Old vs. news: I

Old vs. news: I
: Yesterday, by fate — or kismet — I attended two panel discussions at NYU that tried to see what’s next for media from two perspectives: the past and the future.

As I mentioned below, I was on a panel for MBA students from across the country called “Beyond the Printed Page.” Some heavyweights — Kelly Conlin, president of Primedia; Bruce Hallett, president of Sports Ilustrated, Paul Rossi, publisher of Ecnomist.com; Thomas Carley, president of NYTimes News Services — shared their valuable experience with extending their products, brands, and revenue in the internet, TV, and such.

At the end, Eric Garland, the moderator, asked the obligatory question about the fate of print. We’d all been joking that the students — faced with a choice of sexier panels about music, TV, and children’s entertainment — wouldn’t show up for dusty old print (many did). So Garland cued the whither-print discussion. Hallett said that these are not mature businesses and are still developing and growing; the rest nodded.

I’d said earlier that we are in for a fundamental restructuring — with an endless supply of content that could be viewed as competition or, better, as a new source of diverse viewpoints and deeper relationships; I did my citizens’-media boogie (you’ve watched that dance before so I’ll spare you).

And as I left, I got email from Jay Rosen saying that he and Anil Dash would be speaking to a group at the NYU Law School on how weblogs are changing the world (I blogged it, below). Jay talked eloquently, as always, on the fundamental restructuring of content. There was a lot of excitement about the Iranian and Iraqi bloggers. The place buzzed.

When I got home, I told my wife about it over dinner and said it was a rather stark contrast: old v. new, big v. small, drone v. buzz. She nodded but also chuckled and said it’s too bad there’s no money in this blog thing. She’s right (she always is).

And so now it hits me that the big boys aren’t going to take this phenomenon seriously until they see its economic power. They’ll think it’s cute that citizens’ media powered Howard Dean or will power revolution in Iran. But what they care about is money.

They will notice when a Denton steals an advertiser from them or shows up in market research as a better competitor or sells his company to one of them for a few mil.

It’s about money. If we want this new medium to be taken seriously and if we want it to get the resources it needs to develop with more tools and talent, then we do need to get serious about money (which means, among many other things, creating standards for measuring the size of the medium).

I don’t want to see the buzz of the second panel turn into the drone of the first (that will come in a generation or two). I just want to see the buzz grow.

  • Hey Jeff — So, you came to NYU to speak and didn’t tell me? Sneaky! I would have come out to support you!
    You might be right in your assumption about the big companies, but what do you suggest to get the money into blogs?
    And one quick correction, near the end. I think the Dean to whom you are referring is one Howard Dean.

  • I completely agree, Jeff. Follow the money.
    Sorry, but I disagree with your wife. I think there is money in blogging, namely blogvertising and blogvertorial.
    I think the reason why potential clients
    haven’t gotten it behind it yet is that the relationship between client, blogger and reader has a completely different dynamic than the tradtional old media client-publisher-audience situation, and the clients don’t want to acknowlege it, at least for now. That will change.

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    Jeff, for a while, I expected more development of The Internet Topic Exchange in this regard. But, so far, I guess there hasn’t been much forward movement.

  • There is undoubtably still a stigmatism attached to “blogging” vs. “professional journalism”. Not that I am equating them, but that lots of people that I communicate with, I am talking about hip, young, city people in their late 20’s early 30’s have either a.) never heard of blogging until I bring it up, and b.) when they do, they scoff at it. When I tell them about the things that we are trying to support in Iraq for example, they give me the “well isn’t that nice” routine, but “it isn’t as if you have a coporation doing this.” In other words, no money involved, it isn’t a “true” business in their eyes. And lots of people simply don’t want their world rocked, not that it’s going to stop it from happening. The Buzz is out. With all of the bloggers out there, the phenomenon is muliplying exponentially every week, every month. But it still amazes me when I talk to people who are on-line every day, well educated, well read, and have never heard of Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, or you, or Jay Rosen. The blog world is still it’s own world, though it is growing. We’ve been reading Glenn for ages, Glenn led to you, you led to Zeyad, we all know how that goes, before we know it we are up until 3 am reading the 15th link to another bloggers post. Thank God my husband is just as addicted, so we won’t be one of those “blogger marriage” breakups! We just each sit on our laptops, doing our thing, and exchanging comments back and forth from about 9pm until 11pm (or sometimes 3am) on a fairly regular nightly basis. But back on point, once an advertiser realizes the “exponential factor” and can take advantage of that, it could make one hell of a turnaround. It goes without saying that bloggers that read “x” blogs, likely also read “y” blogs, so there is a huge market just sitting there waiting, waiting for the right person to recognize it.

  • Well, bloggers have definitely stolen advertisers from the Nation, Village Voice and National Review. And you will soon see an advertiser from the New Yorker running on several big blogs. And magazines like the New Republic and Foreign Policy and Scientific American have noticed blogs… the mags are advertising on ’em.
    So the honchos may not get blogs yet, but the folks in the commercial trenches see which way the wind is blowing.