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Posts Tagged ‘Traditional Media’

Howard Stern has a Moral Obligation to Leave Sirius Radio

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment
Howard Stern's Potential to Burst the Traditional Media Dam by Taking his Show Online

Howard Stern's Potential to Burst the Traditional Media Dam by Taking his Show Online

Like NPR’s Terri Gross, and CUNY Professor Jeff Jarvis, I’m a huge Howard Stern fan.  I listen to nearly all four hours of virtually every show, and the Stern Show is the sole reason I subscribe to Sirius radio.  I cite Gross and Jarvis specifically because they’re highly-intellectual people who illustrate the broad appeal of the show (something that is completely unique in an era of highly-fragmented audiences).

As I see it, Howard Stern has a moral obligation to leave Sirius Radio and take his show completely out of the traditional mass media and stream everything online.

Here’s why:

  1. It goes without saying that Stern commands a huge following.  His decision to go with Sirius is pretty much single-handedly responsible for Sirius’ dominance of the satellite radio market over XM (though it was a Pyrrhic Victory that bankrupted both companies in the process and ended up causing them to consolidate and raise rates).
  2. Internet delivery is really coming into its own as a mass medium, leveling the oligopolies of the traditional media.  This is good for the free market and for consumers as it stands to provide them with greater variety at lower costs.  The lingering problem is that it’s been difficult to monetize Internet media and as a result many institutions are hesitant to make the leap to investing in it.
  3. Given his unique position, were Stern to take his show online he could cause a tipping point that fundamentally changes the economics of Internet media – making it a financially-viable proposition for everyone (in a more powerful way than iTunes legitimized paying for digital downloads of music).

I tend to think that the “Freemium” pricing model would work well for the Stern Show; they could air the audio of the show for free once a day and then charge different levels to get access to podcasts and vodcasts of the show.  They would undoubtedly also command premium advertising rates for anything they do – and unlike “Terrestrial Radio” (a term coined specifically to contrast satellite radio to traditional broadcast radio once Stern drove millions to subscribe to Sirius radio) they could offer advertisers a rich stream of analytics data to help their marketing efforts.  They could also offer a textured and engaging presence in social media (and allow the show to spread farther and faster than satellites or broadcast towers ever could).

Unfortunately I don’t think that Stern will leave; he tends to like working FOR someone as opposed to by himself and he’s somewhat tech-phobic and wary of the new media.  For years he would often wonder aloud what good having a website would do (while simultaneously complaining about how miserable he was being censored by the FCC and gutless station owners).  Here’s a hilarious clip of Jeff Jarvis, Leo Laporte and Gina Trapani laughing at Stern’s reliance on Lotus Notes during an episode of “This Week in Google“:

Here’s to hoping…

CNN’s Craig Newmark Ambush a Great Example of Continuing Shift in PR/Journo Dynamic

August 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Journalists chastise public relations professionals for their lack of professionalism.  It’s not unwarranted; there are a lot of infantile, lazy, selfish, two-faced, disrespectful PR people running around.  Believe me, I know.

That lack of professionalism is a two-way street, though, and if it’s illegitimate for PR flaks to hide behind the demands of their clients – it’s also illegitimate for journalists to hide behind the demands of their editors or ad sales departments.  If we have to own all the crappy PR people – you have to own all of the crappy journalists.  Fair’s fair.

Amber Lyon Ambushing Craig Newmark

Case in point: a few weeks ago, CNN ambushed Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and tried to make him answer for the fact that sex traffickers/sex workers use the service to advertise their services.

It’s the equivalent of me sticking a camera in James Earl “This is CNN” Jones’ face to make him answer for the firing of Octavia Nasr.

There’s a tendency to cower before editors/journalists even when they’re in the wrong because they hold sway over the media (the old “never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel” adage).  That dynamic is increasingly less true because “ink” is now free for everyone.

Both Craig Newmark and Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmeister did a great job taking CNN to the woodshed, knowing that a well-written rejoinder would get the attention of newswatchers on the web (and in the era of social media – any corporate blog has potentially just as broad a reach as CNN.com):

“You knew Craig was not in management or a company spokesperson, but setting CNN’s ethical code aside, you sidestepped company channels in favor of ambushing our semi-retired founder, complete with a misleading “set up” for your surprise questions. Now that CNN has aired your highly misleading piece dozens of times, mischaracterizing your stunt as a serious interview on this subject, and you’ve updated your “bio” to showcase this rare jewel of investigative journalism, you’re ready to try actually interviewing the company itself on this subject.”  (More)

CNN could have taken this story any number of ways that would have given it merit: they could have used it to launch a discussion about the insatiable appetite of the US (and other developed nations) for prostitution, or to have a discussion about the merits of legalizing prostitution in eliminating the brutal exploitation of women, but those directions are boring.  It’s far more satisfying to serve up a villain on a platter to face the self-righteous indignation of the mob.

Amber Lyon's Bio, Already Updated With a Gloating Reference to the Craig Newmark Interview

Amber Lyon's Bio, Already Updated With a Gloating Reference to the Craig Newmark Interview

As viewership of the traditional newsmedia continues to fragment, expect more desperation to retain eyeballs.  If recent history is any guide, that unfortunately means newsmedia will compete with more sensationalism instead of more quality.

The C-suite shouldn’t be afraid to use social media to fire back when fired upon; especially if an organization is already cultivating relationships with customers/stakeholders online.  Odds are you’ll have a direct link to more of your customers than any given news outlet (no matter how mainstream), and the credibility of the news media lately leaves much to be desired.

Sidebar I: One wonders if CNN is going to do a similar ambush of Luke Wilson; after all he’s the figurehead spokesperson for AT&T – and their wireless service was just as integral to facilitating the sample prostitution classified ad Lyon placed on Craigslist (and likely providing the wireless service to Lyon’s Nokia mobile phone that she used to take calls from prospective Johns).

Sidebar II: Also transparently feeble are the deliberate shots showing reporter Amber Lyon using her iPad to pull up Craiglist postings (read: we have iPads so we’re hip and tech-savvy! Watch us, key demo of 18-34 year olds – we’re off the chain in this m-fer, yo!). But I’m not the first person to have my lulz over CNN’s overreliance on tech…

CNN Clumsily Asserting its Tech Savvy With a Forced iPad Shot

CNN Clumsily Asserting its Tech Savvy With a Forced iPad Shot

Did WOOD TV Kill the Golden [Zombie] Goose?

December 3, 2009 7 comments

[Disclosure: I’m not really sure that it’s necessary, but to satisfy my nagging notions of intellectual honesty, I’m compelled to note that I work at GRCC and Rob Bliss is a GRCC student.]

Grand Rapids NBC affiliate WOOD TV 8 just announced that it hired social networker Rob Bliss as a “multi-platform account executive” (which sounds like a euphemism for “social networker for hire”).  Their hope is that Bliss will help the station “reach a new generation of media consumers.”

I must confess disappointment.  I’m of the opinion that Bliss’ appeal comes from the fact that his social experiments were organized for the fun of it.  By trying to monetize the experience (or use it to attract eyeballs for advertisers) he stands to lose a measure of his authenticity (and thusly his ability to attract followers).

Granted his events already were being monetized around the fringes; sponsors underwrote the costlier events, local watering holes were hosting after-parties and there were some limited sales of event-specific items.  The primary motivation for the events, however, remained “pure” in that it was purely social experimentation (how many people can he get to unite in a common activity).  With commercialism being the primary factor now driving the events, I worry WOOD’s move has robbed Grand Rapids of one of its “unique value propositions” (as one might say in businessspeak).

By way of example, my recollection is that donations/sales of T-shirts at the last Zombie Walk did not go well and they ended up with something in the neighborhood of a $6,000 deficit.

What follows will be interesting to watch because I tend to think it has implications for the use of social media (and how much commercial interference audiences will tolerate to participate in an enjoyable experience).  Unfortunately I think that introducing the profit motive will turn off a large portion of Bliss’ audience (who, as members of Gen Y, are deeply mistrustful of the traditional media and corporate America). Having a pillow fight for the fun of it is one thing.  Having a pillow fight to sell cars for a local car dealership is entirely another.

I hope I’m wrong.

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