Joy's Law & Disruptive Journalism

by Lewis DVorkin and Forbes, Inc.

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Forbes Model For Journalism In The Digital Age.

Have you ever heard of Joy’s Law? I had completely forgotten about it until Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes, jolted my memory. It’s named after Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems. He came up with one of those ah-ha principles that either impart science or wisdom. Here’s what Joy said about life in a fully networked world:

“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

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Have you ever heard of Joy’s Law? I had completely forgotten about it until Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes, jolted my memory. It’s named after Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems. He came up with one of those ah-ha principles that either impart science or wisdom. Here’s what Joy said about life in a fully networked world:

“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

Rich brought it up in the context of our new model for journalism. We offered smart people working for others – journalists, authors, academics and topic experts – the opportunity to build brands on Forbes.com around their name and knowledge. They complemented the smart editors and reporters already working for Forbes. “You’ve aligned Forbes to Joy’s Law and built a model that taps this big world of talent,” Rich said.

For us, it was all about Entrepreneurial Journalism. It’s a disruptive model that gained support from content creators, full-time staffers who built their own brands, digital news consumers, and marketers (more than a dozen have published content on our site or in the magazine).

I asked six Forbes contributors to share their experience about being an Entrepreneurial Journalist. Here’s what they had to say:
  • Erik Kain

His angle: “The nerd culture in the age of social media.”

Bio: Editor-in-Chief, The League of Ordinary Gentleman; freelance writer for The Atlantic and others.

“Forbes has allowed me to find success that I don’t think I ever would have found in the old model of journalism. Besides, I love to write… and will drive as much traffic as possible while still remaining honest and sincere in everything I write. This has been a really game-changing opportunity for me."



  • Chunka Mui

His angle: “I help companies design and stress-test their innovation strategies.”

Bio: Managing Director, Devil’s Advocate Group; Co-author, Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance and Billion-Dollar Lessons.”

“Consulting engagements last for months and books take years. Given the unrelenting market turmoil and technological disruption, every day’s headlines are brimming with inspirational successes and educational failures. Forbes allows me to work on a shorter clock cycle. My aim is to help readers see the non-intuitive angles, separate the hype from the reality, and draw lessons applicable to their own challenges.”

“Forbes is helping to define the future of journalism. Forbes.com demonstrates that blogging doesn’t replace journalism; blogging enhances journalism. Our challenge will be to deliver greater value, not just more page views. That will require continuing to build the community and enrich the conversation. Gresham’s Law is hard to beat.”



  • Nadia Arumugam

Her angle: “I cover food and drink from industry news to current trends.”

Bio: Former editor of Fresh, a leading UK food magazine; Contributing Editor, Fine Cooking; Freelance writer for Epicurious, TheAtlantic.com, Saveur and Slate; Her Blog, spadespatula.com; Author, Chop, Sizzle & Stir.

“Maintaining ownership of your material entails that there’s more onus on the writer to self-edit and make sure that his/her work maintains a certain standard of editorial integrity, which I really appreciate.”

“Forbes.com has enabled me to broaden my appeal beyond the niche food audience. It’s also provided me with access to sources. What I think I value most is the credibility it offers me. I can rely on it to be an arena where good writing and intelligent and thought-provoking content defines you as a writer, not the ability to post a photo of last night’s dinner!”



  • Ken Rapoza

His angle: “Anything that moves in Brazil, Russia, India and China.”

Bio: Lived in Brazil, covered all aspects of the markets for The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones.

“It keeps me in journalism working for a major, well-read brand. I average over 240,000 visitors a month. I probably have more people reading me here than I did at Dow Jones and the Journal. So those eyeballs have been important in a business that is all about networking, branding and name recognition. It allows me to make okay money working part time. I enjoy the big traffic numbers, competing with colleagues in my beat and outside of it, and seeing my articles on the home page of Forbes.com. I don’t work in the office, but I consider Forbes staffers my colleagues."

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