Press Power to The People

I keep getting the question “whattcha doin with yourself these days?” So I decided I need a blog post to clear things up. I’ve had a pretty enlightening last few months. I’ve been working with a talented, passionate, close-knit team studying the shifting sands of online publishing, specifically as it relates to where and how people are consuming content. Like I said in my post on values, community is a priority for me this year. And, for good reason. It’s a priority for most people living a portion of their lives online.

By now it’s no secret that the big news outlets are scrambling to figure out how to keep their highly distracted, socialized readers. Consumers have a lot of options these days, not least of which includes reading versions of events curated by people they know and trust. Wait a minute, who handed all these people a printing press? Now what?

The traditional media industry is panicking. (Woohoo, another industry with problems to be solved. Let me at it. I’m a sucker.) The biggest of the big media moguls, Rupert Murdoch, is pretty darn possessive of his content, going to great lengths to make sure that the Google Goliath doesn’t steal his advertising revenue. You can just hear him screaming “That content is mine, mine, mine. Give it back! And while you’re at it, you owe me $50 kajillion in lost revenue.”

Some media outlets are trying to solve their problems by locking down content. Smart? Not really. The users just end up going elsewhere.

Clipped from: by

A few months back, Newsday, the Long Island daily walled off content charging subscribers $5/month. Within 3 months, only 35 people had registered. Oh boy, how do you back track on that bad decision? Still others, including Pierre Omidyar, are launching community journalism sites like  “The Honolulu Civil Beat” or fresh-out-of-the-can “OpenFile” which launched into beta this month. While these sites solve the problem of providing a more community-centric view of the news, they still lock down their content which makes it really challenging for consumers to see what they’re missing out on. Ironically, a couple of weeks ago “The Honolulu Civil Beat” announced that their content would be free for a limited period of time. Right on boys. Way to use your content to sell, um, your content.

Sure content wants to be free and it also wants to be expensive. How else are we going to make sure we can keep the quality content coming? Especially in today’s environment, where readers are clustering around their closest community leaders to gather opinions and information more suited to their social circle. I want the good stuff but now I’m more likely to find it in my community rather than spend my time searching for it myself. If it comes from the NYT, great. If it comes from another local source, that’s fine too. If my trusted friend/colleague/voice-of-my-community writes about it, I’m going to read it.

And if this obsessive disgorging and contributing produces, as Jarvis acknowledges, “a mountain of crap,” this just means the next big thing will be about sorting, sifting, and filtering the crap.From

So what if those wise community leaders aka bloggers are really about rallying the vote for great content? That’s where I get to tell you why I joined Free Range Content, the makers of I get to help take the blinders off about where this stuff is coming from, who else is reading it, and where they’re going after that. There’s so much juicy unexplored data. And that my friends is what gets me hot. Really, I’m such a behaviorist at heart. Think about the possibilities for a major publisher like Vanity Fair. They’ve just launched an article about celebrity plastic surgery, outing some of the biggies. Advertisers like Oil of Olay, Botox, and Bright White who’ve been giving the sales reps hell are threatening revolt if page views don’t increase. The article launches, the clipnorati start clipping, the readers start clicking, and the sales rep walks into the next sales call not only armed with results from the site, but incremental page views, data on specific sites and communities our readers have carried them to, incremental click data, and a much better sense of the behavior that this type of article drives. What’s more, commentary collected from those niche audiences can be collected to help shape the next big article. That’s “money.”

But why wait to use on big stuff. Sometimes it’s just as fun to share trollcats.

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