December 3, 2009

As media gets more democratic, it gets more feminine

bing-maps
The new Bing Maps geotargets Twitter tweets.

Supernova roundup: Media, real-time services — and ‘the end of the Web era’

JD LasicaI spent Wednesday at the Supernova conference in San Francisco, which has morphed over the years from a gathering about mobile and telephony into one that addresses the larger themes sweeping through society: Social media. The real-time Web. Public policy in a connected society. New technologies that rewire our culture.

Given the enormously impressive attendee list, Supernova may now have the highest signal to noise ratio of any conference in the tech galaxy. I’ve written about Supernova in 2004, 2005 (here’s Caterina Fake and a Flickr set), 2006, 2007, and have spoken there twice — and, indeed, it was at Supernova 2004 that Marc Canter and I hatched the plan for Ourmedia‘s launch in March 2005 as the first video hosting and sharing site.

But this year’s Supernova may be the best one yet. It concludes this afternoon.

Please read on — you can skip the next six months of conferences, saving thousands in registration fees, just by reading this blog entry. Some Supernova highlights:

Is media getting more … feminine?

The “Is There a Media Business?” panel provided a lively give and take with the 75 or so participants in the session, and it focused less on the travails of the news business than on the larger forces churning through the media landscape: music and movies as well as news. I found it interesting that I had profiled two of the three participants, Jim Griffin and Cory Ondrejka, in my book Darknet. (You can read the chapter on Griffin at Pho, Cole Porter and Tarzan economics.)

The highlight for me came when Jim Griffin alluded to traditional media as quintessentially male in nature — pushing out product through blunt force and “the need to consummate a relationship without even getting your name” — while Lisa Stone and the panelists agreed that there may be a “feminization of media” underway, where the value comes from creating a relationship that never ends. Lisa called it the “coopetition” model of media, mutually cooperative and competitive.

I think there’s something to this: Social media is all about relationship building, about giving more than taking, and women still top men in that department.

After Lisa cited news publishers’ criticism of Google and the Huffington Post as “technological tapeworms” of the Internet — a few hours earlier Google announced it would restrict access to fee-based news sites — Cory quipped: “Google is handing a gun to mainstream media, ‘Here, go shoot yourself.’ Do you want your customers not to find [your articles]? … Making your content more obscure does not seem like the right approach.”

Griffin said more companies were in effect becoming media entities — like J&J, which purchased and is running BabyCenter.com for new and expectant parents (I used to run its editorial department).

It will take 3 years for Google, the music companies and Hollywood to come to an arrangement that pays stakeholders a share of revenue derived from ads on YouTube.

Midway through I made the point that the music companies and Hollywood studios deserve some credit for not cracking down on the literally millions of copyright violations that are appearing on YouTube every day. And I argued that the marketplace — we, the people — have indeed moved the goal posts over the past three years without the need for Congress to act.

I predict that it will take another three years for Google, the music companies and Hollywood to come to an arrangement that pays the various stakeholders a share of revenue derived from ads on YouTube, some of which will go to the musicians, some to the songwriters, some to the studios and so on. But rights are an enormously thorny bramble bush, and the lawyers and suits will spend years trying to figure out the new rules of the road in the digital age.

Let’s hope that Google will map the way for creative mashup monetization, just as Apple pioneered the way for music companies to enter the digital era after Napster. One hopes that the mashup artist gets a slice of the pie, too. Continue reading

November 24, 2009

The New Journalist in the Age of Social Media

New Media Lab brings together nonprofits, citizen journalists, social media experts

JD LasicaI‘m at Day 2 of a remarkable two-day conference that is bringing nonprofits, citizen journalism and social media together in ways I’ve never seen before.

I’m jazzed, hopeful and intrigued by the challenges ahead. The passion in the room is palpable. The 40 people who convened at the Visioning Summit yesterday in San Francisco, and the 30 participants who are steering the program today, consist of some of the most talented and forward-thinking innovators — nonprofit execs, strategists, journalists from the Bay Area, Miami and Finland — that I’ve come across in recent years.

Above is the presentation I gave at this gathering, organized by a group of nonprofits in a project called the New Media Lab (there’s no public presence yet, just a private wiki). And while its focus is squarely on the role that journalist/media producers will play in our project, it can also be applied to the new roles that journalists should be expected to take up in an age of social media if you work for a startup, whether it’s for-profit or nonprofit.

Called Doing Good 2.0: The next-generation’s impact on communication, media, mobile & civic engagement, it looks at the forces driving Web 2.0 and the next-generation Internet, the role of mobile, the new cultural norms that social media is ushering in, and the role of the New Journalist: how we need to still tell compelling stories about people and causes but how we also need to expand our repertoire in this new arena by wearing multiple hats:

• entrepreneur
• conversation facilitator
• social marketer
• futurist
• metrics & research nerd
• journalist/storyteller

Here are some of the questions we’ve just begun to tackle:

Should nonprofits create their own media?

What should be the business model for social cause organizations in the future?

Continue reading

October 12, 2009

How to make news in the digital era

http://www.davidhenderson.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/digital-era-cover-289x450.pngChris AbrahamIn a world in which everyone seems to be a chicken little speaking of the end of traditional journalism, PR and advertising, there are very few people who are working toward guiding the industry toward success in new new media. Some interesting books about “what’s next” that I am reading are The Chaos Scenario by Bob Garfield and Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson. Add to this list David Henderson’s new book, Making News in the Digital Era, a book that is part analysis, part briefing, and part pathfinder, explicitly guiding readers through the very confusing social media landscape.

In the 170 pages of Making News in the Digital Era, David E. Henderson personally walks his readers safely through the mine field that is new communications, digital PR, and social media marketing. Essential reading.

Continue reading

October 5, 2009

Highlights from ONA 2009

JD LasicaAt first glance, the Online News Association’s annual conference this past weekend looked like a throwback to the early days of Web journalism, with lots of familiar faces from the early days of the esteemed new media group. Jai Singh (now managing editor of the Huffington Post), Staci D. Kramer of paidContent, Joan Walsh of Salon, author Scott Rosenberg, consultant Elizabeth Osder, Jonathan Dube, Tom Regan, academics like Paul Grabowicz and Rosental Alves — one might think the San Francisco Hilton had added a Wayback Machine room.

But the sessions, organized by Josh Hatch of USA Today and his team, were generally engaging and forward-looking, a refreshing contrast to the doom and gloom that afflicts most news industry gatherings. The reason? These are the hands-on new media staffers, not the publishers or top-echelon executives who would clearly prefer if this whole Internet thing went away.

If this conference had a theme, it was: Journalism in the Age of Twitter.

I gave a presentation (online at Slideshare.net) on how journalists can use social media tools to build community, and it found a receptive audience. (See our sister site, Socialbrite.org, for 6 Twitter tips for journalists and 8 ways to use social media in the newsroom. Both include free printable handouts.) By and large, new media teams in online newsrooms are interested in seeing how the new generation of social tools can help advance journalism, which is why I like ONA best of all the media conferences. Continue reading

October 2, 2009

Newspaper social media policies: Out of touch

newspapers - (cc) photo by Zarko Drincic on Flickr
Photo by Zarko Drincic on Flickr

JD LasicaThis year we’ve seen the steady succession of social media policies issued by major news organizations. The common theme that runs through these edicts is that they were written by top managers, with the input of lawyers, who seem to have little understanding of how social media can benefit journalism and news organizations by building community.

It’s as if the top editors in the country got together and decided to roll back the clock to 1995, with no appreciation of the enormous forces that have reshaped media in the year 2009.

First, here are the social media policies from major news organizations that I’ve managed to track down:

• Washington Post’s social media policy (leaked this week)

• New York Times’ social media policy

• Associated Press’s social media policy

• Wall Street Journal’s social media policy

For posterity’s sake and for comparative purposes, I’ve republished all of these on Socialmedia.biz at the links above.

I’ve brought attention to the problems with these policies before, including in this Aug. 3 interview with Mashable. Now, some more specific analysis and deconstruction:

A missed opportunity

twitterFirst, what’s striking about these policies is how they are framed: as a “do not” list instead of a “do well” list. This, unfortunaely, has been the way of the world at the vast majority of newspapers since I entered journalism more than two decades ago.

But what’s even more striking is how social networks are perceived in the executive suites of news organizations: as a threat, a knotty problem, filled with challenges to the traditional way of doing business, rather than as a way for news outlets to reengage with their readers and communities.

None of these policies could have been written by someone who deeply understands social media and what it can offer to traditional news organizations.

Standards of objectivity wobble on their pedestal

The winds of change in the mediasphere have shifted so abruptly over the past three years that newspapers — never agile organizations — have not kept pace with the corresponding shifts in our culture.

The notion that journalists don’t have personal lives or opinions, that they shouldn’t reveal political preferences or engage in civic causes regardless of their beat, that they should be shielded from direct interaction with the public for fear of disclosing a compromising point of view — this is sheer lunacy.

If newspapers die, it will be because they splayed themselves on the altar of objectivity rather than moving to a new kind of relationship that the public is clearly craving for. Continue reading

August 20, 2009

Social networks: 8 ways to engage users with news

JD LasicaHere’s a slightly revised version of the Social Networks: Engaging Users With News webinar I gave to a few hundred virtual attendees when I flew out to the Poynter Institute in Florida in May.

The slideshow offers eight different areas of social networking that news publishers — anyone from a single individual to a full newsroom — can leverage to engage people around news events in a more robust, interactive way. Specifically:

  • Blue skies: new approaches to news
  • Google Map mashups
  • Instant social networks
  • Geocoding and citizen photography
  • The awesomeness of Twitter
  • Widgets: tapping into local conversations
  • Facebook & the news
  • Community video

Continue reading