News publishers, editors, journalists and content creators (whether they receive a paycheck for their work or not) now have a new platform to discuss news and news business, thanks to Ryan Ozawa. This long-time online community lover founded Masthead, a social network for media makers. The beta launched in early March.
Ozawa created Masthead utilizing Mastodon, a free, open-source social media platform created by German college student Eugen Rochko in 2016. Aside from using Mastodon as a resource, Ozawa explained that he found a webhost that specialized in the platform, making this a turnkey operation that took about a week to set up.
Ozawa works as the communications director for Hawaii Information Service, a Honolulu tech company, but admits he is a “news junkie and newsroom escapee.”
“Right now, the dial tone, the central nervous system of media people is Twitter. And I love Twitter. It’s where both news and commentary on the news business flow,” Ozawa said. “But Twitter has a lot of downsides (like) trolls, abuse and foreign disinformation campaigns. Reporters can try to have a nuanced conversation about media ethics on Twitter, but they can be interrupted, distracted or disrupted.”
This led to Ozawa posing the question: What if there was a Twitter that catered specifically to members of media as a mission?
Currently, Masthead is laying the groundwork for news discussion. To gain access to the platform, potential users must go through the application process, providing information on their outlet, primary medium and social media use.
Because the platform is just getting started, Ozawa is a one-man team but as the community grows he will seek help from those that are just as optimistic about the idea.
There is no launch date yet for the release of the official platform, but Ozawa said he would like to see about 500 or so active members signed up before opening the door completely.
“Things are so new, I’m mostly focused on finding curious creators and journalists and bringing them into the fold,” Ozawa said. “But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t daydreamed about a Masthead conference or something, where the future of journalism and how it evolves with new technology and tools is the focus.”
Ozawa is firm in his belief that journalism must move away from monolithic and monopolistic platforms if journalism is to survive.
“I want people to see the wisdom of the original vision of the web—a place where every organization, and every person, has a place to call home and an easy way to connect to others, rather than living in a few walled gardens,” he said. “Stay on Twitter, but don’t stay only on Twitter.”
For more information, visit masthead.social.