Posts from March 9, 2005

Online killed the video star

Online killed the video star

: The obit has been written many times. Tonight we buried the body.

This was the end of the era of the anchor, of news as a lecture, of one-size-fits-all media, of journalism on a pedestal.

That’s not Dan Rather’s fault. Other things are, but that’s not. tonight, he’s merely a symbol of an era that’s over.

I see no cause for regret. The era of the reporter — brave, swashbuckling, aggressive, eager — is not over; there will always be Dan Rathers who will stay on top of the big story and shout about it.

But the era of one-way news is gone. And in a sense, we have Dan Rather to thank for that. If his last mistake had been a little less obvious, if his response had been a little bit quicker, if his tone had been a little less arrogant, he’d be back on the news tomorrow night.

What matters isn’t that he’s gone. And what matters isn’t that bloggers got his head.

What matters is that bloggers have to be listened to. What matters is that the people will be heard.

Though I was hardly was his greatest fan, I have to admire Rather’s dogged energy and I have to feel some sympathy for ending his amazing run with a stumble.

But no one else would have provided the contrast he did: old v. new, big v. small, controlled v. open. By that contrast, we see the future of news.

The only problem for Rather was that his last big story was Rather.

: More reaction…

: It takes a special breed of balls to end the last broadcast with the word “courage.” I honestly don’t know whether he is all that hokey or whether he has a wicked sense of humor.

: Lone Ranger, a broadcast journalist, says:

Call me sentimental, but I watched the last minute of the CBS news tonight. It was the first time I’d watched Dan Rather in 20 years. But then, I had a box of chicken the day Colonel Sanders died too. Nothing dramatic happened. It was just chicken.

Oh, and nothing dramatic happened on the CBS news tonight either. He didn’t put a gun to his head, the staff didn’t break out in a spontaneous rendition of “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” not so much as a single tear slid down his cheek.

:

Connected links

Connected links

: Here are the links I’m likely to use on this afternoon’s Connected on MSNBC at 5p ET:

: We’ll talk about Dan Rather’s last night, of course. Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice joins much buzz about Walter Cronkite’s snarky remarks about Dan (he’d have replaced him years ago… he says Rather played a role). Says Joe: Rather was “a bit infected with the Geraldo Rivera syndrome… look and see how it impacts me and how brave and how much I care.”

Lost Remote reported that a Michigan station was holding a poll to let viewers decide whether to air a Rather tribute. But they suddenly took it down: “We were simply trying to maintain the great tradition of local viewer input that is the foundation of our modern day broadcasting system. It was never our intent to embarrass Mr. Rather or the CBS Network. We have always valued our over 50 year relationship with the CBS network and look forward to many more years of our affiliation.” Nevermind.

JiBlog has a lullaby for Dan:

Wherever you may go

No matter where you are

Blogs never will be far away

: I’ll talk about the furor over the bankruptcy bill coming from both left and right, much of it aimed at this sweetheart deal for credit-card companies. DailyKos is taking names of hinge-heeled Democrats and says that Biden — now representing the state of MBNA — has screwed his presidential ambition.

Talking Point Memo’s fill-in bloggers have been doing a great job rounding up the opposition .

And I’ll quote Glenn Reynolds’ opposition to the bill and that of the Republicans. Glenn says it is “consistent with the worst stereotypes about corporate-friendly Republicanism.”

What’s great about this is not only that we have the right and left in agreement — the people vs. the powerful — but also that we have liberals criticizing liberals and conservatives criticizing conservatives. What echo chamber?

: I’ll also talk about the case of Hiawatha Bray.

Bush on Rather?

Bush on Rather?

: At his photo-op just now, a reporter asked Bush to comment on Dan Rather’s exit. Did anybody catch what Bush said? I couldn’t hear it.

A call for an open-source ad tag

A call for an open-source ad tag

: I want to make a proposal for an open-source ad tag.

We need to enable advertising across citizens’ media, to support our new medium, and to serve marketers more efficiently than we possibly can today.

The problem today is that you have to pick the ad call you put on your site and that’s fine — except that let’s say an advertiser comes along wanting to buy ads on, say, the top 100 food blogs. Well, today, some of them will have BlogAds ad avails, others Burst, others Google, others Kanoodle, and so on. The advertiser can’t buy the best and largest network they want and they won’t bother going to each blog. So they lose the opportunity to reach this audience of smart influencers. And we miss the revenue.

It’s true that you can shift from one network to another: I recently spoke at the Burst company meeting and they explained that their publishers can set their tags so that, if Burst doesn’t have an ad to serve, the call can go to one of Burst’s competitors. But that still doesn’t really allow the advertiser to come in and create a customized network of the best sites to meet its goals.

I’ve been fretting about this for more than a year. One solution to this would be to create a citizens’ media ad network and infrastructure and work like hell to make it the ad network of choice. But that’s unlikely to work and it only presents another choice in a world where people are getting good revenue from BlogAds and Burst and Google.

So I started thinking about this idea of an open-source ad tag. I’m sure I’ll mess this up and others who know a helluva lot more about this will come in correct me — that’s what we do, eh? But try this on for size:

: You put the open-source ad tag on your site and it pings some central server (or is scraped by a spider) to announce itself, to make itself available to the network.

: Perhaps the ad can be associated not just with a site or a page but with a post and tags describing its content. That is targeting nirvana.

: You post data about your site with standard tags: topics, author, the kinds of ads you won’t take, etc.

: You also agree to put on your site a standard identifier so traffic, audience, and demographics of your audience can be collected (you can opt out, but you’ll sell less). You serve standard cookies to enable this.

: This standard identifier is also used with other data services so advertisers can put together ad hoc networks according to an amazing array of requirements — more than in any other medium: With the traffic data and with, say, Technorati, they could determine the 100 top food blogs as defined by (a) audience, (b) traffic, (c) influence, as defined by incoming links, (d) meme starting, as defined by your spot on the progress of stories. Or they could choose to buy blogs not by the demographics of the audience but instead by the demographics of the authors (sell a new album on blogs written by teenage girls, for example). This kind of targeting will be a key differentiator vs. other media.

: An ad agency or publisher or another organization can put together “quality networks” of selected sites, vetting them for quality, content, safety, whatever. So an agency can find the most influential sports blogs. Or a publisher can find compatible blogs to extend their reach or to bring in influencers for joint sales to advertisers. Or a church could vet blogs that are OK for Bible publishers or kids. This solves the problem of advertisers not wanting to be on “unsafe” content.

: You can accept or reject any ad. You can set your tag to take ads from the highest bidder. Or you can choose to approve every ad. You can set a time period to review ads so you can accept the best bidder. Or you can automatically accept ads from sources you trust. Or you can accept only ads that pay over a certain rate. I’m not sure how the bidding process works: Perhaps advertisers can start with a low price and increase it only if they don’t get takers.

: You can be paid on various models: sponsorship (cost per time period); CPM (cost per audience); performance (cost per click or per sale).

If this is done and if it becomes ubiquitous, then anyone who wants to sell or buy advertising can. The universe of sites for advertising — via networks or not — increases. The pool of money coming into advertising on citizens’ media explodes. The marketplace is efficient for buyer and seller and gives each maximum control of what matters to them.

I have been saying for a year that advertising on citizens’ media will not grow to its potential until we have three things:

: Metrics: How big, who, how they behave, etc.

: Serving: The ability to put together ad hoc targeted networks and place ads on them with no effort and high reliablity.

: ROI: The ability to measure return on investment and tune ad campaigns accordingly.

Again, one could build a network that does all that but it only competes with — rather than helps expand — the incumbents. And at the end of the day, as one VC friend said, you may end up with the DoubleClick of citizens’ media… except, in his words, “DoubleClicks’ business sucks.”

So I had my ‘ding!’ moment and decided that this should be an open-source solution. The goal is to get the ad call on any site that wants it and to collect the data advertisers want and to enable efficient buying and selling.

The net result of this — the good reason to do all this — is that it supports citizens’ media, bringing more revenue to it, allowing more people to be able to afford more quality media and I think that’s a good thing for those who want it.

I’m eager for feedback on how to make this happen, on whether it’s a good idea, on how to improve it. Pass the word….

The Week after wine

The Week after wine

[Wrote this last night at The Week’s dinner; posting now….]

: After dinner, they’re having a panel on whether media elite is out of touch with America.

The answer is yes and the panel is over.

Oh, if only.

God knows why they have Pat Robertson on this panel. “Are we elite?” he asks. No, you’re a bigot who gives God bad PR, Pat. It’s driving me nuts that he’s there.

Also here are Margaret Carlson of Time, Ed Schultz of radio in one Dakota or another, and Tina Brown of … Tina Brown.

Brown: “The media elite are all on the run, terrified of Pat Robertson.”

Robertson: “You should be.”

I digress… I was supposed to be at a table with Jonathan Adelstein of the FCC, whom I audio-fisked only a day ago. He didn’t show up. Wimp.

This guy Schultz is giving radio spiels. He’s talking about how he’s going to the talk-radio convention this week. What a fun bunch that must be.

Now Robertson is bitchslapping him. It’s like bad cable.

Brown: “I’m in the middle of this sort of testosterone fusillade.”

She says that she’d “like to see the media elite get a little more elite, please… The elite is supposed to lead.”

I’m sitting next to legendary editor Geneva Overholser. She gives up and leaves. I’m going to do likewise…

Eeyores

Eeyores

: Of course, Robert Fisk sees Syria’s withdrawl from Lebanon as bad news.