Tuesday, May 26, 2009
"Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end." - Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
"You write in order to change the world,” American novelist James Baldwin said, “knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter even by a millimeter the way people look at reality, then you can change it."
"To live is to battle with trolls in the vaults of hearts and brain. To write: That is to sit in judgment over one's self." - Henrik Ibsen
"Storytellers who don't tell stories aren't anything. They're nothing at all." - Me (or at least I think it's me... maybe I stoled it;)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
It was recommended I read some (if not all) Harold Innis. What a great suggestion! So far, so amazing!
In Bias of Communication, his thesis/focus discusses the social history of communication media. He believed that cultural stability depends on the balance and proportion of their media. In looking at that theory, he suggests we ask three basic questions:
- How do specific communication technologies operate?
- What assumptions do they take from and contribute to society?
- What forms of power do they encourage?
Still reading... just some food for thought.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
In a tried and true manner, my response to newspapers who want you to subscribe to their "e-Edition": figure it out.
Honestly... Odds are my first move when I hit a pay-for-play barrier is to search out that news elsewhere. Rarely (and by rarely, I mean almost never) do newspapers have the franchise on original content. Yes, someone broke the story, but social communication has likely leaked it all over the blogosphere, or whatever sphere you subscribe to (for free). You need to figure out how to monetize your online incarnation—as every other social communication method has been forced to do (not necessarily successfully, as yet). Change your strategy. There will be method to the madness, I'm sure of it (notice I'm not coming up with any solutions? I'm just bitching).
Don't get me wrong. I love the tactile nature of reading an actual PAPER. Usually just on weekends, and since the baby was born, rarely then, but still, it's something I'd hate to see disappear. So I get it: you need to make money. Again, I say: figure it out.
Generally, I hear a lot of "journalism as we know it is in a crisis," "newspapers as we know them," "news as we know it"... a lot of "as we know" statements decrying the end.
According to a story in salon.com, "daily newspapers are going out of business at an unprecedented rate, and the survivors are slashing their budgets. Thousands of reporters and editors have lost their jobs. No print publication is immune, including the mighty New York Times. As analyst Allan Mutter noted, 2008 was the worst year in history for newspaper publishers, with shares dropping a stunning 83 percent on average. Newspapers lost $64.5 billion in market value in 12 months."
It's a big deal. And yes, as we know it, the industry and many of its participants may, someday, be gone. All portrayed as if we're losing a good friend. And you know what? It's true, to a degree. I don't think it will truly ever disappear, but it's undergoing radical change... or at least it will have to in order to survive. But still, I don't think it's like losing a good friend to cancer or a war. It's like losing a good friend to... marriage.
No, really. As friends get married, start raising families and generally putting others before themselves, the sense, especially amongst males, is that you've "lost" them. But really, they've just changed. And changed for the better.
I don't want to minimize the ramifications of the decline of newspapers "as we know them." However, change is inevitable, and often for the better. Twitter and the blogosphere in general have become my source for information. Not always "news," but a take on what's happening in the world. "Journalists" and reporters are now everywhere, reporting on reports... you have to filter and verify everything, but that in itself is a useful exercise.
So, enough rambling. I wish I had a solution for newspapers that try to make me pay for news I'm sure I can get elsewhere. I think the answer will be found in a marriage of ideas, in a union of business models that will allow the publishing world to not only realize value in their online brands, but how to use that space most effectively.