Birth of a Startup, pt. 1 (5/30)

So, instead of WTHX today, I’ll summarize why the hell I’ve been making these oddly formatted, politically focused posts.

…oh, what the hell. I’ll do it in the WTHX format while I’m at it. This’ll be a rough draft of our future PR piece, I guess.

Thoughtscream Media was, on one hand, birthed in an instant. An online discussion between Sean McBurney and James Chen meandered to a mutual dissatisfaction with the state of modern media – between the legal bullying of the RIAA and MPAA, the swift decline of the printed media empires, and especially the lack of representation of the so-called Geek Demographic. Thoughtscream Media – the name and web address of which Chen already owned at the time – was thus concocted as a response to all three issues.

On the other hand, Thoughtscream Media was perhaps long in coming. These issues didn’t come out of the woodworks in all of a night. The problems with media and representation has persisted for as long as they’ve known. And Chen, having worked on a journalism degree at the time, was very much invested in the developing ideas of New Media at the time.  The inclusion of Shea Clifford, the technical cofounder of Thoughtscream Media, helped solidify over time all the discontent into an actual course of action.

On the gripping hand, sudden or prolonged, there was no better time to found Thoughtscream – and plenty of worse times, past and future. The news industry will wisen up eventually – the question is whether or not we can beat them to the punch.

Why are you making these oddly formatted posts in the first place?

WTHX, or “What the Hell X?” with X being a placement variable for any subject at hand, was formulated to address a consistent concern amongst our international – and even domestic – peers: newspapers suck at context. The lockstep monomaniacal approach to event and development coverage gives plenty of information specifically about the subject… but routinely fails at enlightening a non-native (and often even local) readers as to the background, the importance, the consequences, et al.

Thus, WTHX, whose entire rationale is to fill that absence of context. Which sounds easy enough, up until you realize that a story’s context is many, many times bigger than itself – no matter how big the story.

WTHX’s format must therefore have a number of key features: it must be laid out in such a way that the information’s easily processed (summary, question 1, question 2), it must be pithy enough to delivery max information value without losing the reader’s interest (and who wants to read a wall of text anyhow on their coffee break?), and it must be easily expandable. Plans are in place to convert it further with a wiki-like backend – followup WTHXs on issues would then have their questions archived in an easy-to-track wiki page, with summaries of ongoing events updated as we go along.

We mean to give context – all of it, as thoroughly as possible. Because the whole reason for journalism is to give the literate individual the information they need to function, whether on a daily basis, as a voter, or as a human being in general.

So, what, is this just Yet Another Link Blog?

…if it wasn’t me writing this, I’d be a touch insulted. But, no. This is not just another link aggregate. Not only is there a strict use of human-written and edited narrative to elicit the context (because, even if pithy is a virtue in a writer, tweetlike sentences don’t do context justice), but while most WTHXs thoroughly cross-link other sites, there is all the intent in the world to generate original material in the form of research, interviews, on-the-ground factfinding, even videoblogs.

This is a journalism venture. First and foremost.


~ by Gonzo Mehum on November 6, 2009.

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