WNYC Radio on “TV”

I’m a big fan of NPR -- not just because I’m in the 40-something, socially liberal, reasonably monied, Manhattanite, intelektual, granola-eating demographic -- but also because in addition to giving quality information and occasional good laughs on humor shows, it’s also been pretty good at making sure its material is available via the Web and podcast, and giving lots of other material to delve deeper. Some of the shows are also quite good at encouraging audience interaction and feedback, via not only phone but also blog or email or comment board.

My local station, WNYC, is great at all the above, and also available on YouTube. Or, rather, pieces of many of the high-quality talk show interviews are. Seeing them this way has a couple of plusses: It’s oddly compelling to watch Alice Walker or Daniel Schorr or Arianna Huffington or one of the other myriad high-quality guests at the the mic, and see how they looked while they were talking, even though it’s a static grainy picture.

It’s also a way to quickly survey who was on the channel organized in a way that’s not available on the WNYC site -- not by show and topic, but rather by guest in either chronological or “favorited” order. Plus the thumbnail photos make the scan easier. Sometimes the eye recognizes John Edwards’ face more quickly than his written name. Wonderful how the cross-referencing and digitization of information leads to new ways of looking at it.

New Primetime(s) - Program for Noon

Magazine Publishers of America writes that the new prime time for Web video is noon. Jim Louderbeck of Revision3 says, via PaidContent, "there are now three primetimes beer-drinking relaxers at 8pm-11pm; bored office workers at 12pm-2pm and now young male geeks at home12am-4am on a Saturday night:"I’ll leave it to you to figure out what they’re looking for."

Noon, we've known about for years. And it moves across the country along with the timezones. Lunchtime, people log on from their fast at-work connections. We've also sometimes seen the uptick in the evening. Saturday late night is a new one.

Twitter and the Zeitgeist

I’ve said (and perhaps blogged -- who can remember) that while I find Twittering for its own sake inane, from a societal perspective utility will come when enough people Tweet that a cloud is created to monitor the zeitgeist. So, let’s say a few hundred, or thousand, people give their thoughts on the Pope from inside his talk at Yankee Stadium. Or a bunch of people from a disaster zone (this is not them asking for help -- which is also valid -- but rather getting an idea of the general tenor of a situation): panicked; need help; all’s fine; more food. And so on. Amalgamate them and we can start to get a sense of what folks think or feel, at least feel enough to Tweet.

Today, BuzzMachine pointed to Twisorti, which parses for emotive words like “love” or “believe” or “wish”. It’s a start of the kinds of intelligence that will become the semantic Web. Imagine if the application were smart enough to not only search for specific words, but look at Tweets in general, and see what trends and thoughts are emerging, in general. Cross-reference that with search or SMS messages ... well, you get it; it becomes a read on “society” -- or at least the society that’s using the technology. (And of course, if we want to put our marketing hats on, a way for brands to monitor messages, at some point.) Even better is if and when the cloud can include not just Tweets, but all the bursts from everywhere. Like, whatever becomes the main competitor to Twitter. (Because, as we noted earlier, Twitter has a problem that may hinder its survival.)

Intel Chief: Don’t Follow My Tips

The fifth of five tips from Intel CEO Paul Otellini in today’s WSJ interview of him: “Be careful about tips: No set of rules meets everyone’s needs.” Nice.

He also indirectly notes how carriers might become competitors of phone manufacturers. Both are inquiring with Intel about chips, he says.

It’s About the Apps, Stupid

Both the CNET “Outside the Lines” blog post on Yahoo working to reinvent itself and the CNET blog Webware, on shortcomings in Twitter apps, are making a larger point that it’s all about developers, coders. Yahoo, the first piece makes clear, is keying itself up to let developers write code to bring various forms of Yahoo! to the masses. “We are rewiring Yahoo from the inside out with a developer platform that will open up the assets of Yahoo in a way never done before, making the consumer experience social throughout and provide hooks to developers,” says Yahoo’s CTO at the Web 2.0 Expo. (One of the apps pictured, showing what customized Yahoo Mail is supposed to look like, looks so much like Facebook.)

Webware’s Rafe Needleman, meanwhile, argues that Twitter won’t ever take off (and make money) unless it better opens up its API (programming interface) to allow third parties to more seamlessly integrate with it. He came across problems when a bunch of applications he let’s interface with his Twitter account shut it down without warning.

Our new creative class is coders. And they’re leading the consumers.

Why Isn't Anyone a Reporter, Anymore?

Doesn't "reporter" sound better than "journalist"? Former sounds like you're digging up info. Latter, like you're just a scrivener.

Where the Mindsets of Journalism and Advertising Converge

Journalism and advertising are in a sometimes uneasy embrace. The latter supports the former, but those who produce the journalism profess to be uninterested in the ads or those who use them to reach their intended audiences.

I can’t help but notice, though, a bit of similarity in the overarching calls of the folks on both sides of the divide, to engage audiences, get their participation and buy-in. We have folks in journalism discussion groups talking about how much the publications need to engage users, get them to participate, break the old top-down, one-to-many mindset. Then we have advertising execs talking about how they need to engage audiences, get them to interact with the brand -- whether it’s widgets with applications, or clickthrough to a website or discussions on their own sites’ comment areas. Now we have a media buy for Kellogg, where the publisher, Kidzworld, is getting paid for “engagement” -- whether people play with the ad. Says Ad Age:

Since Kidzworld doesn't offer the same reach as a Nickelodeon, Disney or Cartoon Network, it needs a different value proposition for marketers. ... ... Though Kidzworld does assume a certain amount of risk with a deal like this, coming up with alternative ways to measure campaigns is becoming increasingly important as marketers grow disenchanted with measures like cost-per-click and cost-per impressions

Aside: The same AdAge email that tells me of the engagement also notes the resignation of David Verklin, who told me that engagement, not reach and freuqency, is the new sine qua non.

Starbucks, Dell and Now Dilbert

Can’t be a joke, can it? On the heels of discussion of Starbucks and Dell reaching out to their customers to have the community of patrons tell them what to do, we’ve got Dilbert asking users to make the last panel of a comic strip (with various complaints about the technology).

From Muckety:
The revamped site, which debuted Friday, includes animation, colorized strips, an expanded archive, a “most popular” section, as well as the area where visitors can write their own punch lines. A software filter is supposed to prevent readers from posting offensive content by converting certain four-letter words to the “&*@!”-style cursing of comic strips.

Everyone’s got their users working overtime getting engaged.

Crovitz: In Media Consumers Have it Better than Business

Former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz’ inaugural commentary for the paper today repeats a fair amount of what he told the Chicago School of Business last month : that James Rothschild was annoyed over how the telegraph leveled the information playing field (and that we tend to overestimate technology’s effect in the short-run, and underestimate it long-run. (Witness the initial hype over the Web at first, and how it’s now part of daily life with little fanfare.)

But a lot of what he said at the CSB speech -- a thoughtful analysis of today’s media landscape -- wasn’t in the column and bears repeating. One crucial point he made was that B2B information applications now often lag behind consumer ones. Consumer-focused products tend to have better interfaces and applications than the high-priced business and financial services ones. He calls this a “real challenge for the B2B industry, which has so far been less affected by the digital age than B2C.”

“Much of the innovation is based on the broad consumer market,” B2C rather than the B2B market, he says. This is a see change. It’s been a given that people pay handsomely for business-oriented information, and get real value from it. But Crovitz notes that financial professionals with high-priced terminals at their desks today will often turned to Yahoo Finance. This movement has big implications for B2B information providers.

Other points he makes:

* Subscription plus ad revenue “works very well” as a revenue model. (In other words, the WSJ is smart to have subscriptions and ads; new owners News Corp., of course, considered doing away with them.
* Software and information are more powerful together than separate. “Information and software are more closely linked and mutually dependent than ever before. Changes in each affect the other. “The great changes in computing power” have shifted the information industry, changes in information have affected software..
* Neither content nor distribution is king: the consumer is.

Bilal Hussein Freed

Glad to see the Iraqi photographer who works for the AP is free. Still hard to understand why he was held for two years.

Implications of an Olympic Boycott

It’s generally felt that the Olympics will be one of two main reasons the U.S. advertising market doesn’t completely tank this year. (The other is political ad spending -- which is why local TV stations hope the Obama-Clinton imbroglio continues.)

among major advertising outlets -- meaning, basically, TV -- the Olympics and presidential elections are the two main things that will keep the dollars up this year.

So, if there’s a boycott of any kind, the effects will be felt in media. There are already some saying they won’t be watching, or buying from sponsors.

Journalists as Marketers

The person who started the Poynter discussion on increasing frequency of visits to newspaper websites, Steve Yelvington, asked what needs to be done to get more readership. One of his posits:

“Maybe we need to cut news staffs and hire marketers so we can get people to read the news?”

In today’s world (indeed, also in the tabloid world), journalist and marketer are not necessarily two different skills. Someone who writes a front-page or teaser headline must be a marketer. Today’s journalism requires the flexibility to not only conceive the story from multiple story-telling techniques, but also in multiple displays -- headline-only link, RSS feed, and so on, whatever is needed to entice someone.

Newspapers and 'Frequency'

There’s been a discussion on a Poynter Institute journalism discussion group about how to increase pageviews, bring in new traffic to newspaper websites, to increase ad impressions. My friend and mentor Vin Crosbie points out how numbers from the Newspaper Association of America show that even for the best of the best newspaper, users are coming only an average of once per week, and spending only five minutes per session on the site.

Meanwhile, another colleague (and a recent client), Amy Gahran, has asked why newspaper execs are limiting their vision to commoditized pageviews on websites. Shouldn’t they be thinking more about how to add ad revenues to feeds, mobile distribution, RSS, widgets and the like? She’s right: destination is dead.

And I’ll add a third thought: Newspapers aren’t really a single general-interest publication, but rather -- in a digital age -- an amalgam of targeted niches. Sure, in print, it’s one branded publication that you hold in your hands. But on the Web, it’s a local sports “vertical,” a local business “vertical” and so on. While the general interest local news areas of the site will probably remain commoditized, the more targeted areas with a high interest and usership should be sold separately and at a higher CPM. If the frequency is as low as Vin says, that can be made a strength, by asking advertisers to understand they’re buying engaged readership. David Verklin, the CEO of Aegis Americas, a major ad buying firm, argued to me recently (for a research report being released soon by JackMyers Media Business Report that someone who spends time with an ad, say, clicks through to a website or plays with an application, is “engaged,” and that means they’re worth a lot more than a the old measures of reach and frequency.

Off the Media: Ethics, Anyone?

Last post, I wrote about journalistic ethics -- and how the noted journalist Brian Storm thinks that having ethics doesn’t equate objectivity and that journalists should take sides.

Now, comes On the Media, raising the question of whether a journalist “above all else” is supposed to be a neutral observer. No, says Storm, while OTM co-host Bob Garfield seems to take it for granted. Meaning, make the “objective” more important than the human.

I’ve already said there’s no such thing as being objective -- we’re all culture- and situation- and perspective-bound. Should be an good discussion.

The Price of Objectivity

At the Brian Storm (of MediaStorm.org) Hearst Foundation New Media Lecture at Columbia J. school. Brian talks about the fallacy of objectivity, or at leas the fallacy of being unwilling to be an advocate, pointing to Darfur, and that it was extremely hard to produce a piece for the non-advocacy Council on Foreign Relations about what’s happening there. “I think Bashir is a bad person,” and should go, he says of the Sudanese leader.

“If you’re a journalist and you don’t have an agenda, you don’t have a pulse,” Brian says much later. Sometimes you have to push hard to get [an audience] to give a shit on the things they should care about,” whether its the Sudan, Rwanda, post-Katrina New Orleans or danger to elephants.

Fascinating to hear him toe this line, which must be anathema to many in these hallowed journalistic halls. Brian notes how when working at MSNBC he was not allowed, for example, to put music in documentary work -- something he does regularly now (and a question about which sparked the discussion).

“Ethics, I do have them,” he says, implicitly arguing that advocacy is actually a more ethical position.

Objectivity, I would argue, is damn near impossible. Where you point the camera, even how you frame the shot, let alone the quotes you choose or the point you make when writing, or what-not, are all choices. With a genuflection to Nanda Kumar of Baruch College (where I just guest lectured in his class) I ask: Is Google an objective search engine? No. Choices are made in how to write its algorithm.

Fairness is possible, and disclosure of ones’ biases helps achieve that aim. But objectivity? Ever seen Rashomon?

Something Odd at YouTube

Not sure what's going on but right now I've clicked on three videos from the YouTube homepage, and they all click through to a video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up." (I'd rather be watching the banana-eating bunny, but that's not working.)

Google Humor (For April Fools)

New Gmail Custom Time: ... go back in time and send that crucial email that could have changed everything ... (click image to see it larger)

ABC Wins? Or CBS?

Silicon Alley Insider's Michael Learmonth is now saying ABC looks like it's the top TV network on the Web, based on unique viewers to its video in February. But in average time spent per viewer, CBS knocks it out of the park. According to SAI, quoting Nielsen Online's VideoCensus it's:

ABC: 4.6m uniques / 48.6 minutes
CBS: 2.9m uniques / 69.1 minutes

If I were a CBS exec, I'd be trumpeting the time spent figure. That, they can argue, is true "engagement." Once folks are on, they stay on (and not only view a lot but also can be served a lot of ads).