Dorian Benkoil senior consultant at Teeming Media. An award-winning journalist and editor, he was a foreign correspondent for AP and Newsweek, and international and managing editor for ABCNews.com. At ABC News he moved to the business side, handling sales integration and business development, before joining Fairchild Publications as General Manager for their Internet division, becoming editorial director for mediabistro.com, then a consultant for Teeming Media in New York. He graduates this year with an MBA from Baruch's Zicklin school of business. Learn more about him at Benkoil.com or his blog - MediaFlect.com.
Robert Cauthorn is a journalist, former vice president of digital
media at the San Francisco Chronicle, and was the third recipient of
the Newspaper Association of America's prestigious Digital Pioneer
Award. He launched one of the first five newspapers web sites in the
world and is generally considered to have delivered the first
profitable newspaper web site in 1995. Cauthorn has been in the middle
of the transition from old media to new and is recognized as
frank-talking critic when he believes newspapers stray for their
mission. In mid-2004 he became the president of CityTools, LLC a new
media startup based in San Francisco.
Ben Compaine has divided his career between the academic world and private business. He was a journalist when manual typewriters were considered state of the art, but also led the conversion of his college newspaper to cold type. He has started and managed weekly newspapers. His dissertation at Temple University in 1977 was about the changing technologies that were going to unsettle the landscape of the staid and low profit newspaper industry. Since then he has focused his research and consulting on examining the forces and trends at work in the information industries. Among his most well-known works (and the name of his blog) is "Who Owns the Media?".
Vin Crosbie has been called "the Practical Futurist" by Folio, the trade journal of the American magazine industry. Editor & Publisher magazine, the trade journal of the American newspaper industry, devoted the Overview chapter of executive research report Digital Delivery of News: A How-to Guide for Publishers to his work. His speech to the National Association of Broadcasters annual conference was one of 24 orations selected by a team of speech professors for publication in the reference book Representative American Speeches 2004-2005. He has keynoted the Seybold Publishing Strategies conference in 2000; co-chaired and co-moderated last year's annual Beyond the Printed Word the digital publishing conference in Vienna; and regularly speaks at most major online news media conferences. He is currently in residence as adjunct professor of visual and interactive communications and senior consultant on executive education in new media at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and meanwhile is managing partner of the media consulting firm of Digital Deliverance LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.
About this blog
Two forces have shattered the news media. Technology is the first. Although media technology is undergoing its greatest change since the day in 1440 when Johannes Gutenberg first inked type, for more than ten years now the news industry has mistaken new technologies merely as electronic ways to distribute otherwise printed or analog products. Estrangement is the second. The news media has lost touch with people's needs and interests during the past 30 years, as demonstrated by rapidly declining readerships of newspapers and audiences of broadcast news. How we rebuild news media appropriate to the 21st Century from the growing rubble of this industry is the subject of this group weblog.
Finally, a term for what happens in the real MediaVerse: The Pinball Effect. That’s what Nielsen CMO John Burbank used to talk about the way online and TV interrelate to spur consumption of the other. His example: The Katie Couric-Sarah Palin intterview gets six million viewers. That’s cut into clips, each of which is viewed three million times. Viewership of Saturday Night LIve (with their parody of the interview) spikes to 9.5 million viewers and 25 million people watch the skits on the Web and THEN a record 70 million people on 11 TV networks watch the vice presidential debate. That, Burbank said at the Media and Money Conference that concluded today in New York is how audiences build over time due to the effect, on “word of mouth.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean anyone’s making money on it, a point Burbank also raised.
Oddly, though, he said there has been “little impact” of citizen journalism, no breakout viral video clips from a cellphone, despite the many opportunities of Joe Biden speaking many places every day. (I might counter that there’s a lot of influential blog and Twitter discussion, and that any Swift Boating might occur online, especially via email. Video is not the only place to look for influence. Not to mention Obama’s in-game ads.)
I heard Jeff Jarvis on the radio this week say he wanted someone to, in easy link-and-click fashion, explain what’s going on, what the current financial crisis is about. And I suppose he's right (while hoping he’s wrong) that that easy click and see doesn’t exist. (He did on his site say he likes this explanation.)
And, in so complaining, he put his finger on a major problem with journalism as it’s practiced. Amid all the tit-for-tat accusations, running around trying to dig up, follow the latest, get the scoops, journalists too often forget to explain to those who desperately want it what the story at its deepest levels is really about -- which also would serve to tell the reading/listening/viewing public why they should care. That kind of depth, of course, doesn’t get the quick pageviews, nor is it the kind of investigative journalism that tends to win Pulitzers and other prizes. In a business sense, it’s not the kind of journalism that will pay for the resources it takes create it. But it is a big public service that can accrue pageviews (on pages carrying ads) over time. And there are ways to “monetize” it beyond the pageview-ad formulation. (partnerships, re-branding, syndication, books, new sections ... that would be another blog post.)
Not that it’s easy to explain something like this crisis. A lot of people tasked with explaining what’s going on probably themselves don’t understand, and good journalists are trained not to let their grasp exceed their reach. Heck, some of the smartest professors I had in business school seem at a loss to completely explain what’s happening in the economy right now. (One wrote an email about the opposing views of who’s to blame, without answering a question I asked about whether models he taught us projecting increased value as debt is taken on were still valid, or formulations for calculating risk should be changed). And, the ones who can explain it all to us -- smart MBAs who do financial modeling -- are, after all, ones who helped get us into this, with the very financial models they created or followed. They’re likely to earn a lot more than the ink- and pixel-stained wretches working in newsrooms. Then, again, there’s a few of those folk who have a bit of free time at the moment. Maybe they could write a little something for the papers, even help come up with some graphics and videos to explain it all.
Even without the business justifications, though, the explanation would be worthwhile and a public service.