Catching up with the news

I’ve been extremely lax in making blog entries lately, and the only thing I can say is that I’m absolutely swamped with stuff I get paid to do. I know. I know. Lame.

And it’s been such a great few days for material, too.

Here we find that NBCU — the guys who just can’t seem to get it right, IMO — is “quietly organizing a new council of ad agency research, strategy and media buying executives that will develop and field primary research that helps move the media marketplace forward.” I’m not sure what moving the media marketplace forward means, but the idea of this council is another example of the public masturbation that is old media responding to new.

To use my (by this time tired) analogy, this is like the whale oil industry summoning the best minds it has to come up with a plan to move whale oil forward when the whole world is moving to electricity.

The story linked above refers to this as the latest in a series of what it calls “third-party funded” research initiatives, but the third parties are all within the paradigm that’s being disrupted.

And, once again, the folks at Google close their office doors and smile.

Meanwhile, there’s this, ta-da, bulletin from the Project for Excellence in Journalism that’s best articulated in a headline reference from Romenesko: “The news looks different when non-journos select the stories.” Who knew?

Actually, this is a pretty interesting read, although nothing here will come as a surprise to regular readers here.

If a new crop of user-news sites—and measures of user activity on mainstream news sites—are any indication, the news agenda will be more diverse, more transitory, and often draw on a very different and perhaps controversial list of sources…The question of whether citizens define the news differently than professionals is becoming increasingly relevant.

Indeed, it is, and it’s ripping the foundation out from under the media élite.

Here’s a great line from a San Francisco Chronicle article on the subject:

“The traditional news outlet wants to put a lot of gravitas on their front page. They want the readers to eat their spinach,” said Kourosh Karimkhany, general manager of Wired Digital, which owns Reddit. Technology allows users to create their own news “agenda” from multiple online sources, rendering a traditional front page increasingly “irrelevant,” he said.

This is something the folks in traditional media simply cannot bring themselves to accept about the path of new media. To accept would be to reject the model that’s sustained the industry for the last century, but to do otherwise is the path to the tarpits. Not an easy choice.

Meanwhile, Jack Feuer writes a heartfelt piece reflecting back on 9/11 that contains a graph that bears response:

We are inundated with media choices that seduce us with entertainment, ply us with information, supply use with endless ways to push-pull, opt-in, interact and network. We call it a revolution. But it’s not. The options are just choices. The channels are just toys. It doesn’t matter if we’re five, 15 or 75. When we are threatened, when the world goes mad, when we are desperate to connect, we don’t log on to MySpace. We turn on the television.

This is certainly true, but there are a couple of caveats. One, we can “watch” live coverage of events on our computers today in ways that we couldn’t six years ago. Two, blockbuster news events aren’t everyday fare, and attempts to elevate “regular” news to blockbuster status are what’s wrong with the whole 24/7 news channel concept. These events cost money instead of making it, because advertising is the first thing to go. The problem for television isn’t real breaking news. It’s what happens when the break is over.

Meanwhile, Bob Garfield (of NPR fame) shares his chilling account of dealing with Comcast as a consumer. This is really a good read.

Finally, somebody has finally sued AT&T(Cingular) for the ridiculous claim that they have fewer dropped calls than anybody else.

Back to the grind. Aloha.


  1. I can’t help but think this is just the latest old media attempt to marginalize citizen journalism and new media and conflate/confuse it with user generated content.

    They are not the same thing. There are lots of people who practice real journalism online and via blogs that give traditional news outlets a real run for their money with a fraction of the resources. Photo journalist Michael Yon for example who has spent the better part of the last three years living in Iraq with American, British and Iraqi forces who is completely independent and funded entirely by reader donations.

    Last year one of his photos was nominated for a very prestigious award. There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of other quality amateur journalists out there scooping and out reporting old media every day.

    The fact is people don’t go to DIGG, Delicious, and Reddit to get their hard-hitting news. It is kind of like comparing Everybody Loves Raymond to Meet the Press.

    Blog on!
    Rick Calvert, CEM
    CEO & Co-founder
    BlogWorld & New Media Expo

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