Davos07: Media notes

I spent much of the first day at Davos in a session of the International Media Council, a gathering of leading lights. A few moments and quotes:

* Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, told what he called a random story — it’s a perfect tale for the medium and the age — about empowering collaboration. His sophomore year at Harvard, while starting his company, he failed to study at all for one of his courses; he didn’t even go to class. So days before the final, he pulled all the pictures he needed to analyze off the web and put them up on a page online with boxes underneath. He emailed the class and said he’d put up a study guide. Sure enough, in moments, the students filled in their essential knowledge on the art. Zuckerberg got an A. And the prof told him that the grades in the class improved 10 percent over previous years.

It’s a magnificent lesson in everybody winning with cooperation: exactly the lesson big media must learn.

Zuckerberg is the country’s best panelist (and I’ll apologize to him if this lands him on more panels) because he is unfailingly direct and honest: politely blunt. He was asked about newspaper and magazine efforts to establish social communities around the the nation into reporters, armed with camera phones; they get thousands of photos from news events and beat all competitors — thanks to this cooperation — and pay for these photos. Nick Kristof from The New York Times is doing some of the most amazing work in journalism to both present his stories across all appropriate media and also to involve his public in the story (see his recent effort to have people remix his raw reporting). (Arianna Huffington called Kristof’s “obsessiveness” on Drafur “unbelievably bloggy”). I heard from a TV anchor who breaks news in his blog and sees the line between his time in front of a camera or a keyboard to be merging into one. I talked with editors around the world who are inviting bloggers into the newsroom to meet and doing things with them.

[Note that this session, like others at Davos, was off-the-record under the Chatham House rule: one may not quote someone by name without permission. They say they do this to encourage more open discussion. In a prior Davos meeting, of course, then-CNN-President Eason Jordan created a storm when he talked about journalists hurt by military fire, which was blogged and w hich lead to his departure from CNN. The rules about what was on- or off-the-record apparently weren’t so clear but now they are clearer. We can write about any session held in the main hall; all others operate under the Chatham House rule.]

  • Jeff, I have added this to Comment is Free but may not be the right place. Please mention if you meet someone from the Guardian.

    My question is for Alan Rusbridger or anyone from the Guardian who cares to comment. When will the print version of the Guardian explain to the readers what the thinking is about an apparent strategy to transition to the web? At the We Media event last year in London, it was suggested that only some news organisations would make the transition. The Guardian policy seems to be to avoid any reference to this in print that might disturb the paying UK audience while leaking all kinds of rhetoric through Buzzmachine to build an online following for advertisers. The Media section often covers ABC figures on print circulation without any mention of the web activities of the same news organisations. This makes very little sense. There was discussion of including digital editions in the ABC numbers but not much has happened. Why is this?

    Apparently the Davos discussion on Digital Futures is under “Chatham House rules” so the blogging public are not much the wiser. However, Richard Sambrook repeated something that may have come from somewhere…

    …a neat way of differentiating journalists and bloggers. “Bloggers suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, journalists suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder.” In other words, journalists report and move on and don’t always follow up. Bloggers are obsessive, get hold of an issue and won’t let go….

    So these questions will come up again.

    Meanwhile why not offer Jeff Jarvis a page on a Saturday somewhere near the main editorial to summarise what has previously been hidden away?

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  • Alan Rusbridger did answer the question in his comment from Davos.


    However I think the version of his words published in print had less rather than more compared to the original post so the comments have not added anything and Jeff Jarvis is still ahead in refining the printed version based on a blog.

  • The Zuckerberg story resonates with me because I believe in the power of laziness. If you watch Roxanne of Beachwalks.tv, you might remember this episode, the genesis of which was a post I did on my blog. The point is that many times innovation and invention comes from simply not wanting to do dog work.

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