Pre-conference interview with Mark Briggs

Conversationalist 1: Mark Briggs

Conversationalist 2: Liz Monteiro

Mark Briggs is an entrepreneurial journalist who along with others recently started Serra Media. He is the sole journalist on the team and the others include web and software developers and business development.  The company is developing platforms for local newspaper publishers to allow them to do “better and sustainable journalism.’’ Mark spoke of a specific product called news garden which is social mapping for news where information is loaded onto a map and presented online. In one case, a reader posted information on an issue, specifically a stench in his community coming from a local wood company when he couldn’t get a reporter to do a story. The newspaper did the story after the posted information appeared.

Mark is the former assistant managing editor for Interactive News at The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington. Mark is also currently working on updating his book, Journalism 2.0.

Mark is attending the conference because he wants to continue to have the discussion on the future of journalism and how to use technology to make better journalism with other like-minded individuals.

As a participant at this conference, Mark will bring his entrepreneurial mindset, his idea of sustainability to the table. Just as journalists often ask “what does it mean to the reader?” Mark said his perspective includes “what does it mean to the end user, the customer?’’

Mark suggests that journalism has worked in a vacuum for too long. It’s time to “get rid of the wall” between journalism and the business side of the operation. In this new reality, they must work hand-in-hand, he says. Newspapers had a monopoly on distribution and journalists didn’t have to care about the business side of things; now, a more holistical approach is needed.

Mark says readers have a low level of trust for traditional media. Social and digital media allows journalists to “come out from behind our bylines” and connect with readers. This is a move towards transparency and interacting with the reader, contributing to the community, rather than preaching to it, he says.


Since 2000, Mark has been trying to make sense of social and digital media and trying to use it to create better journalism. I admire Mark’s courage to go forward into an area that still has many unknowns. Here, in Canada, I think newspapers, and other media, have been slow to embrace new technologies, compared to our counterparts in the States. I also admire Mark and his pursuit of innovation in journalism by leaving the News Tribune and starting Serra Media.

Stand-out quote: Social and digital media allows journalists to “come out from behind our bylines” and connect with readers. Mark admits he’s just repeating a quote from a colleague that grabbed him. I still like it.

About Peggy Holman

Peggy Holman supports organizations and communities to uncover creative responses to complex challenges using innovative engagement processes. The Change Handbook, co-authored with Tom Devane and Steven Cady, documents many such processes. The book is the considered the definitive resource for leaders and consultants working to increase resilience, agility, and collaboration in organizations and other social systems. Peggy co-founded Journalism that Matters in 2001 with three journalists to support the pioneers who are shaping the emerging news and information ecology. Peggy’s latest book, Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity, supports people facing disruptions to invite others to join them in realizing new possibilities.
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