Posts from June 23, 2005

She is not a crook

She is not a crook

: The half-hearted apology that includes such phrases as, “If I made a mistake…” usually precedes the resignation under continued fire by only a few days. Tick. Tick. [via Glenn Reynolds]

Fair and balanced

Fair and balanced

: Didn’t get a chance to link to John Podhoretz’ great column yesterday taking apart Ed Klein’s effort to take apart Hillary Clinton.

Because if any book in recent memory reads as though it has been written out of greed ó a greedy hunger to separate millions of conservative book buyers from their hard-earned 25 bucks ó it is Ed Klein’s “The Truth About Hillary.”

This is one of the most sordid volumes I’ve ever waded through. Thirty pages into it, I wanted to take a shower. Sixty pages into it, I wanted to be decontaminated. And 200 pages into it, I wanted someone to drive stakes through my eyes so I wouldn’t have to suffer through another word.

: And I’m amazined Klein is still on Parade’s masthead playing Walter Scott. He’s not on a personality parade anymore. He’s on a personality perp walk.

French trees shout: Vive l’online!

French trees shout: Vive l’online!

: Editors Weblog tells us (who don’t speak French) about a report from a French government think tank predicting the demise of daily, printed newspapers.

The reaction to this is typically French/EU: Spend some government money to swim against that tide.

Says John Burke at the weblog:

A report just released by a French government think tank that analyzes present situations and predicts the future of various public and private organizations paints a bleak picture for the future of the French printed press. The threat from the Internet and foreign news sources will, according to the think tank, transform all French news organizations into multimedia companies, of which only 2 or 3 will be left standing by 2011. Result: ” a majority of newspapers will disappear by 2011… if nothing is done”.

The report cites the need of French government aid to journals that undergo innovative reforms and that improve their public service. To further involve young readers, French government subsidies should be used to provide free temporary subscriptions for 18 year-olds. For the French media in general, the report calls for improved training for journalists, a radical reform of Agence France Presse, and a reform of news distribution.

Did they create a tax to feed the horses when the car came along?

Here and here I swatted at the notion of government helping journalism for then it can be used to influence journalism. Just ask PBS.

Beyond that, though, if the people want to get their news online why not give it to them there? If the French government wants to support something, wouldn’t it be better to support the future than the past? Wouldn’t it be better to underwrite development of online? Or are they afraid it will steal marketshare from the Minitel?

Chief clueless sod

Chief clueless sod

: Simon Waldman quotes Gavin OíReilly, incoming chair of the World Association of Newspapers, and COO of Independent News and Media, saying at the recent world newspaper confab in Korea:

I think participative journalism is a dangerous precedent for our industry. People forget that newspapers have always been an interactive medium, people have always been able to interact with us through the mailbag.

TV just exploded

TV just exploded

: The inevitable just happened: The broadcast networks earned less in upfront (preseason) ad buying this year than last year. That’s a big deal. It’s not a cycle. It’s an explosion. Mark this date as the day TV exploded and the mass market went pfffft with it.

It had to happen. Year after year, network audiences declined, yet ad rates and buying went up: Marketers were paying more for less (and I thought only cable customers did that). The delta between those two lines on a chart is a measure of advertisers’ inability to change or worse. But now that has changed.

It’s all downhill from here. Oh, this doesn’t mean that broadcast is dead. But it will not grow again. It will shrink. Ditto other big, old media outlets. And with that, the media industry will change as it is forced to find new ways to produce lower-cost programming and as advertisers are forced to abandon easy mass-market buying in favor of putting together ad hoc, targeted, and more efficient networks in more measurable media, including media created by people outside media companies (aka you). The dollars will flee to online and its many media at a higher, faster rate than audience declines on the networks as advertisers finally begin to value online appropriately (though online is a scarcity killer with unlimited content and traffic and that will depress rates).

Media Post reports:

Verklin implied the shifts were not merely a function of a cyclical weakness in the TV ad marketplace, but part of a fundamental realignment of marketing priorities, and the way marketers and agencies look at television in their media mix.

And the Wall Street Journal says (not a free link):

The decline appears to signal that, after years of debate about the effectiveness of TV ads, advertisers finally are cutting back on their spending….

This year’s decline appears to relate more to questions about the effectiveness of traditional TV commercials. Debate about traditional advertising has risen in recent years as digital video recorders have made it easier for viewers to zap through ads and as people have spent more time on the Internet and playing videogames….

Advertisers for years have believed broadcast television offered the biggest bang for the buck, with millions of viewers tuned in to a single program. In a world where people can easily zap through ads, advertisers increasingly are interested in marketing avenues that capture more of consumers’ attention, including the Internet.

It’s not a medium, it’s a focus group

It’s not a medium, it’s a focus group

: The Wall Street Journal (free link) sums up companies who are monitoring blogs to get the pulse of the market.

Dell hell, continued

Dell hell, continued

: As I sent my machine to Dell in the Airborne ambulance, I took the hard drive out at Dell’s demand (what if it’s the hard drive or the registry that’s broken? they will make me spend hours on the phone to diagnose that, said the man). I put it in my son’s Dell, which is exactly the same: an Inspiron 600m. Ah, but I saw that it was not exactly the same, not at all: When the machine started up, my laptop’s brain in my son’s laptop’s body started recognizing no end of new and strange hardware. And that’s to say that there is no consistency at all in the Dell product. Tom Friedman wrote about that, admiringly, in his World is Flat book: In their just-in-time gusto, they grab a part from this supplier or that supplier and slap them in there. And so there is no consistency to the product: The 600m I bought and was satisifed with two months ago is not one bit like the 600m I bought next. It’s as if I went to Burger King and they substituted pork for beef because it was cheaper today.

But you know what, that’s Dell’s problem, really: All I should care about is having a computer that works. How it works and how it’s made is their problem if I have a warranty, right?

But that’s what bothers me most: I bought that warranty, the top-of-the-line, most expensive warranty that warrants to send someone to my home to repair my machine.

Except that’s a big fat Dell lie. The person they would send to my home would not have the parts (or, according to some of my commenters, the expertise, training, and intelligence) to repair that machine.

Smells like fraud to me.

Smells like a class-action suit to some of my commenters and emailers.

Calling Mr. Spitzer. Calling Mr. Spitzer.

Dell lies. Dell sucks.

I pledge not to pledge

I pledge not to pledge

: Yesterday, I suggested that Dan Gillmor should have wikied his pledge and Sean Bonner has done it. Dan has some links.

Thinking about it last night, I liked the idea of a pledge even less but thought I should explain that more.

A pledge assumes ill will and mistrust, requiring that we promise we won’t do something bad. If we’re decent and you trust us, we shouldn’t have to do that. I don’t have to take a pledge not to torture little puppies for you to trust that I won’t do it. I shouldn’t have to pledge to be honest to be honest.

The whole point of this new medium is that it is human and not institutional. In a human relationship, apart from wedding vows and oaths in court, we don’t take pledges. When you meet a neighbor, you don’t feel the need to say, I pledge not to dump my garbage in your backyard. The compact of civility and trust is assumed until it is broken. That’s the way I think this new medium operates. A blog is a person. Buzzmachine is me. You either like and trust me or don’t (and there are plenty who don’t; just read the comments). Or to put it another way: Like me, like my blog; dislike my blog, dislike me. I keep coming back to the conclusion of my blog chat with NY Times exec editor Bill Keller: Though blogs can do journalism and do media they are still essentially human. Journalism is institutional, impersonal, and dispassionate; blogs are human, personal, and passionate. Institutions takes pledges because they have become separated from the people they serve and they need to. Humans — bloggers — shouldn’t need to. Doesn’t mean you have to trust a blogger. But saying “trust me” doesn’t mean anybody should trust you more.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to see blogs turn into an institution, or try to, for then they wouldn’t be blogs anymore. They are human and operate on a personal and social scale and it’s a mistake to see them through institutional eyes. When I sat at an Annenberg confab on journalism a few weeks ago, I flashed on the frightening notion that in 50 years, there could be such confabs among bloggers fretting over trust, ethics, professional standards, educational needs, government relationships…. But then I snapped out of it. I was looking at blog through institutional eyes. No, blogs are just people speaking.