Posts from September 18, 2004

New media and more new media

New media and more new media

: Watching Tim Russert on CNBC now. He and his guests are acknowledging the power of blog, saying all the things we all have been saying for a year now. And then he says the only major interviews Kerry has given in recent weeks have been to Jon Stewart, Don Imus, and on Monday, David Letterman. Big Media not so big anymore.

Inside Lileks’ head


Inside Lileks’ head

: Just saw Sky Captain and I felt as if I had entered James Lileks’ head (through his ear, after hacking through the hair we middle-aged men grow).

The scenery — all computer-generated — is filled with the things I’ve seen James stop in the middle of sidewalks to gape at. We know he was looking forward to the flick; can’t wait to read the full reaction.

: The flick is a throwbck in so many ways, not just graphical. It takes us back to a time when everyone believed that both soldiers and reporters could save the world.

: But I am tired of movies that warn about the dangers of technology. OK, we know about it already. Spam. Viruses. Bad cell phones. Been there.

: Oh, and the movie’s pretty good. It’s not as thrilling as the reviews let me to believe it would be. But the graphics are great.

Live by the gotcha, die by the gotcha

Live by the gotcha, die by the gotcha

: Doc, like me, didn’t stay on top of the Rather story — and many of you piled on top of both of us because of it. But after reading and due consideration, he writes a wise post today. Money quote and conclusion:

That credibility has never been better than every good journalist’s commitment to do the best they can, under the circumstances (which usually involve constrained time and resources). Which is to say compromised, though understandably so. What’s changed is the involuntary outsourcing of fact-gathering and -checking to a growing assortment of amateurs and professionals who are largely external to the profession. What we need isn’t competition between blogs and mainstream news outlets, but a working symbiosis between the two….

Right now Dan and CBS are losing the same Gotcha! game they’ve played for decades on 60 Minutes. I don’t think that’s any kind of poetic justice, or karma, or anything to cheer. It’s a tragic story.

Because the truths we need to know aren’t just the one Gotcha!s expose. And getting to those will take another kind of journalism: one we won’t copy off TV, and we won’t need to save

New net news

New net news

: Germany’s wonderful net-only newspaper, NetZeitung, under the leadership of the good Dr. Michael Maier, is about to spawn its next generation.

I’ve long followed and liked NetZeitung and I’ve had the privilege of meeting Dr. Maier, a journalist with amazing credentials and also a nice guy. Maier believes in the value of reporting and editing; his netpaper is not a product of interactivity (they played with a blog only for awhile; I think they could do more to capture the value of citizens’ media; see the post below).

Now he’s stealing a beat from GoogleNews (and Moreover and RSS) and adding feeds of headlines from other sources to every story. (I talked with Google long ago about trying to license their categories of headlines to do just that on my day-job sites; they never got around to it; their opportunity missed. Looking at two better alternatives now.)

Here’s Maier’s column announcing the changes (auf Deutsch) with my bad translation:

…The Netzeitung will soon appear in a whole new form: We’re integrating a news search so that next to Netzeitung’s classic articles, you’ll find articles of other media. After every article a link list will appear automatically.

Maier says they’ve identitied 200 quality sources — “unlike traditional search engins, Netzeitung will offer journalistic quality” — and now he asks their readers for help finding more small quality sources in specialized areas, including weblogs.

I’ll predict, Dr. Maier, that you’ll soon find that the greatest value you provide isn’t your own articles — though that has value — but the bringing together of the best and latest coverage of — and perspectives on — stories. And don’t skimp on the blogs!

It’s about trust

It’s about trust

: Ross Mayfield riffs on Tim Oren’s riff on the unbundling of media — accelerated by news scandals like Rathergate (my riff here). He focuses on the issue of trust.

Someone pointed out to me today that Rathergate is unfortunately an adversarial event. Most blogged to death and fact-checked ass issues are because identities are so strong.

Brand can get too strong. That makes Rather want to own the story — rather than get to the truth. You see, if he wanted to get to the truth, he’d quote (or in our world, link to) all the other reports and questions and fact-checking. But he and too many other journalists think they are the trusted ones — they have the standards and reputation, right? right? — and by going to all these others — even amateurs, even mere citizens — they dilute their brands; that’s how they delude themselves. Of course, the irony is that the exact opposite then occurs: By not linking to others, by “standing by our story” in the face of evidence and arguments they ignore, these guys only dilute their own trust and thus their brands. In the end, because their brand is too strong, they set themselves up for a fall; bigger the brand, bigger the fall (see: Howell Raines).

In this new world of ours, trust — like everything else — is distributed. The bundling of citizens — instead of content — wields the wisdom of the crowd.

Ross sees that happening in wikis, of course, since he’s the leading thinker and doer in that end of this new world: “To see the future of trust in media, look how strangers are learning to trust each other by sharing control with wikis.” He also argues that the trust of strangers and the value of that trust increases with time and volume (see: Wikipedia).

I see it in blogs, too, of course. The ability for people to so quickly link to each other and add to each other’s knowledge and effort in Rathergate produces a new level of trust and credibility.

But then there’s so much sharing of knowledge that it gets out of hand and it’s hard to figure out where to start. That’s when Ernest Miller steps in to add value by summarizing it all (or for another example of the value of summary — with perspective — see Nick Kristof’s column on Kerry v. Swifties today). Imagine if everyone had also contributed to the Rather wikki.

All this does tie back to Tim’s riff: There are shifts of trust and value and new opportunities to be had in this. To obnoxiously quote my riff:

In this new distributed, unbundled, post-marketplace, molecular, commoditized media world, value can be added in many ways. It’s about relationships. It’s about relevancy. It’s about service. It’s about uniqueness. It’s about perspective.

All these riffs are rather vague. That is, in part, because it’s early and formative discussion; that is also, in part, because some of the people linking to Tim have business ideas they’re not ready to part with.

What’s so fascinating about Tim’s post is that he takes a social issue — news and trust — and measures it through a business perspective. I have always said that in the news business, our only asset is credibility. Tim is now measuring the declining value of that asset in the midst of scandal and in the face of new, trusted competition.

: Meanwhile, Hugh MacLeod looks at the employment implications of all this.