The Million-Dollar Home Page guy has his next stunt. Amazing how you can make a career out of gimmicks.
Posts about Internet
I think the internet brought more change to the biorhythms of American politics in this election than the last, but in more subtle ways that we can only now begin to measure.
Start with this: Wouldn’t it be ironic if the netroots’ excommunication of Joe Lieberman led the Democrats to lose a seat and not quite get control of the Senate? It won’t matter much in reality, of course. Lieberman’s still a Democrat, whether some Democrats want him or not.
But there’s a lesson here for newly empowered popular movements and for political parties. It’s just not clear yet what that lesson is. Does the law of unintended consequences rule: A movement rose up to purge Lieberman from the party but ended up losing one for the party? Or does this demonstrate to party leaders that they can’t lose control of their parties? Can they still? The people and the power brokers have to figure out who’s on top.
YouTube allowed anyone with a camera to report on any candidate and so now any misstatement gains toxicity and speed; this is the true viral politics.
The speed of politics has changed, just as the speed of media did before it. Dan Rather couldn’t wait 11 days to correct his mistake. Allen and Kerry couldn’t wait hours to back off their media malaprops.
The voice of politics has changed, not just because the people can now be heard in our blogs but also because we can cut through the nonsense of media coverage with the no-nonsense attitude of comedy news. On YouTube, you can remix and mock any politician. Anyone can be Jon Stewart. Everyone can call bullshit. I hope we are starting to see the death of the dutiful voice of politics in America.
Yes, this was an incredibly ugly, TV-run election in many races (including our Senate race in New Jersey) but I believe that we will see an ever-declining influence of television and political advertising on TV in future elections. They will find new ways to get ugly in new media.
Saul Hansell reports in The Times on Google’s test of a new advertising sales marketplace for newspapers.
Is it a good idea? Of course, it is. It is an idea the newspaper industry should have taken on itself 10, no 20 ago. It’s not just about the internet. It’s about finding ways to serve small local advertisers with self-serve sales and new locally focused products. It’s also about finding ways to bring together newspapers into national networks that can sell demographically targeted ads to new marketers. Oh, the industry tried with the doomed New Century Network but it failed because newspaper people are used to working in monopolies; they are not used to thinking like their customers or working together. And that is a major reason they are now in free fall. It’s not the internet’s fault. It’s their fault.
And turning over ad sales to Google — strengthening Google over their own brands, as Hansell’s story points out — only reveals the bankruptcy of their own strategies and soon businesses. Oh, if I were running a newspaper (fat chance), I’d probably sign on, too, because there’s little time and less choice. But it is only an indication of what Google can do and newspapers can’t.
Tim Berners-Lee tells the Guardian’s Bobbie Johnson that the internet — and blogs — are in danger of being overrun by bad actors:
But he warns that “there is a great danger that it becomes a place where untruths start to spread more than truths, or it becomes a place which becomes increasingly unfair in some way”. He singles out the rise of blogging as one of the most difficult areas for the continuing development of the web, because of the risks associated with inaccurate, defamatory and uncheckable information.
Sir Tim believes devotees of blogging sites take too much information on trust: “The blogging world works by people reading blogs and linking to them. You’re taking suggestions of what you read from people you trust. That, if you like, is a very simple system, but in fact the technology must help us express much more complicated feelings about who we’ll trust with what.” The next generation of the internet needs to be able to reassure users that they can establish the original source of the information they digest.
I think this comes down to identity and trust. But I also don’t think the internet can necessarily be much better at this than the real world. Hucksters, scammers, spammers, flacks, and various nefarious liars can come after us on the street, in the mail, on TV, via faxes, on the phone, and now online. Sadly, we have to be on guard against them everywhere. Information is one weapon; the more we can know about them, the better we are and the internet does allow us to gather information and gang up on the bad guys; that’s how spam filters work, albeit damned imperfectly. Identity is the next weapon; the more we know about you, the more we know whether to trust you. I’m not suggesting outlawing anonymity, but I will say again that I must distrust those I can’t identify and the anonymous have to know that is a consequence of their hiding their identities. So I thing Sir Tim’s invention can possibly improve on systems in the real world — it can be a bit better — but there will always be another scumbucket lurking around the corner, looking to exploit any opening. That doesn’t destroy the internet anymore than it destroys the mails. It means we need to find the means to manage it as best we can.
: LATER: Thanks to James in the comments, we see Berners-Lee making clear he wasn’t intending to play chicken little and bash blogs. And he does it on his blog.
The Newspaper Association of America reports a surge in online traffic and audience to newspaper online sites.
On average, over 56.9 million people visited newspaper sites each month in Q3 2006, up almost 24 percent since Q3 2005. . . . The group earlier this month reported unique visitors to newspaper sites rose 31 percent during the first half of 2006 over the same period in ’05. Unique visitors to paper sites averaged more than 55.5 million per month during the first six months of ’06, up almost a third from the 42.4 million during the first half of last year. Newspaper sites generated 2.7 billion pageviews in the third quarter, and visitors spent more than 41.5 minutes each month on the sites, according to the report. During that period last year, visitors viewed around 1.9 billion paper pages, spending 40.4 minutes on the sites on average monthly.
I think this further feeds the idea that newspapers are in “free fall,” as The Times said last week: The rush online is getting faster and faster and if media execs and ad execs don’t catch up, they will be left behind… sooner than they think.
: I call out ad execs for a reason: They are holding back the progress in media. Oh, it’s the fault of media execs as well. But get a load of these stats from today’s Times:
Indeed, the Internet draws only a sliver of the total spent on advertisements. Last year, Internet ads accounted for just 4.7 percent, or $12.5 billion, of the $267 billion spent on advertising, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade association of online publishers. And the top 50 advertisers spent just 3.8 percent of their budgets in the first half of this year on online ads, excluding search, TNS Media Intelligence data shows. For all other advertisers, the average spent online was 6.8 percent of the budget.
Procter & Gamble, the nation’s biggest advertiser last year, spent $33.5 million — less than 1 percent of its $4.6 billion ad budget — on online ads in 2005. General Motors, the second-biggest advertiser, spent $110.5 million online, or 2.5 percent of its $4.35 billion total, according to TNS, which does not include search ads in its figures.
The essential change in media is that we, the people, won’t go to where you are anymore. You have to come to us. And you’re not.
* Los Angeles Times daily circulation dropped 8%; down 6% on Sunday.
* San Francisco Chronicle dropped 5.3% daily; down 7.3% on Sunday.
* New York Times dropped 3.5% daily; down 3.5% on Sunday.
* Boston Globe dropped 6.7% daily; down 9.9% on Sunday.
* Washington Post dropped 3.3% daily; down 2.6% on Sunday.
* Wall Street Journal dropped 1.9% daily; WSJ Weekend Edition down 6.7%.
* Chicago Tribune dropped 1.7% daily; down 1.3% on Sunday.
* USA Today dropped 1.3%.
FoxNews is 10 years old this week. This year, Al Jazeera turns 10. So did The Daily Show. All that the three have in common, besides birthdays, is that they brought new voices to TV news: no longer the allegedly objective, cold, institutional tone that journalism took on when it became a monopoly, once-size-fits-all business in this country, thanks to the impact of broadcast on the media marketplace. These fraternal triplets each brought perspective to news, a distinct and clearly apparent worldview, and a passion about serving a public that each believed was underserved.
What enabled this to happen? Simple: Choice. Bandwidth. The ability to broadcast off the broadcast tower and its strait-jacket frequencies. Cable made it possible, and satellite. That’s the frequency, Kenneth (which, by the way, was said to Dan Rather a decade before, when the remote control started revolutionizing American media). And now, a decade after the cable age we are in the thick of the internet age, which allows us to not only hear new voices but also to speak with our own.
I had a ding moment about FoxNews in 2003 when CNN’s Jeff Greenfield interviewed me about bloggers. He came trailing a show producer, a field producer, a cameraman, and a soundman, plus unseen editors behind the scenes. I’d done such segments over the years and never thought anything of it — this is how the pros do it, this is how TV is made — until I came to contrast this with FoxNews, which didn’t have armies of field producers and produced pieces.
That’s when I saw the true genius of Roger Ailes, which had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with money. Ailes was creating a third cable news network with little money and so he built it around not producers and their pieces but around conversation and personality. It made the news a helluva lot cheaper to make; it was, as it turns out, a lot more compelling (or entertaining or enraging, if you prefer). And it gave TV news a voice. This wasn’t the artificially inseminated humanity of network anchors or local news morons. This was opinion and sometimes passion. And it worked. It drew a huge audience; it made money; it set agendas in both politics and media. Murdoch held onto the unprofitable New York Post over the years because he wanted a bully pulpit and now he had a bully pulpit, indeed. But even Murdoch is first a businssman and FoxNews was smart business.
Meanwhile, cable and satellites enabled Al Jazeera to serve its public all across the world. And The Daily Show became the news show unafraid to call bullshit. And old TV news only looks older.
I had my next and similar ding moment just a few weeks ago, when I wrote about a three-camera HDTV shoot in my den, the Buzzmachine World Headquarters, where I have also published to the world and broadcast over MSNBC, CNN, and ABCNews.com from the $99 camera on my laptop. More choice. More bandwidth. More voices.
This is the sweet sound, the glorious cacapohony of democracy and the marketplace. It is ever more jarring to those who thought they could control the message. Yes, FoxNews is irritating if you don’t agree with it. Damned sure the same is true of Al Jazeera. And for some, it’s ditto for Jon Stewart. But who can argue that more voices heard can be bad for a democracy?
So I say happy birthday, FoxNews. Same for you, Al Jazeera, and The Daily Show. Many happy and loud returns.
: LATER: Speaking of The Daily Show, Indiana University prof Julia Fox just studied the content of Jon Stewart’s show vs. network news and…
…she says the popular “fake news” program, which last week featured Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as a guest, is just as substantive as network coverage. While much has been written in the media about The Daily Show’s impact, Fox’s study is the first scholarly effort to systematically examine how the comedy program compares to traditional television news as sources of political information.
This comes as Yahoo also announces a big and expensive marketing push: Dunkin’ Donuts for all.
I’ll say it again: Yahoo is the last old-media company. It is dependent on the same dynamics — good and bad — as other media companies: the high value but difficulties of direct sales to agencies; the cost of acquiring users; the vulnerability to larger market trends; the high cost of owning content.
Google, on the other hand, just rides atop the waves, wherever they go. So far, at least, it does not tie itself to the old models of owning (or licensing) content or getting value only out of bringing people to its site.
The successful media companies of the new age will be the ones that enable media wherever it wants to be.