the grass is greener on the internet


“Grandma, what’s a newspaper?”
November 3, 2008, 7:12 pm
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“Grandma?” The child will look up, with such a cheerfully angelic look that you know the next question must be particularly nasty.

“Yes dear,” I will reply, trying to keep a stereotypical wobble out of my voice.

“Can I ask you something?”

I will smile indulgently, and silently wish I hadn’t agreed to babysit. The child will widen its eyes, and ask incredulously…

“Grandma, what’s a newspaper?”

You can see it from the way the news has been dissected on blogs – everyone is telling you the latest news about why newspapers are dead. Very few are analysing it.

That’s the way online goes. The massive advantage your newsfeed has over the humble paper is that you can get the latest information as it comes in. It happens, then it appears on your RSS feed. Amazing. There’s no way you could ever have enough paperboys to achieve that with print.

But let’s be honest. It’s a scramble.

I read about a dozen different articles on the crash of the Aussie dollar a week ago. What I got from each was either a parrot of the last story, or the basic facts and a couple of random comments.

They didn’t tell me a story, they gave me a couple of facts. Now having several sources is good, it can help confirm that what you’ve read is correct. Unfortunately with the web, there’s the tendency to just repeat what you’ve read in another source in a different way. I had to sit down, read every article and put the pieces together.

This is where online’s benefit turns into a disadvantage; because you CAN get stories out faster, it becomes so that you HAVE to.

Several journalists have already bemoaned this as a death of their art, which is fair. It’s been labelled as ‘churnalism’ in some circles. How do you write a decent story when the main pressure is to get it out before everyone else?

This means that newspapers have the benefit of time.

They need to use it. If you can’t do it better, do it different. If you can’t do it as fast, give me a story that justifies the wait. Interviews. Analysis.

Those would be my directions to newspaper operators right now…

Would you tell them the same? Tell them to divest?

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Prosumers and churnalism

I have two new words for the day:: prosumer and churnalism.

The first came from the AMI Marketing Week seminar I was at today, given by John Gamvros of OMD Fuse on the role of brands in consumer’s lives. He focussed mostly on leveraging new technologies and what implications they would have on brand-building. With more opportunities for consumers to create their own content and interact with brands, we’re morphing into a society of prosumers (producers and consumers). Key lesson:: be prepared to let go of some control, and if you’ve done your homework right you’ll have much better brand engagement.

He also showed us the video below, which paints a scary picture for the future and brought out the term ‘prosumer’ about a year ago.

I really hadn’t been thinking of social marketing interactions like that, so ‘prosumer’ may be cropping up in my posts from now on.

The second term was aired quite vehemently on the 7.30 Report tonight (and I don’t think any other channel would have dared to air the story). Ah, churnalism just describes itself so accurately. And sadly, it’s true that a lot of news stories feel like they’ve come straight from a PR department or someone elses news feed. Supposedly the phenomena comes from– well, bluntly, overworking of journalists. It’s entirely possible that this would lead to journos not having enough time and lowering their standards, bringing the standard down in general. However, I think it’s also a matter of society in general not having the time or bothering to check more than one news source, and not bringing them into line.

I’m definitely no expert in this area, so I’ll probably read up it’s origin in ‘Flat Earth News’ by Nick Davies before I start using it prolifically, after all a Guardian veteran should have a fair idea. Right?

B&T, or anybody who happens to be listening right now:: I used to be an avid follower of B&T’s news service, bringing me the latest of Australia’s advertising news…but no more!

Why? Their RSS feed isn’t working.

…and it hasn’t been for weeks now. Please B&T, fix your RSS feed, or update the link which is on your homepage. I feel like you’re not communicating with me and I don’t want it to get in the way of our relationship. 😉

It will be my experiment in social media, which just so happens to be useful. (As all effective social media should be!) Indulge me a little and post to your own blogs. Let’s see how long this takes, or if it happens at all!