepreneurs is that each, at his/her core, has to be at least a little bit crazy to start a business from scratch.

Which puts me in the funny position of calling myself "a little bit crazy" as I've gone off and done it – started a new business:

Utah Money Watch.

Should any friends or family members be keeping a scorecard, this is the third time I've dipped my toes into the journalistic waters.

My first effort was back in 2003 when I launched Utah Tech Watch as a weekly self-syndicated column focused on helping non-techies understand what was happening in, and to, the computer/tech industry of Utah.

At its height, Utah Tech Watch was carried by three local newspapers

  1. The Deseret News,
  2. The Daily Herald (in Provo), and
  3. The Enterprise (the weekly business paper headquartered in Salt Lake City).

And during its 10-year run, I wrote/published north of 500 columns of 600-800 words apiece, with Utah Tech Watch hitting an estimated 200,000+ readers per week (including pass-along readership).

Next followed Deseret Business Watch, this time an online publication, a part-time passion project that I worked on after-hours that started as a once-a-week editorial review of what I felt were the top business stories in Utah during the prior week.

Within a few months I added an in-depth feature story to the weekly mix, and both readership and subscriber numbers were starting to take off at Deseret Business Watch when Silicon Slopes came a-calling with an offer to become its publisher and editorial director.

Talk about a rush:

  • Breaking news stories,
  • OpEd pieces,
  • Feature stories,
  • Podcasts,
  • Recruiting/managing six freelance contributors and overseeing/editing their work, and (in the end),
  • Producing over 100,000 words of journalistic content during a 13-month period.

It was crazy, and fun, all at the same time. (And I'm forever grateful for the opportunity.)

But then life intervened.


So now, as I contemplate what I want to do to help contribute to the ecosystem found in this amazing State of Deseret, I realized it could all be boiled down to four words made famous by Jerry Maguire:

"Show. Me. The. Money!"

The Nexus of Utah Money Watch

I was probably working in Seattle at the time, less than half-a-dozen-years into my career, when I had an epiphany that has stuck with me ever since.

It's all about the money.

And it didn't matter if you worked for a family-owned business, a venture-backed startup, a Fortune 500 firm, an educational institution, a government entity, or even a 501(c)(3) nonprofit – if you didn't have money, you would soon be out of business. It was that simple.

Seems pretty obvious to write and read that observation right now.

But back then, that realization had a profound impact on me, in part because it meant that if what I was doing from a PR, marketing, communications, and/or messaging perspective did not have a positive impact on that enterprise, then why was I wasting that organization's time and money?

That a-ha moment has stuck with me ever since, and to be honest, it's flavored everything I've ever done for my employers or clients since then ... which leads me back to Utah Money Watch.

Technology: The Bane and Boon of Journalism

The world is a much, much different place today than it was when, as a fresh-out-of-college job seeker, I landed in Palo Alto, California in January 1984 at 80-person Tycer-Fultz-Bellack, the then-largest Ad/PR agency focused on the technology industry based west of the Mississippi River.

The very first Macintosh computer had just been introduced, but no one in our office had a personal computer. Yet.

The invention of hypertext markup language, HTML, was still five years away, as was the introduction of the BlackBerry.

The iPhone? The first version wouldn't be launched until mid-2007.

But it was the quiet introduction of a very simplistic internet service designed initially for a few friends in San Francisco just one year later in 1995 that eventually eviscerated the print publishing industry.

The culprit? Craig Newmark and his invention, Craiglist.

Up until that point, the vast majority of newspaper revenue, and even much of the revenue produced by many magazines, was generated by classified advertisements: from help wanted postings to real estate listings and legal announcements.

And then, within a few short years, almost all of the classified ad revenue was gone, lost to organizations like Craigslist, KSL Jobs, and an ever-growing list of online marketplaces and websites.

Clearly, new technological advancements ranging from the World Wide Web to Google and from Wordpress to Adobe's Creative Suite have radically transformed all industries, including journalism.

But the loss of classified ad revenue, coupled with the ability for any individual and any organization to bypass traditional media outlets to directly reach readers, viewers, and listeners meant a total transformation of the publishing industry as it had existed for decades.

And in local communities, that meant either

  • The death of local newspapers, and/or
  • The elimination of entire sections within newspapers (such as business sections).

{NOTE:  Case in point, when I arrived as a professional PR/Marketing person in Utah in 1987 there was a total of 13 full-time business journalists working for the Daily Herald (in Provo), the Deseret News, and the Salt Lake Tribune. Today, that number is two.}

In other words, the ability for anyone to stay on top of the latest business news and information throughout Utah has been severely hamstrung over the past decade or two.

The 5Ws and 1H of Utah Money Watch

Every journalist, and everyone who has ever taken a class in journalism, knows that there are always (at least) six questions to address in every story:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why? and
  6. How?

Taken from the Utah Money Watch perspective, my aim is to evaluate every idea, tip, news release, source, and pitch through one lens: Money.

And if it doesn't tie-back to money, I won't report on it. It's that simple.

But to be clear, the intent is to report on every nook and cranny of the state of Utah: from Tremonton in the north to St. George in the south, and from Wendover on the west to Vernal on the east.

And as shown in the heading on the home page, everything has been boiled-down into 12 main topic categories:

  1. Education,
  2. Energy,
  3. Finance,
  4. Food,
  5. Government,
  6. Health,
  7. Property,
  8. Sales + Marketing,
  9. Services,
  10. Technology,
  11. Something I call TORA (Travel, Outdoor, Recreation, and Athletics), and
  12. Miscellaneous,

along with the occasional column, editorial, opinion piece, and/or a deep-dive analytical report.

So, presuming you've made it this far, thank you. Here are my closing thoughts.