I’m beyond irritated with the quality of news we get in the US. It seems their latest thing is trying to scare the crap out of everyone about the “Swine Flu.” This morning I even saw rumblings about the Swine Flu thwarting the economic recovery. If I’m not mistaken, the news agencies are funded by advertising and the amount companies spend on advertising is linked to how well the economy is doing. So … isn’t it best for the news agencies to have a good economy? It seems to me their deliberate drive to scare the crap out of everyone is very short-sighted. Sure panic and sensational headlines may grab eyeballs, but those eyeballs aren’t the ones paying media producers to deliver the news. I’m not saying that the news should only report good things — but what I’m suggesting is perhaps the news should get back into the business of delivering the news instead of opinion and tabloid sensationalism. A balance of good and bad news would be nice. Clearly separating the news from opinion and taking a serious look into what is news worthy and what is not would be nice. Seriously, does 40 confirmed cases of the Swine Flu, which so far has manifested itself as the normal flu, equal a pandemic and the precursor to global financial meltdown? And, seriously, do the media producers wish for global financial meltdown, because that would mean they would go extinct too. So media producers and news people out there, give the news some thought before you start spouting sensational headlines and spinning everyone up with apocalytic prophecies and crazy what-if-a-frog-had-a-glass-ass scenarios. Be responsible in your reporting and most importantly quit “driving” world events into the ground! It’s irritating. So irritating in fact, that I’ve limited my access to news to ~about 1-min/day to make sure the world still exists, while at the same time keeping myself from spiraling into mental depression.
I’ve been following the news coming out of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) conference. Here’s a link to latest thread as Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt adds his 2-cents. Basically the newspapers have discovered that “free” isn’t a business model while, at the same time, they have no idea how to regain control of the distribution of their content from the millions of bloggers and aggregators out there in the world. The thing I don’t understand is why they object to bloggers and aggregators providing links to their content and why they are acting like the music industry folks and “hating” upon their customers. First of all links are the life’s blood of the internet. If you want people to find your content, then links to your content (along with quality content) will help put your content on top of the Google stack (links are the Internet’s “street cred”). What news agencies don’t want is bloggers and aggregators reprinting content in whole without crediting or linking back to the source.
Let’s take a look at my interaction with Ad Age. I pay a subscription to Ad Age because I find the content compelling. I ended up getting a subscription because of links from the CEA news aggregator. Some Ad Age articles are free, but not all of them. I wanted access to this news so I pay for it. What a concept! In my blogging I put links to Ad Age in them and if my readers want to read the Ad Age source they can choose to pay and read the source article. Mind blowing isn’t it? So what’s the secret? Um … it’s called compelling content!
So with respect to bloggers, news agencies want them to find their content. News agencies want bloggers to pay to read content and then repackage the headlines so they compel their readers to follow the links back to the source. Those readers, then, will be confronted with the choice to pay to read further. So my message to the news agencies is that they should show some love to bloggers rather than “hating” upon them. Most people like their news pre-digested and spoon fed to them. Get used to it! Understand who it is that wants to get beyond the headlines and serve that audience. Quit worrying about the masses for which the “cesspool” of the Internet and headlines are good enough. Let the bloggers and the aggregators have the close relationship with the masses — use them as envoys. I think Eric Schmidt got it right by telling the news agency execs and reps,
These are ultimately consumer businesses, and if you piss off enough of them, you ultimately won’t have any.
Here’s an interesting article from Ad Age about the decline in viewership of and advertising during the network news. Some “Duh” points brought up is that fact that the desired core demographic of upper income 18 – 49-year olds are not at home during the evening news hours (4 – 7PM). Consequently, the average age of evening news viewers is 60 — retired folks I imagine. Personally, I don’t bother watching the local or evening news broadcasts because they are neither informative nor entertaining. I get my news from the radio, via the Internet, and reading print magazines — that is if I care to get the news. Sometimes I skip the news that isn’t tech related due to fatique. I know that sounds bad, but honestly has anything really changed in the last few weeks with regards to the US Presidential Election, Iraq, and the US economy? I would like to get some world news, but believe it or not, International news is kinda hard to come by in the US.
Interestingly, Ad Age is also running a series of articles on the decline of the newspapers. The article run today speculates as newspaper readers die, they aren’t being replaced with new readers. I wonder if that’s the case for network news as well.
Moving on, the article is careful to explain that the news is not no longer relevant. Rather, people have more choices for how they consume the news — TV, radio, and the Internet via computers, cellphones, and other mobile devices. As such, it seems that advertisers can diversify their ads efforts. In my own experience, I see that news websites have a lot more videos now. I find the videos to be a pain for news items that could be described in 3 paragraphs or less. This is due to the load time for the video and the unavoidable 30-60-secs of ads that is tacked on to the front of the stream — sooo annoying. So much for high speed Internet … dear gosh the ISPs need to hurry up an upgrade their infrastructures.
On the whole, though, I’d say that the most useful and detailed news comes from online and print magazines. Broadcast and Internet news amounts to a bunch of sounds bites that generally remind people of the major headlines. The print magazines, though, like newpapers have nice long meaty articles. Unlike newspapers thought, most magazines are weekly, bi-weekly, or monthlies. Since they are easy to transport, a magazine can be taken almost anywhere for convenient reading at the reader’s leisure. Perhaps this contributes to the continued success of magazines. Perhaps this, too, could be the future of the newspaper — fewer issues, small form factor, and glossy media. I think I would get a weekly San Diego/San Diego county news magazine if there was one. What about you?
Anyhow, use the link given in the first sentence to read the article.