Scripting News for 2/28/2007

NPR conference postscript 

I had a lovely time at the Public Media conference last week.

It had the feel of a user conference, which are really the kinds of conferences I like. And unlike the entertainment industry conferences I’d been to, these people are not so commercial and not bullies. Later, I was told that the people who come to this conference are the people most like bloggers in public media, but I also met a few execs, including the COO and a couple of board members of NPR, and they were excited too.

To say we, the bloggers, were well-received, would be an understatement. We were treated like stars and gurus, our words listened to attentively, our ideas received enthusiastically. What a joy and what a contrast to the tech industry, where bloggers are mostly seen as a business model, not a source of ideas.

Anyway, the post-conference emails are just beginning to be responded to, and I expect lots of good stuff to come from this first visit. There’s talk of doing a BloggerCon for public radio. I’m helping the NewsHour people make their podcast feeds a little more useful. Most important I want to work on a vital exchange of ideas and perspectives across the pro-amateur boundary. I want them to teach us how to produce content up to their standards, so bloggers, podcasters and vloggers who want their work to air on NPR and PBS will know what they’re looking for. And I want our methods to gain adoption in their space. An example is the way the Scripting News community researched the problem with audio on MacBooks yesterday. This open research method can be applied equally well for public media. You just have to let us know what you’re interested in. I promised to help them boot up a research blog, following this model.

To my new friends at NPR and PBS — ignore the naysayers — Andrew Keen and Lowell Bergman can believe what they want, but we want to make the world better, and we feel good about what we’re doing, and if they don’t like it, too bad! :-)

Paul Andrews, formerly of the Seattle Times, continues.

Negotiate with users 

I wonder if, with the benefit of hindsight, the music industry wishes it had done something different with Napster. Shutting it down might have felt good at the time, but did it cure the problem? Might there not have been a way to make hay out of the lemonade?

In other words, could the music industry have struck a new deal with its users, a win-win so we get what we want, and they maintain their cash flow.

An example of a new deal — tolerate the sharing low-rez scans of the music. Set a bit-rate that’s semi-legal, and enforce, with Napster, the rule that anything scanned at a higher rate will immediately be removed, unless it can be shown that the artists permit redistribution of high scan-rate versions. I think even the indies would have gone for this, especially at the time.

The users would have had to realize that this is fair. We would get to share the ideas and feelings of the music, freely, which I think is what we want (it’s what I want) but reserve for the commercial interests the best listening experiences.

The reason this is on-topic right now is because the same battle is playing out now in video, with YouTube. Two recent events caught my eye: 1. Viacom requests that all its content be pulled off YouTube, and then does a deal with Joost for distributing that content. 2. The Oscars ask YouTube to pull down clips from Sunday’s show.

What if, instead, Viacom told YouTube that they could host clips from their shows, but reserved the hi-rez versions for themselves, and maybe they could have negotiated a link from the YouTube low-rez scan to the one served on their site. Anything would be better than the fractured world that’s being re-created now. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if users knew they just had to go to YouTube to find what they’re looking for, knowing that it would lead them to a purchasing experience if they want one.

It seems the entertainment industry doesn’t recognize the power of its users. They’re accustomed to dealing with artists and other companies, esp really large ones, but they haven’t learned how to negotiate with the users, and that’s who they have to deal with, if they want a future.

Update #1: Mark Cuban suggests a different negotiation with the user: Post a short verison of the video on YouTube, with the full version on the Oscars site, linked to by the video on YouTube. Not bad, but I like the lo-rez vs hi-rez approach better, as a user (which is what I am).

SF Chronicle: “The RIAA has sued thousands of college students since 2003.”

Today’s links 

I’m trying an experiment with Scripting News. Now every item has a title, and I’m doing longer items, and leaving the linkblogging out. That doesn’t mean I don’t see pieces on other sites that I want to come back to (that’s often why I link to something here), but I just haven’t yet found a way to make that fit into the new regime.

So how about this — a “today’s links” section. Let’s see how that plays.

To kick it off, an interesting idea from CalacanisLand.

Calacanis: “Someone should make the Starbucks of office space.”

With little more Google juice I might just own Suze Orman. (However, I’m not sure what I’d do if I did.)

Also I still have a nice chunk of John Doerr. :-)

For ten points, guess who is the “senior administration official” in this press release from the Office of the Vice-President of the United States. Hint: He is one heartbeat from being president.

Heads-up on a service change 

This note is of interest to people in the OPML community taking advantage of the free directory hosting feature called Map A Domain. A few months ago we changed the address of the server to 67.18.151.44, but we still supported sites that were mapped to the old domain.

I’m finally at a point where I can shut off the old server completely, and I’ll do that by the end of March. If you have a directory hosted with this service, please map that domain to the new address, 67.18.151.44, asap, so that readers will be able to find your directories.

Here’s a list of domains that must be remapped to point to 67.18.151.44:

http://bayareapodcasts.org/

http://directory.donovanwatts.com/

http://icann.lextext.com/

http://opml.casdra.com/

http://opml.casdracast.com/

http://opml.devize.nl/

http://opml.lextext.com/

http://opml.onepolarstar.com/

http://opml.readerss.com/

http://opml.yabfog.com/

http://outline.olav.net/

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dobedo on February 28, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Just to go further on your suggestion:

    - On the Newshour web site why not put a comments section (just like your comments section) after each story.

    - It would be great if the journalists at NPR would use blogs as a way of finding experts on topics in the news. If your doing a story on Apple, for example, getting a comment from the main Apple bloggers seems like a no brainer.

    - Finally, bloggers might bring in some people with some younger ideas. Newsflash to NPR: there are people out there who don’t like Windham Hill and who are NOT interested in that comeback album by that guy you liked so much in 1960′s.

    Reply

  2. I was right there with you until you made age the issue. I think my mind, at 51, is quite a bit more open to change than a lot of people half my age. Don’t limit people based on superficial things like gender, race — or age.

    Reply

  3. Great posts lately, Dave. Much of your analysis has helped me clarify and filter my thinking on the evolution of journalism in a Web and online context. I’ve characterized this by asking the question, What is journalism for? Based on a continuum from pure profit motive (making as much $$ as possible) to defending democratic principles including free speech and the right to know (pure principle, maybe to the exclusion of profit!), how that question gets answered by any particular brand or medium says volumes about the direction of journalism. See Newscloud’s “Media Reform” group for a rundown on recent musings.

    Reviewing recent discussions in MSM, including last night’s Frontline piece on The News War, I’m struck by a misconception MSM (especially newspaper execs) purvey about the Web: Without news reports from professional media, especially newspapers and resulting wire, the blogosphere and Web as well would have almost no newsworthy content. Everything emanates from traditional print and broadcast-based media, in other words; the Web is pretty much entirely derivative.

    And the reporters, of course, let this assumption go unchallenged.

    If I were with a news exec and he ran this one by me, I’d start out by asking for examples. And they would probably be Yahoo! and Google news.

    Then I would say, OK, point me to a few representative blogs. And I’m confident that whatever choice they made, the blogs would have few if any links to Yahoo! or Google news, nor to any MSM. Because a parallel universe is erupting, one which is creating its own news (and journalistic) context, that has little dependence on MSM.

    Moreover, and this is another MSM implication that goes unchallenged, 99 percent of “news” is simply regurgitated or reworked press releases from some official corporatocratic source. Without MSM these sources could issue their own press releases via the Web, it’d be simple. The only role MSM is serving is in validation. The fact that MSM audiences in all media are dwindling is a direct challenge to that validation. It does not hold any more, because the validation stemmed from a handshake that is now broken: That MSM would represent and defend the interests of its onetime constituency — the American public. Instead MSM represents and defends the interests of its advertisers and the power structure, at the expense of any real investigative mission to “raise hell.” Somewhere along the line, MSM started answering the question What is journalism for? with an equation aimed at satisfying advertisers and the privileged, and that may well be the readership and viewer base it is left with as the public abandons it for the Web.

    Could MSM regain the validation? With the incredible resources they have, you bet! Remember, advertisers and the power structure originally cultivated MSM because it had the trust of readers and viewers! But MSM “committing journalism” would mean risking its bond with advertisers and the corporate/government power structure, and for the time being that’s too great a threat to consider.

    Keep up the great work!
    Paul

    PS. I love the age point. The paper up here recently ran a Page 1 item which I think said verbatim, “In case you were born before 1980, lol is Internet shorthand for laugh out loud.” Hey, I was born decades before 1980 and knew what lol was the first time I saw it, and have explained it and numerous other online TLAs to dozens of folks of ALL ages in the intervening years.

    Reply

  4. Lowell Bergman’s piece was so amazingly eye opening I am ordering three copies of the DVD for editors and publishers I know, with the intent of circulating them to at least two people each (who I have already identified). It was just an incredible piece of work, he should be very very proud. I mean, Wow.

    Reply

  5. PS I’m amazed other people reacted differently, I guess I shouldn’t be. But looking at it with MY set of eyes, I saw a trumpeting of some very real reporting on the part of online publishers, from Rathergate to Thurmond to an acknowledgment that there are literally *hundreds* of other stories out there that would go unreported but for bloggers, they highlighted this on a very local level. Yes they gave voice to people in the media who have other perspectives, but this is the reality of how people think, and there is a kernel of truth that there is LOTS of original reporting coming out of newspapers. I also saw a very daming indictment of what is happening at many newspapers, along with an intelligent counterpoint.

    Dean Baquet’s drive for Pulitzer for example is held up to both a negative light, from the well spoken finance guy who said it came at the expense of local coverage, and in a positive light.

    Reply

  6. I haven’t seen the third installment yet, but I’ll probably see it the way Jeff Jarvis and Paul Andrews do, based on the earlier episodes, I see it as an old tired story, been told too many times, and based on some very wrong assumptions.

    The one thing all these analysts miss is the role of the source, and how the blogging world has removed the reporter as a gatekeeper keeping sources from going direct to people who are interested in what they know.

    I think that’s where we excel, not so much in reporting, which each of us has to do for ourselves, but the source material on the web is so much richer than it is in print or on TV.

    I talked about that with the NewsHour people at dinner on Saturday, they do extensive interviews with each of their subjects, why not put the full interviews on the net. I think there’s a decent chance they will.

    And today on TV (2/28/07), oy, it’s amazing to see so much Anna Nicole Smith on the cable networks when the American economy is hanging on a thread. We’re not being served there, not one bit.

    Reply

  7. Tamago the first peer to peer open market.

    “We don’t needs no stick’n labels.”

    Reply

  8. Ryan, that’s what I heard, too. The reporter didn’t challenge statements like “bloggers don’t do original reporting” but the piece as a whole did, by telling about bloggers doing original reporting.

    Reply

  9. opml.readerss.com mapping done.
    thanks Dave.

    Reply

  10. Amy, yes, that’s a good way of putting it. It’s a restrained style I personally prefer, and I would argue it’s a hallmark of Frontline. However I must admit Lowell appeared a little more aggressive questioning the new publisher of LAT. I choose not to attribute this to malice but to maybe the guy not saying a lot and clamming up, which is what my intuition told me was happening when I watched it.

    Reply

  11. Dave I confess I can’t remember part 3 fleshing that out. It is indeed a key point. Somehow it was pretty inspiring nevertheless, for me at least.

    Reply

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