Martin Stabe has some of the best media links going.
by Jeff Jarvis
I spent some time on the phone this morning with Ed Roussel, head of online for the Telegraph, as he was quite properly crowing about the paper-site’s scoop last night on the hiring of BBC Chairman Michael Grade by struggling ITV. It’s big and surprising news in the U.K. and Telegraph editor-at-large Jeff Randall, a former BBC business editor, got the story way ahead of the competition — which, as Roussel enumerated, includes the BBC, which lost its boss; Murdoch’s Sky, which just invested in ITV; and the Guardian, the Telegraph’s fiercest competitor, which emphasizes its media coverage. The Telegraph has been taking its lumps from that fierce competitor for its shakeups and layoffs but I’m sympathetic on that score; revolution is not painless.
But I was curious about how the Telegraph’s integration of online and print in its much-vaunted Star Wars was going. Roussel said the Grade story was a model for how it should work on a new platform that can cut across all media and tools: The story went online at 9:50 p.m. and in no time, they put up audio and video and more content, forcing those competitors listed above to attribute the news to the Telegraph. Roussel said there is no more debate about putting stories online first. He said they are gaining advantage by hiring people like Randall, who have TV experience, and also by sending all staff through a week’s multimedia training. And he argued that the Telegraph newsroom — which puts him next to his print counterparts and tries to break down the barriers among departments and media — “made a huge difference, and I’m not bullshitting you” in getting last night’s scoop out. I asked what the endpoint is and how far along they are toward it. Roussel said it is when journalists respond like Randall, telling the story in all appropriate media: “Here’s your tool kid; how are you going to use it?” He thinks they are two-thirds of the way there.
Interestingly, Roussel argues that not only the newsroom is changing but so is the public. He says that people are more likely now to join in collaborative. They are getting soldiers to video their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq (some of it too gruesome to show, Roussel says). And when they asked their readers to show the impact of warming on their gardens (there will always be an England), more than 600 sent in photos. Networked journalism, that is.
Roussel emphasizes that that they are not getting it all right and that they have contractual issues with print and online staff, workflow issues primarily involving production, and technical issues (what newspaper doesn’t?). But he says that the full story of the Telegraph’s successes is not being told.
Because I’m a media wonk, I’m fond of the coverage of the industry in British papers — it may be a bit much for some but I wish we had more such coverage here. And I also wish we had more competition here, for that would improve this coverage. By this afternoon, the Guardian responded late, by necessity, but compensated with volume; I count 27 links to coverage, including even a special-edition podcast. The Independent had up just a few links, but the BBC had more than a dozen. Sadly, the Press Gazette folded this week, so it was silent. Overdose? Not for media porn junkies. And that is the real moral to this story: competition is good for it is spawning innovation.
Simon Caulkin in the Observer on innovation and media:
Take the rise of the bloggers. This is no simple accident of technology, but the price newspapers are paying for having treated readers as passive consumers without bothering to find out more about them as news users. In the same way, artificial TV reality shows are being challenged by the mushrooming growth of permanent reality spaces like YouTube, MySpace, Etribes and others, and 3D virtual-reality sites such as Second Life.
No one knows where these trends will end. Of course, traditional media companies are pitching in to buy up anything with Web 2.0 pretensions, however remote. But as the AOL-Time Life debacle graphically showed, there is no necessary synergy between old and new media, and unless attitudes to customers change radically, they may find that the benefits of innovation are not easily bought.
I find it amazing that the PR Newswire would be worth $1 billion. They distribute press releases and charge for the privilege. In a world of links, anyone who wants your flackerie, your company line, can come to your company site. But, of course, you’ll still want those who don’t want your stuff to see it and you’ll want writers to read it. But the days when one organization could charge for having a conduit to newsrooms is likely short-lived as is the value of getting just to newsrooms.
Rarely is a puff piece so well-deserved as the one about TVNewser Brian Stelter in today’s NY Times — on Page One, yet. He is, indeed, a phenom.
The moral to the story is pretty much the same as the one in David Carr’s column on TMZ.com: “TMZ is yet another lesson — a depressing one for old media types — in the Web’s ability to create a brand at breakneck speed.”
Depressing unless you’re the one building it.