By Marina Savchenko

How to Start a Media Project? What are global media trends? How to establish the global platform enabling media outlets and companies to find, hire and manage media professionals around the world? Justin Varilek have all the answers.

HackPack from Marina Marina on Vimeo.

Here are interesting tips and tricks for young media startup founders by Justin Varilek:

  • To inspire others you should be yourself inspired by your project.
  • Practicing, practicing and practicing. You should rehearse your presentation at least five times to be 100% sure.
  • Ways to earn money: Branded content, Local expertise, Translation, Access to community, Events, Paywall.
  • Journalism has never been feasible economically. People earn money producing side content and then add journalism into it.
  • Questions for an elevator pitch: What is it? Who is it for? What’s it do?
  • Prioritize! It’s all about figuring out what’s the most important information

Justin, how would you define journalism in the digital age?

Journalism is all about analyzing and understanding what is happening in relation to other events throughout time and clearly portraying them for the public to make educated decisions. And I don’t mean just political journalism, but this can apply to sports, arts and entertainment, gossip articles, investigative reports, video documentaries and more. In so much, journalism itself has suffered in the digital age as less and less publications are paying for analysis and understanding. In fact, they’ve largely fired the majority of journalists who possessed the experience necessary to provide that fuller picture. Instead they have focused on cheap and high quality content. Thankfully more and more publications are realizing that quality content sells no matter what and are shifting back. So I personally don’t think the definition of journalism has changed with the digital age, simply publishers have gotten lost in how to fund journalism and what type of content truly sells.

What kind of challenges young media makers and journalists face today?

The number one challenge is financial. How to produce great stories and still fund your rent. More and more people want control over what stories they create as well as to earn enough money to live well off of. This isn’t easy as a freelancer as it takes time to build up connections with editors and producers who trust you and your story ideas and when you work full-time, you really are at a whim of what the publishers believe will ‘sell’.
The largest challenge in that is the ability to handle instability, persevere and do what you love. It is very easy to fall into expected career routes as they are clear and many people do them. However, those cookie cutter options rarely provide as much fulfillment or experience as trusting in yourself and creating your own path. It’s just important to remember that when you create your own path, you’ll get scratched quite a bit.

How do you see the in 10 years?

What I’d like to see is a full global community of media professionals supporting each other. HackPack team members in at least 50 countries organizing local events ad developing local communities, journalists able to travel to any country and able to find a local journalist to get a drink with and collaborate on a project, and every month journalists earn over $500,000. It’d be great to see HackPack as the tool helping journalists build that community that they’ve lost with disappearance of the newsrooms. Online groups to talk with, the ability to promote story ideas and match with publications and companies around the world to produce stories and be financially independent.

About: Justin Varilek is the CEO and founder of, the global platform enabling media outlets and companies to find, hire and manage media professionals around the world. Currently the community covers 140 countries with over 8000 journalists, photographers and videographers. He previously worked as a journalist at The Moscow Times and helped found the communications department for Skoltech, a global university established in collaboration with MIT in Moscow. He has also rebuilt the US press office for Acronis, a global software company.



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