Blowing the trumpet

Please permit a bit of passion (rant?) this Friday morning.

Sometimes I think about the task ahead for local media, and I just want to scream. I heard at a conference a couple of weeks ago the analogy of a media company being a mechanic trying to fix the car while driving it at the same time, and I think that’s pretty accurate. Surely a dual path strategy is the way to go, but the inherent problem is an inertia barrier, because who has the time to give attention to something that doesn’t immediately help the bottom line? All this does is make me want to scream louder.

My frustration reaches explosive levels when little bits and pieces of new information enter my mind and mix with what’s already there. KA‐BOOM!

And so I get excited and worried at the same time. I want to tell the world what I see, but few want to listen. I come off as arrogant sometimes, because, well, I can get so far downstream that the language I use is off‐putting. I use abbreviations generally accepted by cronies but meaningless to potential clients, and it can be frustrating beyond measure. Fortunately, I’m with people now who are very helpful at keeping me on point, and for that I’m grateful.

I don’t look down my nose on anybody. If you’re doing a sensational job with local news in your market, if you’re making money, if you’re winning awards and being a sensational community citizen, if your company is thriving, if the people in your shop are happy and fulfilled, and if everything is perfect in your world, I salute you. If, on the other hand, your staff is ready to revolt, your ratings are down, your community service sucks, problems make you dread coming to work, and your company is about to go under, I salute you too.

You know why? Because, this is hard shit we do. People who sit outside the ropes and lob grenades day‐in‐and‐day‐out at the industry fail to give due props to the sincere and monumental effort that goes into being purveyors of “the news” in any community and in any form of traditional media.

I’m well aware of that, and I think that I sometimes come off like I’m not. But you see, there is only so much time to warn people about what’s ahead. I’m out here and see minefields everywhere. I shout. I scream. I’ll do anything I can to (insert metaphor here) stop the disaster that awaits those who appear — through their behavior — blind to the dangers.

I suppose it’s viewed as presumptuous of me to forecast disaster, and that the real issue is who the hell am I? Okay. Fair enough. It’s not my responsibility for you to accept what I say; it’s only my responsibility to say it. Are you beginning to understand?

Why am I in this mood this morning?

A friend wrote to ask my opinion of projections that MySpace will take 20% of internet ad revenue. Here’s one of the graphs I wrote him:

And here’s the fun part for Murdoch. It’s all built by the users. THEY are the content, and this is a lesson local media companies simply refuse to accept (“Cough, cough. But what about all the LEGAL issues, Terry. And, I mean, if anybody can post anything, it’s a bloody minefield!). And so we just sit back and watch them eat our lunch, because it’s a short distance from to
The best advice that I have for local television stations are things nobody in their Media 1.0 “right mind” could possibly accept — that to win in this new media war, you have to outthink the new media giants, like Google, Yahoo!, MSN, MySpace, and now youTube. That means entering the disruption instead of using it to prop up our fading mass market models. For example — and I truly believe this — the road to success in the local unbundled news video space is to work together (yes, with the other local stations in town) to build THE online destination for local video viewing. We simply must get into the aggregation business, because if we don’t, we’ll simply become content creators. Isn’t a portion of the ad revenue better than nothing?

“Blah, blah, blah, blah blah.” Sometimes I must sound like the adults in a Charlie Brown TV special.

“Why do we sit here until we die?” the Lepers said outside the city during a terrible famine in ancient Hebrew times. They reasoned that it was better for them to beg mercy of the attackers who were besieging the city than to simply starve to death. When they got there, they discovered an abandoned camp, one filled with bounty beyond anything they could’ve imagined.

If this makes me sound arrogant, then so be it. Like I said, I can only share the vision. It’s up to you to decide if I’m crazy.


  1. That is an excellent idea. My husband works at a local affiliate, I have connections with lots of local bloggers …

    I bet something like that would take off really quickly.

    But like you said, could the local stations get over their proprietary competitiveness to jump on board?

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