Strong Language Hurled at Google From the Treehouse

Old-School Journalist Tries to Motivate Others to Embrace New World Order

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An online venture launched by a former newspaper reporter strikes a rather revolutionary tone, with an in-your-face reality check to laid-off peers who lament the end of the print era but are doing nothing to herald in a new one.

"Fuck Google. Fuck Craig's List. ... No amount of bitching will prevent Yahoo from poaching our readers nor investors from seeking bigger profits. So, let's suck it up," writes TreeHouse Media Project founder Rich Heidorn, who explains the coarse language as a marketing trick: "It was done for shock value. I tried to be provocative to lure people in."

The other aim: motivation. "There are positives to the new-media landscape. The barriers of entry are lower." As the site puts it: "For about $3,000 you can buy a Mac computer and a digital video camera that will give you all the hardware and software you need to publish your own multimedia website."

Mr. Heidorn wants to create a place for journalists to share knowledge, join forces on new media ventures and find information on how to start independent journalism websites. This fall, weeklong seminars on video and web production will be offered costing less than $1,000.

"I'm hoping we can flatten out the learning curve by grouping together," said Mr. Heidorn, who since 2002 has worked as an energy industry analyst for government. Fifty journalists have already taken an online survey, and Mr. Heidorn's inbox is full of e-mails from former colleagues.

So is Mr. Heidorn, 52, well suited to being a Moses to the masses of old-media refugees?

He's definitely battle-worn. In 1999, he left a newsroom career spanning 23 years after earning an MBA while at the Philadelphia Inquirer. He launched a series of online publishing ventures, but they imploded in the dot-com bust. A site targeting the energy-trading business came next; it went under when Enron did. "It was like stepping out of a train and getting hit by a bus," Mr. Heidorn said.
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