Yahoo!: A Change Agent At Work


About a month ago, the Economist published an article about Yahoo!’s schizophrenic nature as a company. Yahoo!’s history as an Internet pioneer moved me to christen them as a change agent for Web 2.0—the complete opposite of a flaky AOLish operation.

Well, those wacky Yahooligans are off their meds again. God bless ’em.

In a few weeks, Yahoo! plans on releasing In the Hot Zone, a first person, solo journalism (SoJo) effort by Kevin Sites, who’ll cover the most war torn areas of the globe; areas which receive little to no mainstream coverage in the US. Here’s a taste of the Yahoo! approach:

Our Principles:

We will be aggressive in pursuing the stories that are not getting mainstream coverage and we will put a human face on them. We will not chase headlines nor adhere to pack journalism but vigorously pursue the stories in front of and behind the conflict, the small stories that when strung together illustrate a more complete picture.

We are professional journalists and will apply to our work the ethical code of conduct as outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists:

  • To seek and report the truth.
  • To minimize harm.
  • To act independently.
  • To be accountable.

We strongly believe, as stated in the preamble of this code, “that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.”

We also will add four more criteria to our work that will take us above the journalistic code. We also pledge in our reporting and storytelling:

An honest and authentic accounting of both our failure and successes, to pull back the curtain on our editorial and technological process. We refuse to propagate the myths of the omniscient, infallible correspondent.

We will strive to live, breathe, and experience the lives of the people we are covering — including the daily dangers they’re exposed to from combat, disease, and hardship.

We may not always agree with our sources, but we will make every effort to understand their positions and report them with clarity, so that our audience may have context and perspective.

Our site will contain links to organizations and groups that are working to aid victims of these conflicts and assist in their peaceful resolutions.

Will Yahoo! succeed in this venture? I don’t know, but it really doesn’t matter, because by just making this announcement, Yahoo! has already set the tone for alternative news reporting in a mainstream, internet portal format. Even if they fail in the tactical attempt based on any number of conflicts (remember the Chinese reporter incident?) more sites will undoubtedly take on the challenge and pick up the baton running. A change agent, when all is said and done, is about the change. Steering change through it’s evolutionary course isn’t necessary the goal.

Yahoo! is leading at the point where Web 2.0 crosses over into the real world. Sweet.