Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blogging Future of Media 2008

Ross Dawson has a review of FOM2008 and a roundup of subsequent comment from a variety of sources.

This was the third FOM event Ross has staged and it went off very smoothly. The technology has been improving year by year so the cross-continental panel discussions worked better than ever.

I was on The Future of Journalism panel with Jane Schultz from the Australian, Jonathan Este from the Media Alliance and Stephen Quinn from Deakin University. We only linked across to Silicon Valley as an afterthought at the end of the session, but it was this topic that seemed to spark the most passionate responses of the day ... mostly on Twitter.

The Twitter streams focus some angry microbursts largely against Oz Media editor Jane Schultz whom the twitterers identified as representative of a counter-productive old media attitude.

Jonathan Este wrote a delightful piece a day or so later that encapsulates the problem as it was manifest last Tuesday. The problem of "Old Media", as such, is given full bore treatment by Stilgherrian.

What surprised me on the day was the attitude of the new media evangelists. They latched on to some generalised points Jane made and then made their own generalisations in turn to cover off the whole of the media. It's intellectually lazy, but it does fit some of the more wild-eyed enthusiasts' view that the MSM is broken beyond repair.

Once that line was off and running it didn't matter what the rest of us on the panel said.

I must admit, though, it was interesting to watch. Here was a bunch of passionate and intelligent new media consultants and proselytisers who believe deeply in the inevitability of the digital media future, who appear not to have the first clue about the way MSM actually works, and who cling violently to a set of pre-ordained notions about said MSM. So the minute any capital "J" journalist makes a disparaging remark about bloggers or blogging they leap on it and shout "told you so!"

It's a two-way thing, though. Of course ...

But it's still annoying how long this same debate has been going round in circles. Back in January 2005 Jay Rosen declared Blogging v Journalists is over.

In June that year I was writing the Media Blog on and I asked Tim Dunlop from The Road to Surfdom to guest blog and discuss some of these issues.

To my mind Tim personified the best Australian example of non-MSM blogger-as-journalist. I later hired him to write the Blogocracy blog on

It should be said that Tim resists the description "journalist", and although we discussed it at length from his perspective he is a political writer in the public intellectual mode rather than the journalist mode. He nevertheless mixes solid occasional reporting with high quality analysis and comment written in an engaging style. Does that sound like journalism?

It's fair enough that he should choose not to be described as a journalist, but my response to Tim back then was that the best journalists are also public intellectuals of one sort or another. The two things are in no way mutually exclusive. It may come as a surprise to some of Tuesday's critics that even in Australian journalism there is a strong tradition of public intellectualism.

I think this sort of example really shows how pointless the argument is.

Maybe one day we can all move past the schoolyard syndrome and just get on with the job of making, distributing and selling great material ... in whatever format.


* Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen have continued the discussion with particular reference to curmudgeons. Jeff's initial example of curmudgeonly attitude happened at a Blogging conference and came from an MSM news editor. By contrast, last Tuesday's panel in question was on the future of journalism, and while there was indeed some provocation most of the curmudgeons were non-MSM types. So, while I agree with Jay that there are entrenched curmudgeonly attitudes within newsrooms all over the country, I would also say that there are equally entrenched attitudes within the digerati that are simply antagonistic to journalism.

* I ruffled a few feathers by saying that the contributions from the floor last Tuesday displayed a negligable understanding of the way the MSM actually works. And I stand by that. Jarvis and Rosen have both spent a lot of time in and around newsrooms. By contrast being a "tertiary trained" journalist or a freelance contributor is a quite different type of experience. Ben Barren, on the other hand, certainly does understand the challenges facing major media organisations and he also knows a lot about some of the initiatives they are developing in the social media space.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Future of Media Summit

I'm speaking at the Future of Media Summit in Sydney on Tuesday on a "Future of Journalism" panel so have been contemplating talking points ...

Stewart Kirkpatrick has a strong view on the future of journalism question. I tend to agree with much of what he says, although I'm perhaps not quite as pessimistic being still very attached to and ensconced in the newspaper industry.

In the same context, I just stumbled across this video. It references The Economist from nearly two years ago, but the points are still relevant.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Gawking at Gawker's pay rates

From Radar: "for Gawker writers, a million pageviews a month to an individual writer's blog posts will now net that writer $5000. Just back in January, a million pageviews would have gotten a writer $7,500. The reduced pageview rate means that writers must do more—or, of course, more popular!—work to even receive the same rate of pay."

$5 cpm's down from $7.50 at the beginning of the year?

As Jason Calacanis points out, that still ain't bad ... but the pressure is on.

Interesting insight into the way Gawker pays its writers, though.

Masterful PR at Vanity Fair

You've got to hand it to them.

Consistently first class stories, beautifully written and accompanied by the best photography. Vanity Fair is an editorial-led magazine. And it is the complete advertisers' package.

The advertising pages in VF are beautiful to look at - they don't yell at you, they beckon seductively.

It takes nearly a whole month to enjoy this magazine properly. I love it.

I also love the way they use their web site. is really a PR and marketing tool masquerading as a full service magazine site. The site is free, but the magazine leaks articles, on to it one by one as promotion for the current and upcoming print issue.

There's nothing particularly radical in that. But when your site content is as strong as you can take a different tactical approach.

Their approach is to use PR to drive print sales, which of course is where they make the real money.

They do this regularly. Sometimes it's an Annie Leibovitz cover like pre-internet the one of a pregnant Demi Moore.

Today it was a Christopher Hitchens piece about letting himself be subjected to water boarding. lapped it up.

The story was a reprint from The Guardian, two days ago. The Guardian writer had taken Vanity Fair's bait ... and their hook and their line and their sinker too. But theage didn't mind.

I can't understand why theage didn't just write its own version. They did do a video piece. But the way video is presented on the Fairfax sites it really just looks like an afterthought to the serious work of putting words together.

By the way, if you're ever looking for Vanity Fair in an Australian newsagent you'll need to look in the "Women's" section.

Funny that ...