Posts Tagged ‘new media’


News Organizations Sometimes Bend the Rules of Engagement to Keep Up with Today’s Frenetic Pace of News Cycles.

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

The 24 hour news cycle is nothing new. It started in 1980 with the launch of CNN, the very first 24 hour news channel. Prior to cable news we relied on the newspaper, radio, or the evening news broadcast to find out what was happening in the world. And if a big story broke during the day or after the news broadcast chances were we would be informed by having our favorite TV show interrupted with a special report from the affiliate’s newsroom.

Over the last few years, however, the rate at which we receive the news has been accelerating and, believe it or not, promises to become even more immediate. Some news organizations are applying extreme and sometimes controversial business practices to keep up with this increasing pace and to survive in the highly competitive online news space.

With more pressure to deliver content to their followers, organizations like Politico and Gawker are helping to ratchet up the intensity to an even higher level when it comes to reporting the news. Pre-dawn start times at agencies tortoise_Hare1along with bonuses tied to the number of pageviews a reporter’s story garners are adding to the sense of urgency in which a story is posted online. Tracking how many people view articles online is becoming a higher priority not only at new media, but old media as well – creating an environment to see who can post the most exclusive stories the fastest.

As a result, when a major national story is in the midst of breaking news, the rules of engagement sometimes become a bit blurred, with more outlets favoring “cut and paste reporting” over actual journalism. Last month Rolling Stone magazine was about to post the General McChrystal story in which he and his aids were critical of the White House – first sending an advanced copy of the story to the Associated Press (customary for magazines trying to promote a story) with some restrictions. But before Rolling Stone had a chance to publish the story on their website, on their scheduled date, two major websites (Politico and Times.com) decided to post a PDF of the entire story to their respective sites.  

Although it was seen by some as a breach of copyright and professional best practices, both companies explained that they posted the story as it was unfolding. Since Rolling Stone didn’t immediately post the article itself they decided to move forward on their own.  Eric Bates, executive editor of Rolling Stone, didn’t see it that way. Voicing his concern not only from his magazine’s perspective but from an industry perspective, he called it a “transitional moment,” adding, “What these two media organizations did was off the charts. They took something that was in pre-published form, sent to other media organizations with specific restrictions, and just put it up.”

However, the exhausting pace of online news isn’t just taking its toll on the media organizations themselves. It is also coming at a price to the individuals supplying the content. The longer hours and added pressure to constantly come up with exclusive stories has contributed to an increased turnover of staff at online news organizations with more journalists facing burnout at a younger age. A dozen reporters recently left Politico in the first half of this year and it’s very common for an editor to leave Gawker after just one year.

While some may debate the future of the media, one thing is certain: The online media race is on.  I’m just not sure if slow and steady wins this one.

Do you think that the media and their audiences, are biting off more news than they can chew?  As a public relations professional, what do you think about news organizations bending the rules of engagement to keep up with today’s frenetic pace of news and how does this impact the way you conduct media relations? If you’re a journalist or blogger, how are you handling the added pressure of constantly having to deliver? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

How Much Has Changed?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

“So much has changed, and we are at a turning point,” said Arianna Huffington, keynoting the opening session for the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) International Conference. (I’m one of several BurrellesLuce representatives attending the conference this week.) She went on to say that, “Old media can be consumed on the couch and new media is like a galloping horse.” Another way to put it is that new media is ADD and old media is OCD.

2148432999_5d8971b173_m

Flickr Image: kevindooley

Not surprisingly, Huffington touted citizen journalism, which she believes can help make journalism better. In fact, The Huffington Post had a citizen journalism project during the election, which broke some big stories. Currently, they are asking citizen journalists to tell the stories about the economic crisis.

Some other takeaways from her keynote:

We need to look for the drama. Huffington gave the example of a story she recently wrote with the headline, “Biden Should Resign.” Had she headlined it, “The U.S. Should Pull-out of Afghanistan,” which is what the story was really about, very few people would have read it. The drama gave the story legs, and allowed her to tout it on talk shows. She also suggested using drama in communications to do good and gain support for worthy causes.

She wrapped her presentation encouraging everyone to listen. When we are not talking, we can hear what others have to say and gain knowledge from others.

What are you doing to encourage listening in your organization?

Emerging Technologies and Platforms are Changing How We Consume News

Friday, March 13th, 2009

News ConsumptionWith the hope of catching a glimpse of what’s coming around the curve with new media and it’s affect on broadcast and online journalism, I attended the first Media Summit hosted by Mediabistro.com this past Tuesday. We heard from members of three panels, including Joe Scarborough, current host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, BBC’s Rome Hartman, Rachel Stern, CEO of the Ground Report, and Michael Meyers, co-founder of NowPublic.com.

Each brought an interesting perspective on how blogs, social networking sites, and the advent of instant, inexpensive distribution technology are turning passive consumers into active producers. This revolutionary period of news reporting is forcing old media to take a look at working with new technology without compromising their reputation and credibility. We’ve all heard how the very first pictures from breaking news stories, such as the plane landing in the Hudson River, were first obtained by Twitter. In my opinion, comparing someone who “tweets” to an accredited news journalist from a major source is like comparing a day trader to an investment banker at a major bank. There’s no denying we live in an age where instant gratification has permeated even the way we consume news. The question: will the consumer have to decide on the distinction between reporting and journalism, or will old and new media morph into the perfect blend of both?
 
Although opinions differed on how new technology should be used when reporting the news, one point of agreement was that people today are consuming news more than ever. And with the rise of “citizen journalism” and this “Pro-Am” partnership that is developing with media, the panel agreed that consumers will have a stronger need for trusted brands, filtering, and editing to help navigate the media. Michael Meyers from NowPublic, who pioneered the concept of “citizen journalism,” mentioned they’ve begun ranking their contributors with a point system to lend credibility to their “citizen reporting.”  
 
What I learned on Tuesday is that it’s not a zero sum game between old and new media. Most of the panelists concurred that old media is not going away anytime soon. Most of the raw material used by bloggers is still coming from mainstream media. Both sides are sharing best practices with each other to adapt to an ever-changing media landscape. Hopefully in the end they will be able to combine the credible investigative reporting to which our older generation has become accustomed and the instant distribution the younger generation demands – continuing to feed a consumer base with a ferocious appetite for news.

The Online Journalism Blog has some interesting insights into the changing media landscape, as well. Care to share yours with me and the other folks at BurrellesLuce?

A Visit with the Copyright Alliance

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Steve Shannon
AllianceOn a recent trip to Washington, D.C., I had the pleasure of visiting with Patrick Ross, executive director of the Copyright Alliance. A two-year old organization, it members – all involved in the creation of original works – include songwriters, photographers, recording artists, graphic designers, and software developers, as well as the owners of motion pictures, videogames, and sports leagues.

My chat with Patrick illuminated for me the forces at work in the world of copyright and what the future will hold.  Of course, given my work at BurrellesLuce, a lot of my questions to him were about newspapers and magazines.

In quizzing Patrick about what’s ahead for the printed media, I learned he sees a continuing online evolution. He believes consumers of that media will see a mixed model of free and paid content, with the horse already being out of the barn on free content. Once publishers secure an ongoing and viable business model, Patrick thinks they will then put more muscle behind copyright enforcement, and will rely on technology to track the use of their material.

Because most news items have a shelf life, Patrick believes they have a lower value to digital pirates. Still, Patrick notes when piracy does take place, it happens in real time. Going forward, this may force publishers to become hyper-vigilant about protecting their copyrights.  As an example, Patrick points out that the content of his own blog on copyright is already being pirated and used to sell ads. Patrick is flattered that his content is considered valuable, as his readership is remarkably high given the weighty nature of its subject matter, but like any publisher, he wants his users to interact with his content in the context of his choosing, in this case the Copyright Alliance website.

Of note, Patrick told me that while copyright law is about 300 years old, one can find many examples of the use of the word piracy related to takings of original works about 400 years ago.  Clearly copyrights and their infringement is an age-old issue.

Lastly, I asked Patrick what he sees on the horizon for the next two to three years in regard to copyright.  Patrick’s first observation was that the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007 (PRO-IP Act) signed into law by President Bush is a significant development for copyright protection and enforcement. While not yet funded, PRO-IP should be soon, putting a cabinet-level intellectual property coordinator in the White House and increasing criminal penalties for trademark and copyright infringement. Patrick also thinks the Department of Justice will add staff to their computer crimes division for the specific purpose of piracy enforcement.

In wrapping up with Patrick, I asked one more question about the news media world and how the “build it and they will come” model needs to change.  His answer was quick, succinct, and noteworthy for public relations professional in this new Media 2.0 world: “Find your audience and move towards them with content.”  Copyrighted content of course.

Digital Lemonade

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Outing someone nowadays has an entirely different meaning than it did 10 years ago. Today, “outing” someone refers to revealing their true identity online.lemons.jpg Golly Homer, you mean people would have to actually be held accountable for what they say under their digital alias? This leads one to believe we have collectively arrived at a place that says it was once okay to be irresponsible. Hold that thought for just a moment …

The convergence of new digital modes  and economic amorality, combined with some good old-fashioned denial puts the media in a challenging situation. To cite a close-to-home example, the old-line media lost track of their advertisers’ need to connect with audiences and did nothing to stay connected to the last two or three generations who are linked to the world by digital tethers. Hence the old media groups are in a spiral trying to deliver the younger audiences to their advertisers who are no longer interested in +55 year olds.

With the financial markets being closed for the present – the economic amorality part, denies all businesses in crisis (media included) a life vest. Of course, they could have crossed the stream before they needed the life vest, but that is the denial part.

Just like with the “outed” it all comes back to lemonade or, to use another word, responsibility. So I ask, “Who are you responsible to?” Note, I did not ask, “Who are you responsible for?”

I am going to go out on a limb and say that a big part of our current problems are the result of this very semantic confusion. I have recently accepted the responsibility for the technical effort here at BurrellesLuce and in so doing my ultimate responsibility is to insure that our technology meets the needs of our customers and exceeds their expectations. The reality is that it is the IT team that is actually meeting the need, not me. IT’s customers are the sales department, the production department, and the finance department. What IT is responsible for is how it meets its responsibility to them.

What about the company’s customers you ask? In respecting the ability of the sales, production, marketing, and finance management to be responsible to their customers, the IT team can focus on IT’s customers. Meeting the needs of my customer requires having a belief that this will lead to my needs being met.

This is no small task for the “outed” generation. It is about an orientation to “you” from “me,” to “I respect your ability” from “I am better,” from lemons to lemonade.