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Innovation from within

March 17, 2014

printing press

Photo: Marion Doss (CC)

Print media has always had the talent to change from within. But it didn’t.


Many of my colleagues were adept at taking news and bringing it to the masses. But with the benefit of perfect hindsight, I recognize that a tiny handful were able to shape the future.

I looked more closely at my past life in publishing and journalism after watching (and now reading) “Moneyball.” Professional baseball also had the know-how to make itself more competitive and more profitable. But it didn’t, at least not right away.

The sport has been shaped and reshaped in two jaw-dropping ways in its 150-year existence:

  1. Professional teams selected players not based on stats but also on looks. Scouts evaluated talent like contestants at a beauty pageant.
  2. All those teams hired sabermetricians to crunch numbers in the age of PCs, and then ignored them. The overlooked innovators eventually quit one by one in frustration.

Whether in baseball or journalism or any other industry, it takes guts and vision to go beyond standard practices. I have three professionals in mind who all worked at print outfits earlier in their careers, places I have worked at as well.

They became much more influential beyond the confines of traditional journalism. I still wonder where publishing would be today had they been nurtured properly and given leeway in remaking a dying outlet from within.

In 2014, you can benefit from their guidance in social media.

Carrie RollwagenCarrie Rollwagen and I worked together for years at a daily newspaper, the Birmingham Post-Herald. She served as a copy editor, which not only included fixing stories but also laying out pages and posting editions to our website.

Today, she is co-owner of Church Street Coffee and Books here in Birmingham. And Saturday, she will lead a daylong social media and blogging workshop for small business owners at her shop.

Carrie ran this workshop earlier this year and noted that her attendees not only benefitted from her instruction but also from group collaboration. This is a terrific opportunity for startups, entrepreneurs and creatives to learn in a friendly, hands-on setting.

It’s $100, and online registration ends soon.

David GrinerDavid Griner is simply brilliant at social media strategy. I’ve seen him speak at BlogWorld (now NMX) and here in town. A long time ago, he was an intern at the Post-Herald. (Sadly, we weren’t there at the same time.) (And we, in fact, did overlap our tenures briefly.)

In the interim, he served as vice president/director of digital content at Luckie and Company, one of Birmingham’s foremost ad agencies.

David will hold his first Digital Marketing Forum on April 3 at the Hill Event Center, a full day of talks on social media and marketing. Katie Richman, ESPN’s director of social media strategy, will give the keynote.

It’s $200, and online registration ends April 3. Update March 26: From David: “Due to some unforeseen scheduling conflicts, we’ve decided to push back Digital Marketing Forum 2014 to this fall, on a date to be announced soon.”

Jen BarnettJen Barnett has been a dear friend since high school. She and I have worked together for the Birmingham Blogging Academy, but prior to that, we were colleagues at Time Inc.’s Birmingham division.

At that time, Jen worked at and the digital properties for Cooking Light, Southern Living and Health. In the past year, she has spoken at TEDx Birmingham and the Alabama Social Media Association.

Jen will be one of my featured speakers at the Y’all Connect blogging and social media conference on June 13 at the Harbert Center downtown. I know you’ll enjoy her insights on social media for retailers.

It’s $129 for regular tickets and $199 for VIP tickets. It will sell out, so register today.

The Social Media Stars of Birmingham

I featured all three experts (along with dozens more) in my book,
“The Social Media Stars of Birmingham.”
Get your free copy today.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2014 2:53 pm

    Thanks so much, Wade! Point of fact: We DID cross over at the PH for like five minutes before my internship was over. I was excited to see the features team adding some youthful energy (remember when we had that?) by bringing you on.

    Very honored to be featured alongside two of my favorite socially savvy businesswomen in Birmingham, too. Jen’s TedX presentation left me invigorated about taking more chances and not letting fear of failure keep me from experimenting.

    • March 17, 2014 3:35 pm

      That’s great! I did not realize as I was stumbling my way in to a fine institution that you were still there at the time. Now I can brag to folks that we were actual colleagues. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment.


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