Additional links from WOSU presentation

In prepping my presentation for WOSU Public Media last week, I spent a lot of time reviewing other people’s recent presentations, stories, blogs, data and so on. Really, I read stuff every day related to digital media, so tracking it all back down is kind of hard. But I wanted to make sure I gathered a list of links and other resources folks could review if they wanted to dig deeper than my presentation alone allowed. So here they are, in no particular order…

From Broadcast to Broadband: Redesigning public media for the 21st Century
Discusses how public media must change to meet the challenges of a 21st century media universe. Jake Shapiro, PRX and Ellen Goodman, Rutgers; presented at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Note: The pie chart showing CPB expenditures is incorrect. There’s an extra $71M included in the TV programming slice that shouldn’t be there.

The Future of News
This was a conference held at MPR in St. Paul, MN in November 2009 bringing together journalism leaders and pundits from public and commercial media in all formats. Lots of video and other resources. Props to Julia Shrenkler for tons of work on this one.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Michael Rosenblum offers a critique of the folks that appeared at The Future of News, as linked above.

A Collection of Social Network Stats for 2009 (Jeremiah Owyang)
A frequently-updated list of social media statistics, including links, for all the major services.

The Chaos Scenario (video)
The Chaos Scenario (blog / book)
Bob Garfield, co-host of NPR’s “On the Media,” has written a book and built a wide-ranging presentation on how current media companies are faced with a chaotic world that’s changing the fundamental models of media economics. It’s a long video, but a good one.

Continue reading “Additional links from WOSU presentation”

Out of the mouths of (27 year old) babes

If you’re involved in public radio, this is required reading / listening.

Jesse Thorn, host of public radio’s The Sound of Young America (which is really a podcast that happens to be on a handful of 25+ public radio stations nationwide), speaks with Josuha Benton (Nieman Journalism Lab / Harvard) about his notions of creativity, business, media scale, public radio economics, audience interaction, passion, awesome content and more.

In particular, he nails the problems of the public radio industry today: the saturation of the older, educated white market and the industry’s pull back from attempts to stretch into new market segments with old formulas. He also keenly understands and explains the financial models in “the system.”

Because what Thorn proposes is that public media programs, hosts, writers, and others do is, well… make great content and directly interact with the audience that gels around the content and experience. He’s suggesting you build a Tribe.

Take a listen…

While listening, pay special attention to his observations about how he pays himself for his work, how he interacts with his audience, and how small-scale his show’s production model is. Also pay attention to how he thinks programs in the future will work — using mass media as “calling cards” or “advertising” for the interactive media experience the programs are creating.

From a Tribes perspective and a mass media model perspective, there’s only one other major national project I know of that’s doing the same thing: Planet Money, in a tiny, experimental pocket of NPR. And that could be said to be an outgrowth of the defunct Bryant Park Project.

There will remain a place for mass-produced and mass-appeal general news production. But for everything else, and especially for any local station that wants to survive, your future is in building a community around awesome content and services, a la Jesse Thorn.

Bonus Listening: If you haven’t heard the SxSW presentation by Merlin Mann and John Gruber on creating content online, that’s your immediate next destination. Indeed, here’s your reading list for surviving in the 21st century media world:

Double-Bonus Listening / UPDATE 2009-04-19: Thanks to the unstoppable Jesse Thorn for stopping by with a comment (below) and sharing the link from the discussion at the 2009 Integrated Media Association conference in Atlanta. Highly recommended, too. Thanks Jesse!

Shirky on the collapse of newspapers

This is, hands down, the most important piece on the collapse of the newspaper industry that will be written all year:

Clay Shirky succinctly wraps up the last 20+ years of media history in just a few pages and explains how and why the newspaper industry will ultimately disintegrate.

He points to a future for journalism, but admits it will be a messy future, much as the world of information control and dissemination was utterly upended in the 16th century with the application of the printing press.

This piece reminded me of a speech given by Michael Rosenblum at the IMA conference in 2007. I have a whole hour of his storytelling and exhortations to take action on video, but here’s a brief (3:30) clip of just one story of technological innovation:

For those still clinging to news-on-paper notions: prepare your eulogies. Technology transforms society, whether you like it or not. Your horses are dead. The bowmen are here.

Back from the dead / digital collaboration

It’s has been — and remains — insane at the office these days. We’re in the midst of a pledge period for TV, we’re preparing for another one in FM, and for the most part it’s my first run-through these events as the person ultimately in charge of our streams, so there’s a learning curve. I’m finding it easy to pick things up — it just takes time. Plus, the company is still shaking out some of the changes from about a month ago as we radically redesigned the management structure. So far, so good.

I’ve been neglecting Twitter and Facebook and this site for nearly a month as these events have played out. Luckily, it’s kind of a quiet period in public media as folks work through pledge drives and just get back into the non-summer swing of things.

Yet this past week a critical post went up from Dennis Haarsager that’s required reading for pubradio folks and I think for public TV folks as well:

It makes a good deal of sense to me, as it gives a revitalized reason/purpose for national/local collaboration, as opposed to simple distribution. I’m not quite convinced it can be successful, but it’s got a shot if a critical mass of system leaders get on board. I know I’m paying attention.

That said, I’m concerned about future collaborations of all kinds, especially in the wake of a semi-private discussion in which I participated recently.

It seems public media’s chief difficulty today is not one of distribution, but one of mission. Why are we here, really? And do we all share the same response to that question? “Public service,” is not a real answer. We need a product, a specific service that can bind all of us together.

Personally, I think that’s news. I’ve railed against the national TV news media before for their lack of real public service, and I’ve suggested that public media’s greatest strength comes from news.  Not music, not arts and culture, not high society, but news. (Those other things are nice-to-haves, but they aren’t core things around which we can easily collaborate on various geographic or business scales.)

What does news, as a primary mission for public, have going for it?

  • The Associated Press is breaking down as newspapers and stations — including my own — tell the AP to take a flying leap with their high costs and their regurgitated stories
  • Newspapers are distracted as their profits crumble and they seem unable to find a way forward
  • TV news is an abysmal, rancid landfill of time-wasters and poor information
  • New low-cost journalism methods (not necessarily bad stuff, by the way) is on the rise, both in video and print, offering us new opportunities
  • Digital exchange of information and finished media products has never been faster, cheaper or easier
  • We have a public service mission unparalleled in the commercial world — a world setup to distribute commercials, not thoughtful information

NPR grew as media consumers discovered that quality news and information was, in fact, a good thing to have around. It grew in an otherwise toxic radio environment.

We have a chance, now, I think, to develop this shared mission and build collaborative structures around that. At the moment, Haarsager’s initial diagram (PDF) speaks to a broader service set than news alone. But keep the mission focused and the distribution / collaboration system begins to make sense.

Anything new that proposes to simplify collaboration in an ecosystem of diverse and often competing missions probably won’t get us very far.

Get Connected

If you’d like a preview of some of the difficulties headed for the public media space, look no further than all the blogging and analysis — and sniping — going on in the newspaper industry. Public media’s problems will be different in style and emphasis, but the core problem is identical.

Be sure to read the latest post by industry veteran and analyst Steve Yelvington.

It’s about connecting with your community in an honest, human way. This is less important for the national outlets, but critical for those in smaller markets where community connection will be critical. Knock over the ivory tower, if you have one…

Bob Lewis: Thirteen web commandments — from 1995

This week Bob Lewis, consultant to the information technology stars, posted a list of 13 “commandments” for the World Wide Web. It’s actually his take on a list created by a friend of his back in — get this — 1995!

The list is great, but it’s unfathomable to me that anyone understood web economics and impacts so early in the game. I mean, we’re still just figuring this stuff out, right?

Anyway, i think I’ll call this required reading: The thirteen commandments of the World Wide Web

Required Reading: Eby & Mundt

You’re probably already following Tim Eby (blog / Twitter) and Todd Mundt (blog / Twitter) online, but if not, or if you missed these recent pieces, be sure to take time to catch up.

It’s About The Conversation (29 May 2008)

Tim Eby had the good fortune to attend a conference in WOSU’s backyard last week and shares some of the insights from the conference that directly apply to public media leaders and organizations nationwide. One of several money-quotes: “We can no longer control the keys to the vehicle and keep our audience in the backseat.” The post includes slides from one of the presentations and a great five-point list of what NOT to do as a media organization in the age of conversation.

What’s Your Twitter Strategy? (29 May 2008)

As I’ve talked about Twitter with my colleagues (and shared article after article), I always get the question, “So what’s this thing for?” Todd Mundt answers this question, but more importantly answers it in a practical, down-to-earth, low-cost, low-impact way — specific to public media. Great, simple advice and reporting on what’s up in Louisville.

Louisville Public Media’s Strategy (28 May 2008)

Here’s a more wide-ranging piece from Mundt that encompasses LPM’s strategic approach to media. This is yet another brilliant, concise document out of Louisville Public Media (the first being their overall company strategy doc I mentioned in February). It’s both incredibly readable and shows a great depth of thinking.

If I’m lucky, I’ll become the “Microsoft” to Mundt’s and LPM’s “Apple” — I’ll fire up the photocopier every time they create an innovative new strategy, change a few names in the document and claim I invented it all!

Mundt cuts the cord, lives to tell about it

Bravo to Todd Mundt on both “cutting the cord” from his cable company and writing in-depth about the process and experience of consuming media — up to and including HD video — without cable (or satellite) TV service.

The mix of technologies required today are a bit daunting to anyone that wants just a plain old “boob tube” experience, but for any moderately inclined hobbyist, this is pretty accessible.

Furthermore — and this is the kicker — there’s more content out there on the ‘Net than on PBS, as lots of sources distribute directly and PBS (for various reasons, many of them good) chooses not to carry the stuff.

Read all about it here.

(For the record, Todd reports that he still uses the cable company for Internet access, just not for TV. My own experience is that my local cableco won’t sell me high speed service without a TV bundle, so I can’t fully follow his example. However, I have stopped watching BSG on TV and instead watch exclusively via hulu and DVD).

Oh, and be sure to follow Todd on Twitter, if you aren’t already.

Required Reading: 2008-04-11

I’m starting a new feature called Required Reading. I already offer what I call the Media 2.0 Reader (in the sidebar) that tracks selected reading from around the web (via Google Reader). Required Reading will represent the best of the best. Frankly, I wish I’d written these pieces!

Today, two pieces of Required Reading with an economic perspective:

The Declining Power of the Firm
I’m already a big Umair Haque fan, and in this post Wilson pulls from a recent Haque piece and then extends it into issues swirling in the Microsoft / Yahoo! / Google / AOL story. What does it mean to public media? Well, the economics of the emerging edgeconomy are fundamentally what’s shattering the foundations of the mass media market in which we historically operate.

Rosenblum’s writing is provocative and intelligent. You don’t have to agree, but you do have to confront his ideas. In this case, Rosenblum takes on the notion that new media services only pull in a fraction of their old media forerunners. He acknowledges the situation, but points out how new media also costs far less to produce than old media, in particular with respect to overhead costs. Given that many in public media work in large and expensive legacy facilities — especially in pubTV shops — this lesson will be increasingly critical to learn and then to turn into real-world practice.

If you’re interested in wider-ranging readings across the web, you can follow my Media 2.0 Reader via RSS or by e-mail subscription. By the way, I’m always on the prowl for more and better sources of ideas and material related to new media, social media and public media, so be sure to share your recommended links.