Confidently Facing Chaos

Here’s the latest in my ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World.

 CONFIDENTLY FACING CHAOS

One of the most difficult challenges I hear for local media companies is overcoming the appearance of chaos in the reinvention process. More than anything else, this prevents people from navigating the really disruptive waters and choosing instead to stay with what they know. This despite considerable evidence that mass media’s business model is going the way of the video rental store.

To the ordered mind, anything smacking of serious change is chaotic, but it can be foolish to try anything that attempts to go above, around or beneath it. We need the skill and ability to move THROUGH chaos to find our way to lasting prosperity in the new era. That’s what this essay is all about.

Meanwhile, the headline of Brian Stelter’s New York Times report on the 2013 version of the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s “State of the News Media” report says it all: Local TV News Is Following Print’s Path, Study Says.

Those who follow my work will find none of this to be “new.” However, I’m saddened by this year’s report, because I’m afraid we’re getting to the point where even deliberate attempts to steer a different course will only have limited success.

The report illuminates a few important trends:

  • Audiences of local TV news continue to shrink — There is nothing on the horizon, no new concept in local TV news that will bring back those who’ve left. None. So unless there is a major blue sky (and blank slate) reinvention project ahead, local TV — despite an occasional good report, such as advertisers still preferring TV — there is no future.
  • Where programs have changed since 2005, they’ve gone for more weather, traffic, and sports. Live reports have replaced stories, and audiences are beginning to notice. This is accelerating the flight from local TV news.
  • People increasingly get news from their friends and then proceed to learn more.

I strongly encourage you to read the entire PEW report. It’s a terrific benchmark of where we’re at from both revenue and audience perspectives.

Redefining Community

Here is the latest in my ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World.

Redefining Community

I’m officially back to working for myself, with a gig that, I hope, will help advance my thought. I tell everybody today that I’m not a business consultant, a news consultant, or a sales consultant. I’m a reinvention specialist, and not just for media anymore. As Mary Meeker wrote in her Internet report last year, we need to reimagine everything, and that’s what I’m all about. I’m redesigning The Pomo Blog and also building two new websites that will further explain what I’m doing. Out with the old; in with the new. Of course, I’m going to keep writing and advancing the concepts that I’ve been exploring with you for the past 10 years.

As my thinking shifts and expands to encompass the wider reinvention field, I’m starting with a deeper discussion of what our life in “the network” means for doing business the old-fashioned way. The equilibrium of the industrial age is morphing into what feels like chaos in the postmodern age, post-industrial age, or whatever you’d like to call it. Those who fear change miss the remarkable opportunities that are before us, including changing definitions of what we thought were permanent. Consider the word “community,” for example, and how connected people are able to experience life outside the bonds of geography. This impacts media, of course, but it also impacts everybody else.

Enjoy, and welcome to 2013.

Following the BIG Trends

Here is the latest in my ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World.

Following the BIG Trends

This is the final essay I will publish as an employee of AR&D. It’s my look ahead to 2013, and I’ll leave the teaser at that. I have thoroughly loved my time with Jerry, Jim, Fred, Mary, Jina and the rest of the team at AR&D. We part as friends, and I have only the best of thoughts of them, the work they do, and the way I have been treated over the past six years. AR&D will always have my unqualified recommendation. My departure is a good thing for all of us.

I’m off to build my own company, Reinvent21, that specializes in business reinvention strategies and tactics. I’ll work with some media companies, but my message extends across the entire scope of those who do business via the Web. It’s a tricky proposition to reinvent, but it’s quite necessary as we face a future filled with unknowns due to the disruptive nature of Jay Rosen’s “Great Horizontal.” Every hierarchical institution will be disrupted, and you’ll find me wherever I can help people through that difficult process. Postmodernism isn’t some lofty theory conjured up by the minds of academics with nothing better to do; it’s a very real change in our culture, and it does and will continue to impact every one of us. My concern, of course, is that few people talk about it – the cultural change – so we’re not really prepared for what’s to come.

May God bless and keep each and every one of you. I’ll see you on the other side in just a couple of weeks.

The Postmodern Journalist

Here’s the latest in my ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World.

The Postmodern Journalist

As the nature of media continues to evolve, questions of what news will be like in the future continue to spark debate. We have clarity in some areas – such as the shift to real time flows and streams – but other aspects are yet to be uncovered. Those of you who’ve followed my work over the years know that I believe a cultural change driven by a technologically-empowered bottom is what’s underway, and this essay examines – with a degree of specificity – what it will take to be a journalist in this new era. To me, the signs are everywhere, and evidence such as new data from Gallup about trust in institutions needs to be considered as something other than a momentary glitch in the progress of the West. I hope you enjoy and consider this piece thought-provoking at the very least.

Henry Blodget is Right. TV is in Trouble

Here is the latest in my now 10-year old and ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World.

Henry Blodget is Right: TV is in Trouble

I realize that some of you may not like this probing of a controversial article by Business Insider’s Henry Blodget, but it’s very important that we be honest with ourselves about the message – that shifting consumer behaviors make this a very dangerous time for our business. Blodget compared TV to newspapers before revenue calamity struck. This issue is highly complex and multi-faceted, but the way the industry has rejected Blodget’s argument out-of-hand is disturbing, because he’s very likely right (I certainly agree with him on the broader message).

This is why AR&D has written three books about these changes and dedicated our own resources to helping figure out solutions. It all begins with the acceptance and courage that only real leaders embrace, and that usually begins with speaking the truth.

The most important thing to understand about this discussion is that it is FUTURE-driven and not at all about today. That’s why the use of contemporary data to justify denial is so self-destructive. An intelligently-delivered future view may be right or it may be wrong, but it’s always worth consideration.

The User Annoyance Issue

Here’s the latest in my ongoing essay series, Local Media in a Postmodern World:

The User Annoyance Issue

One of the essential conflicts between the revenue model of legacy media companies and the people who consume the content created by these companies is how far audiences will go in tolerating the annoying nature of that model. Television, after all, is sustained by messages that interrupt programming, and who likes to be interrupted? This is exacerbated online (where people can do something about it), and so we have a problem that’s so fundamental to doing business that unless we deal with it, we’re going to strike out in trying to replace revenue lost through our legacy platforms. This is one we simply have to get right.

Happy Memorial Day to everyone.