Points to Forbes

I was terribly impressed picking up the Forbes 90th anniversary issue. No stodgy, self-congratulatory looking back there. The entire issue is devoted to “the power of networks.”

And online, they prove they get it by putting up an org-chart wiki asking us all to tell all about the organization of companies we know. They say: “It’s a new way to tap the collective knowledge of our community…” That’s the sort of thing I would have — should have — expected from new-fangled Portfolio, not from old Forbes. Instead, Portfolion gave us a bunch of old-fangled magaziney features. Go figure.

In the network package, Rupert Murdoch (whom I happened to run into on the street in Manhattan today, moments after buying the magazine, and whose confab in Carmel I’m attending in a week . . . who needs a network when you have New York?) says:

Traditional companies are feeling threatened. I say, bring on the changes. . . .

Those of us in so-called old media have also learned the hard way what this new meaning of networking spells for our businesses. Media companies don’t control the conversation anymore, at least not to the extent that we once did. The big hits of the past were often, if not exactly flukes, then at least the beneficiaries of limited options. Of course a film is going to be a success if it’s the only movie available on a Saturday night. Similarly, when three networks divided up a nation of 200 million, life was a lot easier for television executives. And not so very long ago most of the daily newspapers that survived the age of consolidation could count themselves blessed with monopolies in their home cities.

All that has changed. . . .

Companies that take advantage of this new meaning of network and adapt to the expectations of the networked consumer can look forward to a new golden age of media. [T]he future of media is a future of relentless experimentation and innovation, accelerating change, and–for those who embrace the new ways in which consumers are connecting with each other–enormous potential.

YouTube’s Chad Hurley adds:

We are at an unprecedented time in the history of entertainment media. Never before has the opportunity been so great for independent writers and actors, musicians and producers to create compelling content on par with the studios, networks and labels. With easy and affordable access to cameras, editing software and computing power, the playing field has been truly leveled. . . .

YouTube represents the first time media has become truly democratic for both the audience and the content creators.

Continuing this superlativefest, Howard Dean says:

The Internet is the most significant tool for building democracy since the invention of the printing press. People are now easily able to create, discover and connect with networks within hours, anywhere around the globe.

This connectedness is creating a huge shift in power as ordinary citizens decide what’s important and most relevant to them. They can network with like-minded individuals to create a technology-enabled global grassroots movement. . . .

Fundamental trust in your users is the only way to have a successful relationship with them.

That is a revolutionary idea, one that politicians are not particularly comfortable with. But it’s now the reality. The power in campaigns now belongs as much to these shifting networks of committed citizens as it does to the political establishment.

  • Jake

    Shouldn’t the title of this post be called, “Rupert Murdoch caught telling truth?”

  • For Jake: HEAR HEAR!!!

  • That’s interesting – I thought the issue was a complete waste of time, and in fact, tossed it after the first “article”. The reason I subscribe to Forbes or to any business magazine is to for insightful reporting & analysis, not self-congratulatory articles by CEO’s. It felt like a bad blog compilation, but larded with so many ad pages and special ad sections that I thought I was reading Vanity Fair.

    Of course, Fortune launched the Fortune 500 issue this week, which also appears to have almost no reporting or analysis, but is full of long charts that are really more suitable for a website than a magazine.

    Did the business magazines finally figure out that it is cheaper to eliminate talented staff and just publish charts? It’s a sad day when blog posts are providing more analysis and business coverage than the key magazines.

  • Chris Newman

    With the ever changing technology, the power is definitely in the hands of the people. With the rise of YouTube and other outlets, people have a wealth of news at their fingertips. The “so called old media” has evolved, but they could have never foreseen the rise of YouTube and blogs. The org-chart wiki on the Forbes website gives the users the power to control the content. With breaking news, users are providing many media outlets the content they wouldn’t normally have.

  • Never like now news has become entertainment.
    And the good entertainment, the one people like, is that which involves themselves.
    Either as writer or just commenters.

    Once we had the NEWS, where somebody wrote, possibly in good English, what was happening or had happened or what he thought right to say.
    Now “Fundamental trust in your users is the only way to have a successful relationship with them.”
    Translated in common words: let the people talk, because that is what they like, that is why they read, that is what creates sales.
    Better or worse?
    As in everything there is something better and there is something worse.
    But one thing is for sure: there is something more and that more is that News is not anymore a monologue, but it is getting more and more a dialogue, which is very good…

  • Paw

    As is typical in these conversations, Hurley neglects to discuss a fundamental aspect of the brave new world – how will the creators of all this content be compensated for their efforts?

    Hurley is a thief. He steals copyrighted material, compensates himself for its use and tries to tell his victims it’s good for them. He lauds the efforts of “independent writers and actors, musicians and producers creating compelling content on par with the studios, networks and labels”. He just doesn’t want to pay them. How long can this situation last? It takes time and effort to create compelling content, even in your own home. And how many of his so-called homegrown stars ever find their way to a payday after Youtube? Heard much from Lonelygirl15 lately?

    As far as Murdoch is concerned, he’s not really in the news business, in the sense of news gathering. His version of news (TV news specifically, which is the most lucrative by far) basically consists of talking heads yelling at each other. There’s no real news gathering at Fox News Channel at all. While it’s certainly an innovative business model, it can hardly be called news. As far as entertainment is concerned, Fox Broadcasting, like all other traditional networks, continues to live in the old Hollywood system, hamstrung by the guilds and their own fear of operating outside that system. Same with the movie studio. He’s not really thinking out of the box here – talking the talk but not necessarily walking the walk.

  • So where is the Forbes Org Chart?

  • It’ll be great to continue to see the fresh faces that come out of the independent audience. I think it’d be great to see something like an independent reporter, relaying their perspective on the war and such. Is this sort of thing out there- links anyone? Im curious. -NewsMax