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How Can We Help You?

Jarvis at CUNY's New Biz Models for Local News

Jarvis at CUNY's New Biz Models for Local News

Over the last week, I've attended two lively and inspiring gatherings: a meeting of the Navigating Change Media Think Tank in Connecticut, and the New Business Models for (Local) News Hyper Camp at CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism. In both places, I heard the same question: "how can we help you?"

There is a generosity among those of us who are inspired, rather than terrified, by the changes in journalism and media. None of us have this thing figured out, and while there's certainly money to be made for the first ones to get the "answer," it's also simply a time of heightened brain activity. And people want to help. You've got a wild idea? What do you need from us?

Media Big Brain Jeff Jarvis sees the balance shifting, as he writes on his Buzz Machine blog: "the room was filled with people who were, each in his or her own way, building that future and they all recognized that they have to work together to do so. The future of news is also an ecosystem. That’s what became apparent yesterday and that, for me, was the highlight of the event."

And so it is.  Rupert Murdoch may want to unplug from Google (best of luck on that), but for the rest of us, the invitations to plug in and connect are limitless.  Some of us have ideas, some have connections, some have money.  And at Navigating Change and the CUNY Hyper Camp, the cards were exchanged and the ideas were brainstormed.  If you're not already in on this, get in on it.  If you don't know how, ask me.

How can we help you?


Ex TV Exec Says Fear Not, "Internet" Nothing But Flash in Pan: A "Bamboo Raft" Compared to the Warship of TV

Itll Take a Lot More than the Internet to Sink This Baby

It'll Take a Lot More than the "Internet" to Sink This Baby

This "future" you keep hearing about? You know, the one where the "internet" is important? Well, good news, local television professionals:  false alarm! You can just forget about all that madness about competing across multiple platforms and just get back to work. The "internet" isn't worth your time and you can stop worrying about how to make money there.  Just do what you've been doing and you'll be right as rain.  So argues Kevin Mirek in a post on tvnewsday entitled, "Web Needs TV, But TV Doesn't Need Web."

If the idea of a transformational moment in journalism and the television business keeps you up at night and you really, truly, want it simply to go away, then stop reading now and let Mr. Mirek's comforting words wrap you up in a cuddly embrace as you drift off.  But trust me, you will be dreaming, because no matter what Kevin Mirek may believe, the "internet industry," as he calls it, will not get tired and go away.

Yes, he said "internet industry."  Best I can figure, Mirek believes there's a bunch of these internet companies and they're competing with the good old television companies, and since we all work for the TV companies, it's nuts to be doing anything to help the internet companies that intend to run us good guys out of business: "Every day we read or hear of Internet chieftains declaring that TV must restructure itself to become more Internet intensive or warning that TV is going to lose out if it doesn't put more resources into Internet and mobile. What else would we expect to hear from the Internet industry that creates no viable video content, that pirates 90 percent of its offerings from sleeping TV owners and that intends to replace TV in the end?"

Mr. Murdoch: TV Boss. No, Internet Chieftan. Wait.

Maybe it's different at the television station where you work, but I don't recall any of the "Internet" bullies showing up at the station threatening to destroy us if we didn't hand over our local content.  In fact, thinking back, I'd have to say the "TV owners" I worked for--people with names like Rupert Murdoch, for instance--could also be described as "Internet chieftans," which really messes up the Mirek math.

Mirek's convinced that since television viewership remains high--and American Idol reminds us all of the shared-community viewing events that were common before time-shifting and DVRs--that TV's as strong now as it ever was, and that those dimwit TV bosses need to wake up and smell the profits:  "Whenever an Internet guru refers to Internet video platforms, the image that comes to mind is that of a bamboo raft drifting aimlessly in the same waters as TV's aircraft carrier. The impoverished skipper of the raft is saying to the aircraft carrier commander, 'You better share your weapons with us for free, or some day we will destroy you.' The aircraft commander is saying, 'Uh, okay, I don't want to be left behind.'"

It's clearly comforting to think back to the five-channel universe and God-like local news anchor days of TV and pretend that's the world we still live in, with television stations as ironclad and powerful as aircraft carriers (yes, Mirek sees stations as the real powerbrokers, since they "mostly rely on the affiliates to deliver the 153 hours per month of the average American's video viewing").  But Kevin, even mighty carriers can sink, and those bamboo rafts may be better described as "life rafts."

Mr. Malone:  TV?  Isnt that for Old People?

Mr. Malone: "TV?" Isn't that for Old People?

Today, Liberty Media CEO John Malone was asked if the word "television" would even exist in a few years' time.  His answer?  Well, yes, but folks who say it may smell of mothballs:  "Probably in five years old guys like me will still be calling it television," Malone said.

And, of course, guys like Kevin Mirek.

You know, the angry guy at the end of the block with the big TV antenna on his house who's always shouting at kids and complaining about this evil "Internet" contraption?


Murdoch's "Secret Plan" to… Charge for Content! Gasp! Shivers!

Tina's Beast: Does She Read This Stuff?

Wow.  Talk about your no-brainers.  The Daily Beast's Stryker McGuire (wasn't that a failed show on ABC in the late 70s about a former cop who pairs up with an ex-con or something?) reports today that he "has learned" through "sources" that News Corp. "has tasked a global team--reporting directly to the 78-year-old media mogul--with creating a model to charge for online content."

Cut to:  me staring, waiting for the news in any of this.  Right.  And?

Mr. McGuire's reporting, complete with breathless late 40's style writing gives us this:  "Now, The Daily Beast has learned, Murdoch's News Corp. has set up a global team (you said that part already, Stryker), based in New York, London, and Sydney (okay, that's in line with "global"), to create a system for charging for online content in an environment where consumers have come to expect to get it for free."

I am so not making this up.

He continues:  "According to a knowledgeable source, the team is said to be 'looking at hardware' to deliver the content in a 'user friendly way'--a prospect that will surely catch the attention of the developers of Amazon's Kindle and the Sony Reader."

Oh man.  If The Daily Beast thinks this is newsworthy--and moreso, deserving of being peppered with trite "has learned" and "according to sources" filler, well, they're a lot further back on the media curve than I thought.

News Corp.:  Still Interested in Making Money?  Never!

News Corp.: Still Interested in Making Money? Never!

A global news organization "tasking a team" to "find a way" to "charge for content?"  Heavens! Who would've thought?  I figured Murdoch was tasking teams to refine the printing press and dispatching task forces into the wilds of Asia to find the next Sudoku.  

For the record, any major (or minor) media company that isn't thinking about a new financial model is a ship that will soon be known as an "underwater reef" suitable for divers and coral.  But then what do I know?  I also poo-poohed this story I read on The Daily Beast last week about TDK tasking a team to look into a new model for recording audio beyond the cassette tape (which will surely catch the attention of the makers of Sony's blockbuster Walkman music player!).


FOX O&O Layoff Watch: News Corp Reports Massive $6.4 Billion Dollar Loss; Local Stations Declined 44%

The breeze you may have felt along Sixth Avenue Thursday was the massive gasp at the numbers emanating from News Corp headquarters, where the financial report was down, and decidedly so:  "News Corporation had income of $320 million, or 12 cents a share, significantly below the Wall Street expectations. Analysts had forecast earnings of 19 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters," reported the New York Times.  

News Corp titan Rupert Murdoch telling the paper: “Our results for the quarter are a direct reflection of the grim economic climate,” he said. “While we anticipated a weakening, the downturn is more severe and likely longer-lasting than previously thought.”

The next shoe to drop may be in the newsrooms at FOX O&O's, starting on the Upper East Side in New York.  According to the Times, "The company’s local television stations had a 44 percent decline, 'reflecting a significant overall weakening of the local advertising markets despite increased political advertising revenues,' the company said in a statement."  That, kids, sounds like the kind of statement that preceeds another round of cost-cutting, and word from New York tonight indicates at least one well-known Fox 5 face has already left the building at WNYW's E. 67th Street studios.

Developing...we will post details on the latest layoff at WNYW as soon as we can confirm the details.  Expect an update here on the site overnight or early Friday morning, though the standard bio scrub has already happened on the Fox 5 website.