Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Changing Media Landscape

A panel hosted by the first blogger at Cisco, John Earnhardt who now is the lead blogger for News@Cisco with Eric Savitz of Barrons, Dan Gillmor, Dean Takahashi of the Mercury News, and Tom Foremski of SiliconValleyWatcher.

Dan Gillmor: One is not replacing the other - social media is not replacing traditional media, but it is going to be messy for a while for large media. It gives me heartache to watch what is happening at the Chronicle and Mercury News right now. These are friends who are doing good work.



Tom Foremski: An epiphany about social media, where it does barely support a man with a bedroom, but there is going to be a major reckoning. It is going to be very painful for the mainstream media. New media is going to be the future of traditional media, because it is using the same tools. It is not going to save journalism but it's about the economics about social media.

Eric Savitz: It is going to be very painful. Professionally created media versus consumer generated media. At the end of the day, it's about finding a way to make it work. A lot of media is under pressure, and you need to find a way to monetize the audience. There will still be an audience for print media.

Dean Takahashi: There is something to be said about the safe position. Not taking the huge risk, but able to explore. What is the meaning of the brand - does the Mercury News extend to the Web? Does my name mean anything out on the Web?

How do you survive in the blogosphere without editors? Is it relished because you are your own editor?

Foremski: Consistently great media has an editor that keeps a consistent voice. It helps to keep the voice.

Savitz: We have spent time in the journalism business, learned how to write a story. We all know how to edit, but an editor does keep us above the board and protection.

The threshold is different for a blog - are you pitched for the blog?

Takahashi: The blog is somewhat different - and I am trying to make it different. I write it like I'm taking you inside a place. If you can get me into a place, and talk to some people, that the readers would never get to see, those are different pitches than what I would do for a newspaper. Otherwise not that big a difference.

Gillmor: All your corporate sites are media. Monetizing audiences is traditional thinking, and what is now is that you need to assemble a conversation and community, and monetize directly or indirectly. It will be useful in a non-business model way. What is being done is that corporations are creating media, and would love it if companies approached the sites like citizen media, with the tenets of traditional media.



Foremski: The local market is the biggest market right now, but how do you get local? It's not software or algorithms - you have to be out there in the community. The future is local.

Gillmor: Placeblogger.com - helping incubate it, and got a foundation grant to help grow it. Blogs about places and aggregating them into something coherent. It can be quite remarkable, if it works - include geocaching and other local code-based items for advertisers. Google ads on local blogs tend to be fundamentally useless. But, if they can be ads connected to local places.

Do reporters need new skills - in journalism school and at newspapers. Here we have vidcasting and podcasting, what are the new skills?

Foremski: As journalists, we can barely spell and type. You have to learn new skills all the time, and it is being some coding: Java-script, HTML, creating new formats. It's the media engineer age.

Gillmor: Our goal at Berkeley is to create a product for journalism, entrepreneurial journalism, to come up with an idea of a product and launch it.



Savitz: That's like asking us to be typesetters - there is not a huge need for journalists to learn the hardcore tech. There are different set of skills, where we are forced to rethink our place in journalism. We are being forced to look at the world of journalism with a business view, just some of the people that are pushing into the new world.

Foremski: [One person brought up that the new media is the Prius media, the hyprid of media] - and people are being forced to do one or two jobs at once - blogging, podcasting and traditional journalism.

From the audience: what about shield laws and code-of-conducts for bloggers?

Gillmor: It is important to protect journalism - note that journalism, not necessarily journalists - and it is hard to say whether or not blogging needs a code of conduct. If the traditional media industry does not adhere to a code, why the hell should bloggers? People should be honourable, but what are the permutations of that?

Some code that someone enforces it - the marketplace of ideas sorts these things out pretty well.

Foremski: There is not a code that can be monitored. The market takes care of these things, and if you act in such a way that is not honorable the market, the audience, will call you on it and stop reading your blog.

Follow-up: What about the WSJ blogola article?

Gillmor: Transparency - the future of journalism is about transparency.

Savitz: If you don't have to give the camera back, it's the sunshine rule. You can then make the decision if you trust or do not trust the blogger. I even write about the News Corp bid on Dow Jones, and disclose my conflict. You need to give your readers as much information as possible, and let them make the decision (if it is going to color their views of the blog)

Earnhardt: Look at Kara Swisher's disclosure - it's personal, it's best practice.

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