Ask not…

I was talking with a good news exec who’s trying to build a new kind of local news product but it was only hours after I got off the phone that I figured out how I should have told him what he’s really doing.

He talked about the community helping his company build a product. He should turn that around and ask instead how he can help the community build its network.

Appropriate to the day, let’s paraphrase JFK: Ask not what your community can do for you. Ask what you can do for your community.

When this thing is built – not a product, not a company, but perhaps a network or a looser ecosystem – it will work only when and if the community owns it. That’s why this news exec must help them build it. If he expects them to help him build his thing, they won’t – they’re building their own thing instead.