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In Journalism, the First Word Is Submission

One of our best publishers, Om Malik of Gigaom, started as a simple blogger. When Michael Arrington was pushed from TechCrunch by AOL (AOL), he had enough contacts to become a venture capitalist. Robert Scoble, one of the most influential people in the sector, is technically an employee of a vendor, Rackspace (RAX).

So Walt and Kara have choices. They get the chance to determine what color their parachute is going to be. They are going to be taking part in a lot of meetings over the next few weeks, and likely have already had some with folks anxious to back their next venture.

The best advice is to decide what you want to be. No matter what you do, once you decide to go into business for yourself, you're in business. You're hiring other people to do what you want to do, rather than doing it yourself.

That means you either go inside the business and drive its strategy, or represent the business to the outside world, like Charles Schwab (SCHW) represents his business and Jim Cramer represents TheStreet.com (TST). If you choose to be Cramer, find a great business executive to actually run the business, someone who knows the nuts-and-bolts of your industry, and pay that person what he or she is worth.

Rather than acting like they've been fired, in other words, Walt and Kara will be looking for a business partner who understands publishing, who has a strategic sense, who is honest, and who can keep the trains running on time.

That will mean a lot more to them than money. Lots of people have money. They need a business partner who will be committed.

The quality of their next business partner will determine whether The Journal has just done what publishers do or whether it has just made a huge mistake. That's a big lesson for anyone.

At the time of publication, the author had no shares in companies mentioned here.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and a tech reporter since 1982. His specialty has been getting to the future ahead of the crowd, then leaving before success arrived. That meant covering the Internet in 1985, e-commerce in 1994, the Internet of Things in 2005, open source in 2005 and, since 2010, renewable energy. He has written for every medium from newspapers and magazines to Web sites, from books to blogs. He still seeks tomorrow from his Craftsman home in Atlanta.
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