Tag Archives: jeff jarvis

Dispatch from the Frontlines: Local TV Now Host Michael Bieke

PODCASTLOGOMy wife and I have three dogs, and as a result, I spend a lot of time on dog-walking duty.  It’s hardly a chore for me, as I enjoy taking tours around the neighborhood with the fur team, and listening to a good podcast.

My favorites are the daily news podcasts from UK news sites like The Guardian and the BBC, and NPR shows like Fresh Air. I get my political fix at the end of every week with a collection of roundtable podcasts, and for the next three weeks I’ll be downloading at least two Tour de France podcasts daily.  (Like I said, I spend a lot of time walking the dogs)

Podcasts are also great for staying on top of this fast evolving (or fast collapsing, if that’s your worldview) business of ours.  WNYC does a great job with its weekly On the Media, and Jeff Jarvis hosts a very entertaining talker for the Guardian, Media Talk USA. Add to this list the local news focused Local TV Now, co-hosted by Michael Bieke, who’s found absolutely no shortage of topics to dig into, though perhaps his choice of guests is questionable, with my appearance on this week’s podcast.

DISPATCH FROM THE FRONTLINES:  Michael Bieke, Host, Local TV Now
Three months ago, I came to the realization that, while there are lots of stories about local television in the trade publications, there aren’t a lot of places where conversations about the issues in the industry are taking place.  There are message boards that are often filled with hate (not that there’s not a place for some of that), but very few frank discussions about the local TV business.

That’s why my co-host Doug and I decided to start Local TV Now, a weekly podcast covering the business of television.  We talk about the issues facing broadcasters, but what we’ve always believed is our strength is interviewing and talking to others involved in various aspects of the industry.  In just three months, some of our best interviews have been with a very diverse group of people.  From medical journalism expert Gary Schwitzer who talked with us about the sorry state of health news reporting in television to Todd Jeunger from TiVo who discussed some new ratings options that aren’t from Nielsen, we’ve had some great interviews.  And this week, we add Mark Joyella to the list as we have a very honest conversation about the realities of the business today and how journalists can better prepare themselves for tomorrow.

That all sounded kind of heavy, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.  We have fun doing the show because it’s a topic we’re passionate about, and we hope our listeners are too.

Local TV Now, Episode 13

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A Jolt of Digital Inspiration: LocalNewser’s On the Links

OntheLinksYep, we love us our links.

Too much going on right now in this scary, thrilling time to write about all of it myself. So I’ll hit the links that I find worthy of recommending to you. Unlike other link lineups, you won’t be finding a list of stories about a mid-market anchor signing off or a weatherman who got a DUI.

I’d like to bring you a collection of stories that can spur some ideas–get your pulse pumping at the thought of the next big thing and how you can be right in the thick of it.

We can sit here and bitch about the old media companies and their cost-cutting and soul-crushing ways, or we can start turning our attention to what will be replacing those companies.  It’s an innovation revolution out there, don’t miss it!

Times are tough for newspaper and broadcast companies.  But times are intensely exciting for journalists.

On the Links, you’ll find some inspiration, and food for thought.

Brian Stelter at the Times has a great read today on how journalism rules are challenged by Twitter-reporting and iReport vide0 posts:  Journalism Rules Are Bent in News Coverage From Iran.

BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis is working a CUNY project aimed at supporting, studying, and helping spread hyperlocal news projects across the country.  They’re looking for your input on what works, and what doesn’t:  Help Us Help Hyperlocal News.

Julie Posetti at MediaShift also takes up the important questions about Twitter that have grown out of the Iran story, and she’s interviewed journalists worldwide to determine how journos and news operations are using the Tweet: Rules of Engagement for Journalists on Twitter.

The AP’s Michael Liedtke reports a web news startup, Journalism Online, predicts it will hit a target of one in ten users paying for content: News Startup Expects 10 Percent of Web Readers to Pay.

See a good story?  Send a link:  mark@standupkid.com

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Local Newsers: What’s It Going to Be? Innovate or Die? (Huh? You Sure You Don’t Want to Pick “Innovate?”)

3125936268_d71b8a90a1_oIf you haven’t yet read Jeff Jarvis’ excellent book, What Would Google Do?, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Jarvis is a new media guru who produces content across multiple platforms (his BuzzMachine blog is required reading, and his new Guardian podcast is fantastic) and teaches digital media at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism.  His book “reverse-engineers” Google to see what secrets we can uncover, and then implement, perhaps fueling a new style of journalism that will keep all of us working into the next decade.

In a discussion of financial models, and how Google transcended them, Jarvis writes:  the “winner is likely to be a new player, not one trying to protect old revenue streams and assets.”  Think about that for a moment.  Look at your own company.  Is it innovating into the future?  Or desperately, blindly, obsessively trying to make what’s always worked still work?

In New York last week, News Corp announced its latest round of firings and buyouts, cutting twenty staffers at WNYW and WWOR, cuts that affected traditional news operations and the stations’ web team.  That jumped out at me.  The web, without question, is the future.  What does it say about a company making cuts and deciding to pull back on the one area of the business with a clear, huge and critical role in the years ahead?

My answer:  they’re doing whatever they can do to cut costs and stay alive until the economy improves.  Then they’ll go back to that internet stuff.

Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis

Jarvis calls this the “Cash Cow in the Coal Mine:”  “Cash flow can blind you to the strategic necessity of change, tough decisions, and innovation…How many companies and industries fail to heed the warnings they know are there but refuse to see?”

Local news refuses to see.  As Jarvis writes, station owners are losing their “destinies” because they want to “preserve their pasts.”  And you know it’s true.  As I’ve written here, there is incredible innovation happening in the world of video storytelling and news.  It’s just not being done by television stations.  Newspapers are trying new ways of including multimedia content to make their reporting more impactful, interesting and different. In cities across the country, folks are creating web-based newscasts that look nothing like the stuff stations continue to produce–just the way they always have.

Watch this promo for a new Australian newscast that debuts this month.  Aside from the cliche-ridden nature of the promo itself, is there anything here that couldn’t have been done 25 years ago?

Think about it.  What’s so different about the six o’clock news?  Sure, it starts in some cities at 4.  It’s shot in HD.  And… well, beyond that, it’s the same product we’ve been selling for decades. That reminds me of senior citizens who will buy a new version of the same old car time after time because that’s what they like.  And looking at the demographics of a lot of news, these are the same reliable viewers keeping some local newscasts alive.

Where’s the innovation?  What’s one new thing that would’ve been unimaginable to the Action News teams of the 1970’s?  Doppler radar?  That’s an improvement of the same old thing.  New ways of doing liveshots?  What am I missing?

Take the computers out of the newsroom and put typewriters back, replace the cell phones with hard lines, put the AP wire back into a noisy printer in the corner, and go retro with the set, the over-the-shoulder graphics (FIRE!) and men’s lapels, and this is the same old cereal in a new box.

It’s depressing, when you look at the environment we’re in:  a once-in-a-career time of change, with a life-or-death incentive to innovate, and yet stations still believe in the tried and true rules of innovation in local news:

1)  New Set

2)  New Graphics

3)  New Anchors

4)  New News Director

Seriously, people.  News isn’t dying.  Someone’s going to be making money giving our viewers the information they want.  But there’s no reason to believe it’s going to be us.

I guess times are just too tight to risk taking chances.  And we’ll staff the web team back up when the car dealers start spending again.  Sound good?  Yeah, that’ll work.

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Local TV Newsers: Meet Denise. She May Be the Future. She May Eat Your Lunch.

702.tv's Denise Spidle

702.tv's Denise Spidle

Reading the story in the Las Vegas Sun, you could forgive a veteran local television reporter for an instinctive chuckle.  Oh, aren’t they precious!  The newspaper people are trying to do TV! They’ve even gone and bought themselves a red couch and a curtain for a backdrop!

Yeah, you definitely want to laugh it off. But here’s the weird thing about 702.tv:  it’s interesting, it’s different, and it’s the supposedly-dead medium of print, encroaching–yet again–on TV’s turf.  It’s almost like (am I crazy here?) the print people think they can win the battle for local video online.  Nah.  That’s crazy. We own that!

From the Washington Post, and it’s excellent series of video documentaries posted online, to The New York Times’ creative and compelling commitment to multi-media storytelling, it’s becoming clear the print folk don’t want to stay on their side of the fence in what’s obviously a deathmatch.  There will be local news, of course, and it’ll probably be predominantly online at some point, but thinking that we’re the experts on video and so obviously it’s the papers that have to give up and go home… well, that’s a huge mistake.

Think about your TV newsroom.  What print tricks have you adopted?  Certainly you haven’t got bodies in police precincts running through the overnight arrests, and nobody’s hanging out in the courthouse checking on interesting lawsuits.  That’s what newspapers are for, right?

Ah, but you’ve learned to write in print form for the web!  Right?  You doctor up your 6 o’clock script into a mock-print style and file it–sorry, feed it–to the website.  And what a brilliant website it is, if I know anything about local TV, I’m sure yours is creative, ground-breaking, and chock full of unique uses of video. Right?

Right?

702_tilt_logo_newEverybody in town isn’t coming out of this alive, folks.  And assuming the print people will roll over and play dead just because, you know, the printing press is dead, well, that doesn’t seem to be working.  Sure, the paper won’t be hitting doorsteps like it used to, but those print folk seem so aggressive about getting into our game.  And far moreso than we seem to be about getting into theirs.  Or even, about getting more creative about what we do.  And that’s how companies go out of business.

Doing a “webcast” that’s a lousy and dated version of your noon newscast?  That’s not creative.  That’s not going to grab someone and say, hey, that’s different. But I wouldn’t put it past the kids in Vegas from getting that reaction.  Yeah, sure, their motto is “News Never Looked So Good.”  There’s that part of the equation. I get that.  But there’s something else.  There’s a creativity here that I haven’t seen coming from TV stations.

Take a look at the winners of the Knight Foundation’s 2009 News Challenge.  No call letters among the bunch.  But a LOT of creative, multi-platform, forward-thinking ideas about taking information and getting it in front of people, instead of sitting back on our broadcast bottoms and continuing to think the audience will just keep coming to us.

The Knight Foundation Voters Decide in Miami:  Local TV?  Not on the Table.

The Knight Foundation Voters Decide in Miami: Local TV? Not on the Table.

Eric Umansky and Scott Klein of ProPublica, and Aaron Pilhofer and Ben Koski of The New York Times won $719,500 to bankroll a project aimed at enriching investigative news reports by creating an easily searchable, free, public online database of public records.  (As Jeff Jarvis would say, that’s asking “What Would Google Do?)

Gail Robinson at the Gotham Gazette won $250,000 to create an online wiki devoted to local legislators’ voting records and campaign contributions, so voters in New York can go someplace–free–and find usable information.

And in Phoenix, Aleksandra Chojnacka and Adam Klawonn of the Daily Phoenix won $95,000 to fund their idea of using news, games and social networking to help commuters on the city’s light rail system informed about their city.

Where’s the proof broadcasters get it?  Where’s the creativity that shows we will endure, succeed and prosper five years from now?  Skype liveshots?  Anchor blogs?  Weather widgets?

Folks.  The Buick dealer isn’t coming back on a white horse to save you.  What are you doing to change?

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Jeff Jarvis to “Old Media” Bosses: You Blew It. You Get No Sympathy Now. In Fact, Just Get Out of the Damn Way.

Jeff Jarvis, Director of Interactive Journalism, CUNY

Jeff Jarvis, Director of Interactive Journalism, CUNY

Jeff Jarvis is hardly crying over collapsing business models for newspapers and broadcasters.  In fact, he’s kneeling down beside the media moguls’ battered bodies and whispering in their blood-spattered ears:  “you idiots should’ve seen this beat-down coming years ago–and you could’ve prevented it!”

Jarvis’ message to the Newspaper Association of America is simple, and very, very tough love: 

“You blew it.

You’ve had 20 years since the start of the web, 15 years since the creation of the commercial browser and craigslist, a decade since the birth of blogs and Google to understand the changes in the media economy and the new behaviors of the next generation of – as you call them, Mr. Murdoch – net natives. You’ve had all that time to reinvent your products, services, and organizations for this new world, to take advantage of new opportunities and efficiencies, to retrain not only your staff but your readers and advertisers, to use the power of your megaphones while you still had it to build what would come next. But you didn’t.

You blew it. “

Jarvis, writing on his BuzzMachine blog, takes is a step further.  The people who should be angry aren’t the media bosses who sat on their rear ends in the face of an oncoming digital tidal wave and culture shift, but the news consumer, who got served the same stuff, year after year by companies who now argue that Google’s the bad guy, and journalists (and newspapers and television newsrooms) have to go to save journalism, if you can follow that logic.

Who You Calling an Angry Old White Man?  Murdoch:  What, Me Worry?

Who You Calling an Angry Old White Man? Murdoch: What, Me Worry?

“And now you’re angry. Well, gentlemen – and that’s pretty much all I see before me: angry, old, white men – you have no right to anger. Instead, you are the proper objects of anger. The public should be angry with you for the poor stewardship you have exercised over the press and its service to society. Your journalists are angry at you for losing their jobs. Your pressmen and drivers and classified-ad takers are angry at you for the same reason (and at the journalists for paying attention only to their own plight). Your advertisers were angry at you for using your monopolistic power to overcharge them and for providing inefficient platforms and bad service for so long. But they’re not angry anymore because they left you for better advertising vehicles and better prices in a competitive marketplace.

But you’re the ones who are acting angry. “

It’s hot stuff, and I imagine it’ll get a lot of attention among forward-thinking journalists this week, as more jobs teeter on the edge of extinction, and more journalists working for old media companies tell polsters they have fully lost confidence in the people running their companies.

So Mr. Murdoch, whatcha got to say to old Jarvis here?

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