One door closes, another door opens

by Mathew on January 9, 2010 · 86 comments

I have to confess that I’ve been sitting here for a long time, looking at a blank screen, trying to figure out what to say in this post. Getting to the point is easy: as some readers probably already know, I’ve decided to leave the Globe and Mail to become a senior writer with the GigaOm blog network, which is run by my good friend Om Malik (who has written a blog post about my joining the company here).

That’s the short version. The long version, of course, is somewhat more complicated. The part about joining GigaOm is easy to explain — I’ve been a fan of Om’s ever since I discovered his blog in 2005 while he was still working for Business 2.0 magazine, and came to like him even more when we had him at our very first mesh conference in Toronto in 2006. He doesn’t hesitate to shoot down popular perceptions, and when he speaks his mind it is always worth paying attention to, even if (and in fact especially when) you disagree with him about something.

Over the past few years, Om and his team have put together what I think is one of the world’s premier technology blog networks, one that has a well-justified reputation for thoughtful and intelligent reporting and analysis, something that has become even more of a necessity as the Web has filled up with fast-food style news hits. I’m honoured to have been asked to join GigaOm, and to work with its terrific writers. It feels like the first day of school and I get to sit with the cool kids :-)

That said, I would be lying if I said that leaving the Globe and Mail after 15 years isn’t difficult (I’ve actually been working for the Globe for almost two decades, if you count my time at the Financial Times of Canada, which was owned by the Globe when I started working there in 1991). Despite my excitement at joining GigaOm, leaving somewhere after that length of time is never easy. And working at the Globe was a dream of mine ever since I graduated from journalism school.

There are plenty of things I’m not going to miss about working at the Globe, particularly in its ancient Front Street headquarters — including the often underwhelming cafeteria (not the fault of Bozenna, the world’s nicest cashier), as well as the world’s slowest elevator, the moldy carpeting, a distinct lack of windows and a lighting system that wouldn’t look out of place in a run-down 1960′s suburban rec room.

What I will miss is working with some of the finest journalists anywhere, a group of relentlessly smart and talented (and in many cases charmingly eccentric) reporters and editors, who manage to turn out a great newspaper every day under incredible pressure. On the Web side, I will miss the tremendously resourceful group of writers and editors who do the same under even more time pressure, with a deadline every minute, and manage to juggle several jobs, and some balky technology.

I want to make it clear (in part because a bunch of people have asked) that I’m not leaving the Globe because I think newspapers are dead, or because I think the Globe is going under, or anything of the sort. I think it’s pretty obvious by now that the newspaper industry is going through a tremendous upheaval, a clash of evolutionary forces that will cause some to expire and others to thrive. I think — and hope — that the Globe is well positioned to be one of the entities that can adapt to those forces, and in fact it has already gone some distance towards doing that.

Evolution is a messy business, however. And changing the tools that people use is not the hard part — changing the way people think and the culture they work in is the hard part (in some cases, it may even be impossible). And doing that while you are still operating a traditional legacy business, one that still provides the bulk of your revenue, makes it even harder (the old saying about “building an airplane while flying it” comes to mind). The Globe has made some progress in that department, and is making more every day, but there is still much left to do.

Part of me is sorry that I won’t be around to help the Globe continue to make that transition. I can’t say that it hasn’t been frustrating at times, because it has, especially the seemingly endless meetings and debates over policies and procedures — not to mention the fear and uncertainty that often underlie them — that can get in the way of journalists engaging with readers in a real and human way. I happen to believe that doing this isn’t just a “nice to have” feature, but is a crucial part of what journalism is now (a point I tried to make in my TEDxTO talk back in September).

Those battles are someone else’s to fight now, although I will be happy (and may even feel compelled) to provide advice from afar. Instead, I have the good fortune to be moving to an organization that doesn’t have to worry about legacy print products and declining revenues — an entity that is Web only, is growing rapidly, and has social media woven in and out of the very fabric of the company. A nice change :-) Onward!

  • http://twitter.com/ettagirl ettagirl

    congratulations! and i second your sentiments re: Bozenna. absolutely the world's nicest cashier. miss her!

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks, Scott

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks a lot, Henrietta

  • paulbenedetti

    Congrats Matthew.
    The Globe's loss.
    Paul Benedetti

  • http://solyoung.com Sol Young

    Well said. I look forward to reading your work at GigaOM.

  • turning49

    Despite all the gracious comments you've made about the Globe, which I've been reading since I was a kid (let's just say that was QUITE some time ago) I think it's very telling that they let you get away. They've not yet even made it easy to find the tech blogs and cutting-edge material…that being said, the online Globe far outdoes the other large newspaper in Canada's largest city, whose recent website remake has resulted in, well, a mess.

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks, Paul.

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks, Sol.

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks — I agree there is much room for improvement at both :-)

  • karimkanji

    Congratulations Mathew! All the best. Look forward to continually learning from you. I hope you still find the time to blog here.

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks, Karim — I'll certainly do my best.

  • dbradfield

    What an exciting move! Best of luck. I remember the discussion you moderated with Om at the first mesh conference so clearly.

  • http://twitter.com/thornley Joseph Thornley

    Mathew, I'm late reading your post. But I have to tell you that the GigaOm feed is in the Must Read folder in Google Reader. As is mathewingram.com/work. So, this is great news. One of my favourite journalists joining one of my favourite blogs. And even better, bringing a Canadian perspective to a widely read, highly respected tech blog. A great move for GigaOm. A great move for you.

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks a lot, Joe. That's very kind of you to say.

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks, David.

  • http://wow.jules.ca/ julie kivell

    Holy Cats.
    Congratulations and great luck on your new adventures!
    You certainly are sitting with the cool kids!
    I look forward to reading you at GigaOm!!

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks a lot, Julie.

  • http://journalistopia.com/ Danny Sanchez

    Matthew, huge congratulations on your new gig! Hope you have a blast!

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks a lot, Danny.

  • cynthiabrumfield

    Mathew,

    Congrats! GigaOm is a phenomenon that I've followed and envied ever since Om got it off the ground. I've followed and envied Om himself for far longer than that. Good choice and look forward to reading your great stuff on Om's site.

  • http://www.consumersaware.com/ Carico

    What an exciting time for you! congrats on your new opportunity. You may have worked for globe for a long time but it will be so good to have change. Your mind will become sharper and your opportunities will widen. Best of luck to you!

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, Cynthia — I've been a fan for a long time too.

  • http://electric-log-splitter.blogspot.com/ alexx

    Congratulations to you for your big decision moving to GigaOm and Good luck with your new working environment, it really a big missing on Globe site.

  • http://www.toejeksperten.dk/ Toej

    Always think before the decision but once you decided then never give it a second thought, there is always a third way, when you dont find a way to escape look at the sky, either you will see the sky or you get some help from the One living in the skies.

  • http://savethemedia.com/ Gina Chen

    good luck on your new endeavor!

    Totally can relate to your send-off. Much the way I felt leaving newspapers after 20 years. Bittersweet.

    But starting a new chapter can be fun, challenging, scary, and worth it.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks a lot, Gina.

  • jeffreydvorkin

    Matthew – as I said on J-Source, no matter how elegantly it is phrased, it is a loss for the Globe. You have some of the better ideas about how legacy and social media must interact for both to survive. We haven't heard the last from you. Best of luck.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks a lot, Jeff — much appreciated.

  • http://twitter.com/andrew_goodman Andrew Goodman

    Good to see you last week Mathew, and all the best with this new direction. As a great man sang recently: Long May You Run.

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks a lot, Andrew — and thanks for being so nice about me taking over your office :-)

  • http://www.onlinemediacultist.com Eric Berlin

    Congratulations Mathew! I'm sure making the jump was a difficult but exciting decision. I wrote for Web Worker Daily while “between careers” in the spring, had a great experience, and was really impressed and humbled by the talent there and throughout the GigaOM network.

  • http://twitter.com/mathewi Mathew Ingram

    Thanks a lot, Eric. I've been really impressed as well. Om has put together a great team.

  • Mike Bowen

    Always enjoyed your writing. Sorry to see you leave the G&M. Best of luck in your new endeavour.

  • http://firstpagegoogleresults.com/ home builders website

    I am afraid I will be unable to post until next week as my computer is going to the Laptop

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