My Media

I used to love newspapers. I subscribed and read. Not cover to cover, but pretty extensively. Several papers. Now I don’t read any. I cancelled the WSJ over a year ago. I let my weekend subscription to the NYTimes lapse over 6 months ago. I plan not to renew with The Economist when my subscription’s up.

There is something about the physical bulk of printed papers and mags that grosses me out. In the information age, info is ubiquitous ─ why would I want such a huge portion, assembled by someone whose taste and interests don’t necessarily mirror mine ─ hoisted on me each day or each week? I am a smart person who quite enjoys creating my own survey of the day’s stories. I pull stories off the web. I make my own media.

What’s interesting to me is how quickly this turn came. In the span of a year, newspapers became relics to me. When I see people holding and reading them I think, “how old-fashioned.” I also get a kick out of television schedules. There are almost no shows that I watch during their original broadcast times. Almost everything’s on my DVR. Lately, I wonder if I even need my super expensive cable subscription considering the fact that I can get the DVDs from Netflix and watch shows online. Also, I almost never go to the movies anymore since I have a sweet HDTV.

These changes have been coming for a while now. I remember talking about them and studying them when i was in grad school 10 years ago. Now i see them up close every day. TV ratings are going down down down. People are actually watching more television, but there are way more choices so the audiences are breaking up. The live in-person factor is becoming more interesting and important, in my estimation. People want to go in person to stuff and feel a part of something. For example, I belong to this organization called Gen Art that hosts exhibits and events. A pal and I went to see a Be Kind Rewind screening a few months ago. Our decision to attend was not just about the film … it was about seeing the film with other interesting people and then having an event to mix at afterwards (it was so crowded we left in under half an hour, but the intent was there …).

communications today – things that matter a lot (think obama)

1) public speaking … gotta get out there and engage. gotta show people you know what you’re talking about. have to connect with people. leave that ivory tower. you tube videos make your message mobile and omnipresent. the living breathing connection is important as hell.

2) good web sites …that cater to audience, make it easy. give them what they want. puts them in control.

3) 360 experience ─ give people a way to participate in person. whether it’s a concert, a fair or tool. being there, being a meaningful part of the process is important. it’s how we feel connected.

communications today – 2 things that matter a lot less (think hillary)

1) getting hits in mass media … the power of each medium is declining so the value of those individual hits is declining too. you’re better off targeting the exact people who may want to hear from you. you may be able to do that by combining platforms. it’s hard, but not impossible.

2) The declining importance of protocol. internet and digital democratizes everything … you can, and should, go as direct to your audience as possible. Forget the intermediaries. But understand that it’s a two-way street. they are telling you as much as you are telling them.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “My Media

  1. Kristina

    I agree with some of this but I also think there’s a real culture of narcissism that is emerging from people “making their own media.” It’s a great development for democracy in some ways and in others, not so much. Traditional media will certainly be enfolded (and is being) to some extent and then rise once again from the ash heap of all that paper. I am proudly old fashioned in liking media crafted of paper that you can bend and fold and tear sheets from to stick in your purse. I see in my own PR outreach that the tactile is also a powerful “zag” (see Marty Neumeier) when everyone is zigging (rather slavishly in my opinion and often not very interestingly) onto an online bandwagon that quite frankly could use some culling and curating. I’m tired of bloggers who believe their own press and overestimate their own importance while trotting out proclamations waiting for Time magazine (the online version, natch) to call and offer them a job. Yes, now everyone can make their own media, but I’m totally turned off by this tone (I’ve surely done it before myself) of an ear cocked, wondering who is listening. Write as if no one is listening. That’s a hard feat in this era. People write for an audience, as if we are all contestants on “American Idol.” It’s bizarre and a little socially alarming. What is happening in music is perhaps one of the most exciting developments because it democratizes commerce for independents – and I am fanatically supportive of that shift. This democratization is also happening on sites like Etsy and with cool self-publishing tools like Typepad, Moo, Blurb. But individuals making their own media is, content wise, often an air sandwich. I’m also tired of PR people who scramble to seem “hip” and on their game by making statements like “the press release is dead!” There is no either or – media is an should be omnivorous and fashioned from many things – paper or graffiti scrawls on a tunnel overpass or online. Some of the best, most lucrative projects I’ve gotten in the last year were from handcut, hand designed, paper kits bearing my branding to new business prospects. It’s a zag that may be anachronistic but I don’t think it is. That said, I’ve also started very valuable conversations and made really refreshing connections I never would have made via my blog. I think it’s about about authenticity, which is from human creativity and intelligence and heart and isn’t defined by the medium.

  2. col

    i love this thoughtful response. and you offered it via a blog!

    i agree that things go in cycles. old models break down, we try “new” things, and then everything goes full circle.

    i do think the changes in technology, media and human communication are revolutionary. i look at the economics of big media and wonder how much longer these models can sustain themselves.

    i also wonder what the world will be like when we don’t all have the same reference points, and how brands can achieve critical mass in such a land.

    it makes communications more challenging than ever. and indeed, authenticity continues to be the single most important characteristic of all.

  3. Gabe

    Damn, Colleen, you’re smart. Gabe.

    P.S. You, too, K, whoever you are.

    O.K., I’ll try and write something too. I loved reading and agree with Kristina’s position on the democratization of music promotion. I have a little music promotion company/blog, which I can’t mention because Colleen will slam me for self promotion. Let’s just say there are few who love and respect “local” music as much as I do; BUT it’s clear that the democratization discussed above means there’s a lot more crappy music out there.

    Peace

    Gabe

  4. Old big media will just become new big media. We’ve enjoyed an infancy and innocence with new media that has been anything but refined, which was part of the fun until bloggers started getting such big heads. I’ve been blogging for years and am not taking a Luddite perspective. Every generation has a sort of predictable arrogance that rejects the innovation of its predecessor (e.g. the newspaper, how quaint!) – that is how innovation is possible in the first place, the striving for something that makes something else a relic. How else do we, the ever important human being, leave our stamp? (Oh yeah, all those little progeny being wheeled around in IKEA). But every innovation is soon enough a quaint relic. This mentality that we are going to be, or should, be living in a purely digital world where the tactile is supplanted by technology is a little too linear and hollow for my taste. See “Sleeper” and the orgasmatron for a (hilarious) case in point of how every generation vaunts its own innovations which are then quickly, predictably, boringly obsolete. I love my blog, and the ability to make a book (yes, making my own media for 38 years) at blurb.com, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still love reading both the online NYT and the paper edition whilst searching for a vintage 1970s Olivetti typewriter like Didion may have used as the best technology of her day.

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