Josh Marshall: “A More Vibrant and Diverse News Ecosystem”

Josh Marshall, creator of Talking Points Memo blog, delivered a keynote lecture during the 2008 Ithaca College Izzy Awards.

During the Izzy Award lecture, Marshall spoke about the growth of Talking Points Memo and the importance independent media has on “single news organizations that have something close to a monopoly.”

By giving a perspective that other news publications are not covering, independent media websites like Marshall’s Memo, which began in 2000 as a blog with one writer.

Over the years the blog gained enough readership to begin special projects. In 2003, Josh Marshall obtained an idea form a blogger named Duncan Black, that with the amount of viewership Talking Points Memo, Marshall could ask for money from readers. 

He would ask for enough money to “cover the New Hamphire primary,” but he received more than enough money at almost $7,000 to cover the primary and shut off donations after 24 hours.

Remind yourself, this was accomplished at the time solely by Marshall himself. Since then, the blog has added about a dozen other journalists and have changed the system in which they produce content.

Now readers are not just fruitful financial donors, but they are also contributing content from their local districts that writers from the Memo cannot obtain directly. The website calls the system “iterative journalism”, which draws on readers’ knowledge to break stories.

“The more voice you have, the more takes on the news, you’re just going to have  more vibrant and diverse news ecosystem – as opposed to having two or three gatekeepers that control the news.”

Marshall’s more than a decade in the independent media spotlight has proven two things: One, that when readers want specific media investigated, they will pay for it. And two, in order to find success in independent media, a journalism niche is essential to success.


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