Late last year, amid a torrent of news stories about alt-weeklies crumbling, NYU media professor Jay Rosen wrote this: “A good question to ask of a digital media company: What does it stand for?”

“Can’t answer? Watch your wallet.”

Rosen linked to this story about Mashable’s own descent into the fire, which leads off with a warning against “jack-of-all-trades” publishing strategies.

I’ve learned a lot in the last seven years of journalism, and one lesson that burns brightly is the importance and vitality of consistent beat reporting — of honing your focus and learning deeply. This is immersive creativity and knowledge in its simplest form in journalism, and it’s what I’ve loved most about this line of work.

Most digital media companies don’t seem to agree.

But that problem — which will bear out a reckoning for any company unwilling to state what it stands for — that problem can also afflict an individual person. It’s important to question and examine your own life, your health, your relationships, your financial security, your values.

It’s easy to consider this stuff now, as the new year dawns, but it seems like a lot of people slip quickly back into the slipshod cultural stream of consciousness. Best not to rest too easily in these strange times.

What do you stand for?

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