Making a Bet on Content

September 13, 2010
Ford Country Squire

Disclosure: This is not my family's actual station wagon

My family never trekked “up north” like other Minnesotans.

Why cram five kids into a Ford Country Squire when we could catch bass and carp in our own backyard?

The Mississippi River flowed right past our house in Anoka, where I grew up as the “baby of the family.”

Five kids sharing two bedrooms made for a hectic home. To get noticed over the din, I learned to be assertive, loud and curious.

Perhaps it’s no surprise I turned those qualities into a career. For nearly 20 years, I’ve been asking questions and telling stories.

Now I’m excited to put my skills to work at Fast Horse. This is my first day as senior director of content marketing.

Bob Ingrassia in Iraq

I reported in Iraq in 2003 for the New York Daily News

My background is journalism. I earned a degree from the University of Minnesota journalism school while working for the Minnesota Daily. I spent nearly eight years as a news reporter at the Dallas Morning News.

In 1999,  landed a job as a reporter at the New York Daily News. I got  quotes from Jerry Seinfeld, covered the funeral of mob boss John Gotti, witnessed the collapse of both World Trade Center towers and took a wild reporting trip to Iraq.

Minnesota eventually lured me home. I joined the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 2003, covering St. Paul city government and later serving as a news editor.

I leaped into the digital realm full time when I took a job as a national news editor with Internet Broadcasting in St. Paul. Last year, as a side project, I launched Newsbobber, a site that pulled together Minnesota news, blogs and social media streams.

Newsbobber

Newsbobber

The Newsbobber project led to a job with Minnesota Public Radio, where I led the development and successful launch of the Minnesota Today site.

This fall, I’m teaching a reporting class at the U of M School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Considering my résumé, the new job at Fast Horse represents a departure of sorts. Friends ask why I decided to leave journalism. Colleagues half-jokingly accuse me of crossing over to the “dark side.”

I get where they’re coming from. Journalists often cultivate an us-versus-them view of the world. They’ve got rival reporters to scoop, bureaucrats to outflank and copy editors to get past. Many reporters relish the camaraderie of the newsroom.

But I don’t see my move to Fast Horse as a break from the past. It’s an evolution of my career as a writer and communicator. The fact is that I’m still in the content business.

Jorg and I have been talking about content, marketing and storytelling for more than a year. He laid out his thoughts about expanding Fast Horse’s skill set in a recent Idea Peepshow post:

More and more brands are acting like their own media companies, and we’re placing some big bets they’ll continue to recognize that shops like ours are the ones with the expertise to help them navigate this new media landscape.

I’m liking the odds on Jorg’s bet. There’s no question that traditional models of news, marketing, entertainment and advertising have shattered in recent years. Gatekeepers are vanishing. Newspapers, TV stations, marketers, retailers, foundations, trade groups, government agencies and just about anyone else can use the same channels and devices to reach their audiences. How well are they doing it?

Fast Horse is in a great position to help pick up the pieces and build a new model for communications. I’m eager to get started.

Bob Ingrassia on Twitter

Bob Ingrassia on LinkedIn