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Building Your Place On The Web

digital skills for journalists
The Web is a Publishing Medium

If you are someone who likes to write, and aspires to be recognized as being a ‘writer for the Web’ then you have the option of being yet another ‘Medium’ publisher, or contributor to ‘Quora’, or indeed a blogger on one of the public 3rd party platforms.But this is not the way to forge a unique writing career!

So many nascent journalists, and neo-writers waste the opportunity to build their own specific identity through deferring to other people’s media companies.

I always think that owning your media assets is way more remarkable than simply being ‘cannon fodder’ for other people’s projects, I get it that being seen to publish on the popular writing communities is valuable, but this is nowhere near as valuable as being able to build your own media identity.

Being a ‘Self hosted’ writer really is the path to building your own path.

A few core skills is all it takes, you don’t need to be a Python coder, or a ‘Full Stack’ developer in order to build a media asset which you own, and manage.

So, what are the benefits to owning your media platform?

You have the maximum rights to publish what you want to say. Terms of Service can hold some of us back, especially if what we write or say is not ‘mainstream’ or deemed ‘politically correct’.

Some of those more popular writing platforms, such as ‘Medium’ as a for-instance, tend to be operated by people who hold specific political views, and they take a dim view of anyone who does not share those views.

You do not need to be a ‘Far Right’ contrarian to provoke the ire of these Terms of Service driven platforms either, the way that PC culture is shaping up today, it does not take very much at all to trigger someone, or some group before you discover your article/vide/podcast has been de-published and your name smeared all over the interwebs!

If you happen to operate your own media platform you can publish what you deem to be suitable, and then syndicate, or distribute as widely as you wish from this location.

Take a site such as this one: iWriteBox can present videos, articles, essays, podcasts and of course ‘memes’ and graphics, I can publish whatever I determine is the right kind of content. You can learn how to build your own venture, and I will list the core skills and resources to achieve this:

The domain name is the foundation of your web presence, it represents your ‘Real Estate’ address on the WWW, we can purchase our domain name from registrars such as GoDaddy, they can be purchased for increments of years, rather like renting a name. Put some thought into your Domain name because it will identify you and provide your ‘Flag’ of operation.

There are many hosting services, I suggest you use WebStruct which is based on the Amazon Web Services infrastructure. Many people will try to get you to buy your hosting through their affiliate link, for Hostgator, or Bluehost, or Siteground, these are not ‘bad’ services but they are not ideal for journalism, or serious projects either, WebStruct is geared towards the aspiring media builder and writer, it focuses on supporting the intentions of people who are intent on building their independent media identity and resources.

This is the building material, the means to present and contain your content. We can use a wide range of options, we could even just build a raw HTML static site, but I don’t reccommend this for Media builders. WordPress content Management system is the ultimate tool for the journalist, pundit, media builder, ideas person. WordPress is ‘Full Stack’ which means it contains a stack of powerful technologies that operate in coordinated fashion, in a complimentary way to enable you to build a web media platform. 

The great advantage of using WordPress for our media platform build project is that this framework brings with it a massive range of ‘Plugins’. From Form building, to Podcasting to building pages itself. It just makes supreme good sense to use this wonderful toolkit, which is so widely supported and contributed to by excellent people, Open Source people!

You can demonstrate your value, your qualities, your contribution to the field of human knowledge and analysis, to politics, science, music, art or whatever field you have selected to operate in. With your self managed, and fully owned media platform you have the means, and the way forward to build your distinctive voice, and body of work. Talent is good, but being able to further develop your talents, and abilities is better! Always have the humility to improve, and to be open to experience. Whatever happens ‘out there’ in this crazy interweb world, you have a safe harbor and the means to build your uniqueness and brand, not to mention an original source for the content you produce that has your flag stuck in it!

Really what this article is saying to you is: Embrace the full opportunities which Tim Berners-Lee has provided for you, this WWW is a publishing medium of unprecedented scale and power. Don’t allow the deep pockets of the media moguls to intimidate you, great wealth is no substitute for the innate gifts that you possess, nobody else in the world has lived your life, or looked out of your eyes; you can build your own gig, your own media style that is totally managed and owned by you.

You also have the means to build your team, it might just be you to start out with but this can very rapidly become something much larger, and far more significant with the right attitude, and the right approach.

The gatekeepers of the legacy publishing world cannot hold you back, you don’t have to kneel in some editor’s office and solemnly swear to work towards their vision, or set of values.

The WWW is our people’s voice.

We can build, and present and globally distribute our own particular brand of media, and develop this according to our own values and political inclinations. The web is the Libertarian’s domain, the refuge of the free thinker.

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