Cracked the Code

photo 2Just returned from a fabulous conference in NY for women digital news entrepreneurs. Cracking the Code was sponsored by the International Women’s Media Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Had to cut out a little early, but what I saw was refreshing, enlightening and diverse. Get the full flavor by checking the Twitter stream under #Code15.

If it seems corny to call it “Success for Women Digital News Entrepreneurs,” I would disabuse yourself of that thinking. It WAS about success; no looking back to why it was so hard and more looking forward to how to replicate it. No wah wah wah woe is me.

I took lots of notes, but instead will just share some one-liners that keep drifting to the top of my event memory. (The speaker/panel list was awesome, ranging from Amy Webb, CEO of WebbMedia and Ferai Chideya of everything to Mariana Santos, founder of Chicas Poderosas and director of Interactive and Animation at Fusion.)  As my seatmate noted at an afternoon panel, this is where Buzzfeed and Huffington Post and MediaBistro were the mainstream organizations in a room full of orgs like News Deeply, Nonny de la Pena’s Emblematic Group and Elmira Bayrasli’s much-heralded Foreign Policy Interrupted.

Some takeaways:

… Webb asked us to think less about scale and more about impact; she insisted we put audience before device …WBEZ shared the value of asking your listeners what they want; the responses changed the narrative (people wanted history, for example) … The co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted said that women should stop worrying about being perfect experts before accepting an offer to appear on TV because she said men just dive in …

There was a definite argument for the subscription model from the founder and EIC of one depending on it, The Information … One of my fave speakers (she honors my class with a lecture every semester) was Mandy Jenkins of Storyful who says the career path has changed; working in journalism is not a ladder “but a jungle gym.”…

… Laura Amico of Homicide Watch (on the panel called “The Rise of Single Subject News Sites”), told entrepreneurs to consider 1) what is success 2) how is it measured and 3) what is your exit strategy … Shazna Nessa, Knight’s new director of journalism and formerly of AP said on a panel about “intrapreneurs” that what worked for her was “patience … ” … There was talk of checking one’s “unconscious bias” to making sure “men are part of the solution” to just being smart about business.

Overall, it was a beautiful event with effective “ignite talks” and plenty of time to schmooze. I’m going to borrow some ideas.