From the Trenches

A note from the Daily Dot’s CEO

In any company, especially in a media company and even more so in a startup, the most important decisions you make are the hiring decisions.

If you’re building the Internet’s hometown newspaper, a publication covering a community that has never been systematically covered, a community that many people don’t even recognize yet as a community, who are the people that you need?

Grant Robertson and Janet Kornblum, that’s who. Why them? In a (buzz)word: diversity. A key design principle in nature and on any effective team is creative tension. Think of the autonomic nervous system, but twitchier.

The most original thing about The Daily Dot is its subject matter, and it presents unique challenges. First off, no one’s making it easy — there are no media rooms, press releases, or police reports for where we’re going.

Secondly, unlike everyone else covering the Internet, we’re covering the people, not the technology.

Then there’s the audience — we’re a mass-market, community publication. Our newsroom needs to be as diverse as the audience. Janet and Grant have different backgrounds: gender (no duh), age, geography, education, etc. And we need to have a feel for addressing the breadth of that audience. Janet covered Internet culture for early adopters at CNET and she explained it to late adopters at USA Today. Grant lived in the bloggy world of Download Squad for four years — a period in which “app” went from geeky shorthand to a household word.

Janet has covered close-knit communities at places like the Alameda Times-Star — she knows what it’s like to write three bylines a day even if you have to chase people down the street or start dialing through the Yellow Pages to do it. Grant can write — and code! We’re only starting to explore how software written on the fly can help us report, but we know it will be critical.

Besides the challenge we’re taking on in what we cover, we’re doing it at a time when journalism is in turmoil. That’s to our advantage. We need people who bring to the table the best techniques from a range of media and yet aren’t wed to any of it. Grant is part of the blogging generation, and lived in the pageview-driven world. (For that matter, he doubled Download Squad’s numbers in the first nine months he ran the show there.) Janet has worked at six newspapers, ranging in circulation from a few thousand to millions.

But most importantly, Grant and Janet share a couple of key beliefs.

They both L – O – V – E the online community. Janet was one of the first mainstream journalists to cover MySpace and Facebook. Grant proposed to his fiancée over Twitter.

They’re both true journalists. Each possesses boundless curiosity (check out the list of Grant’s majors on his LinkedIn page) and a relentless thirst for the truth.

The key to building a great team is combining a multiplicity of voices all clamoring for the same thing. Welcome, Grant and Janet. Get clamoring!

— Nick White
CEO and Cofounder, the Daily Dot

Photo by NS Newsflash/Flickr

Nicholas White

Nicholas White

Nicholas White is the founder and editor in chief of the Daily Dot. His work has appeared in Wired, PBS, the Associated Press and elsewhere, and his reporting has been honored for excellence in journalism by the Associated Press.