Media

You Are No Longer In Control

“Being in media is terrifying right now. Whereas in the old days, you wrote something and then a fleet of people printed it and handed it to X hundred thousand people so they would read it, now, the fleet is gone. You are alone out there in the ocean and there’s not much that anyone can do for any given story to make sure that people read it. […] We do not control the distribution of our work. Period.”

-The Atlantic


Hey, You Wanna Hear a Good Story?

Eve Batey and Justin Beck were very nice to ask me to talk to them about why I decided to leave social media as a career and go back to waiting tables and writing. The conversation was recorded for their media podcast Punching Down. 

Eve and Justin came all the way to me in the Mission, and Justin even brought beer. And not cheap Miller, neither. 

It only took one Day Beer to get my big mouth moving. 

You can listen to me talk Nashville is Talking, what happened after I flounced out of WKRN in a huff, how my work translated in San Francisco, how taking that job in New York was a mistake and why after a short stint in San Jose I said, "Fuck it. I'll just wait tables and write."

Hear all that stuff here.


Want Authenticity in your Brand? Take a Tiny Risk.

"Use social media to be authentic. Use social media to show you are human. Use social media to show a little personality."

These are mantras, orders, directions, suggestions, broken records heard in corporate environments 'round the world, but bosses, managers, directors, head honchos are unsure exactly how to do that. What does one mean by "be authentic"? Hasn't his hard work day in and day out been authentic? He thinks it has. He isn't wrong.

Show I am human?, she muses. I am an on-air host for a TV station. I move and talk and walk and investigate in front of cameras. How could I be any more human than I am already? It's not a stupid question. And personality? Her title is television personality. 

I think what they mean is this.

You see, The Today Show has a Tumblr. That's already a smart move. This Tumblr blog links to, among other things, videos on The Today Show website with short little quips or still images added, making it more micro-bloggy. These posts flow into Tumblr users' dashboards and Today Show videos these users would have never seen otherwise get watched. Why is that?

Because someone updating The Today Show Tumblr took a tiny risk.

Hellobeautiful
Not only did the author of this Today Show Tumblr post take a tiny risk by expressing opinion about a guest's appearance, he or she also tagged the post with the term "delish." 

That's funny. It's also brave for a morning news show. But they know that Tumblr users are not their traditional audience and by being familiar with the ways that people use that medium (by employing tags like "delish", etc.), they were able to endear themselves to an entirely different group of individuals than those who normally watch The Today Show.

The reaction was glee, lots of reblogs and plenty of heart clicking. When a Tumblr blogger jokingly asked, "OMG TODAY SHOW WHAT ARE YOU DOING," the Today Show Tumblr author didn't freak out and delete the post or apologize and backpedal. He or she responded with, "We’re just doing what you’re already thinking."

Which is honest and playful and further endearing these users to The Today Show brand, all because this author did something unexpected, a little brave and stuck by the post.

Newsweek even chimed in with "Media Tumblrs: WE ARE PEOPLE TOO!"

Which is true. Tumblr users know how Tumblrs get made. Even the ones for major television programs where the stars make many, many millions of dollars. It's one or two people, maybe a small team--maybe--deciding what to publish and how to do it and how often and how come. To pretend that the author of that Today Show Tumblr post doesn't have an opinion or a sense of humor or a mind of their own is dishonest. This is what they mean by "be authentic." It kinda just comes down to "don't lie." 

We know that is an attractive actor. They know that is an attractive actor. Saying it aloud in the right forum--one where the audience can recognize and appreciate your tiny risk--is not a danger to your company's bottom line. It just isn't. 

To the first set of mantras and orders listed at the head of this post I'd add, "Take reasoned, tiny risks." It's what people do. It's what people have to do as humans. In this way your company can be more like the people it aims to reach. And the payoff can be tremendous.


A Little About Aunt B and Her New Book

There's this woman I know named Betsy, and she's in every way awesome. She fucking kills me on so many levels. First of all, smart as a whip. Like, you go have a drink with her and suddenly you start penciling in library time on your calendar because you can suddenly feel a little dim. But it's not like she's all snobby and smug like a lot of smart people, who love nothing more than to make others feel unintelligent. That's not it. It's that she has this razor wit and she'll reference something you totally know, but she does it in such a sly, clever manner that you don't catch on to what you missed til you are driving home later.

And she has the best laugh. She's one of these people who throws her head back and laughs with her whole body, and even if you are pissed off or crying, you can't help but laugh back. She's also just as funny in real life, if not more, than she is at her hilarious Tiny Cat Pants

I found Tiny Cat Pants when I first started the blogging job at WKRN, and I was immediately charmed by its tagline: "Is there anything funnier than tiny cat pants?" At the time I discovered this question, I thought no. There couldn't possibly be anything funnier than that until I read the blog. The answer to that tagline is clear: Yes, there is, and its Tiny Cat Pants.

Here's the thing, though. Her blog is not jokes. No way. It's genuine, good-hearted humor. That's why it translates into real humor in real life. She's not trying too hard. She just is who she is, and she does it on a blog. And it's real, and it's always, always thought provoking, and it's fair, almost all the time, and if she says something she regrets, she says so. The woman is never loathe to admit a mistake.

Anyway, I admire the shit out of her. She's a strong-willed, beautiful soul who will defend you, support you, tickle you and serve you wine in her backyard in a mason jar on a hammock.

And she wrote a book. A book about ghosts and their stories in and around Nashville. 

This woman's writing reads like breathing--effortlessly. She's a master at the craft, in my humble opinion, and while her blog is scattered in topic, I can't wait to see her nail down this single idea.

You have to buy it. It's not optional. Do yourself the favor, and bring the delight of my friend Betsy into your home. It's a far cry from having her swapping stories and swatting flies with you, but hey, we can't all be so lucky.

Get it here.

And here is the book's website.


Media, Meet 48 Hour Magazine

"Is print dead?"

"Is print dead?"

"Hey! Is print dead?"

You don't have to be a player of inside baseball to have heard that question bandied about over and over again. Whether or not the printed word is terminally ill is not only the source of consternation at publishing houses and newspapers, it is also a discussion being had around dinner tables. The question isn't just the reason why magazine ad men drink at night (or in the morning), the question has become a constant for even the most casual of observers.

Of course, some would staunchly argue, print is not dead. Nor is it dying, nor is it going away any time soon. Others, however, aren't so sure, and their uncertainty is compounded by a loss in print advertising dollars the likes of which the industry has never seen.

Magazines are folding, newspapers are bleeding money like stuck pigs, and radio and TV aren't faring much better. There has been a sea change, and how the tides will turn is anyone's guess.

Recently McSweeney's was lauded for its San Francisco-centric Panorama, a "21st Century newspaper prototype." Dave Eggers and pals assembled talented writers, reporters, photographers, and designers, and together they produces a sprawling, gorgeous, color-printed newspaper that was a sight to behold. The content was solid. The layout was superb.

Thing is, the paper cost readers a hefty $16 to purchase--not what one is used to paying for a newspaper, no matter how pristine. And despite its excellence, get this: It took nearly a full year to bring the Panorama paper to fruition.

While Panorama is a worthwhile special project, the cost and time do not a sustainable business model make.

Enter: 48 Hour Magazine.

According to the website, 48 Hour Magazine is:

Welcome to 48 Hour Magazine, a raucous experiment in using new tools to erase media's old limits. As the name suggests, we're going to write, photograph, illustrate, design, edit, and ship a magazine in two days.

Here's how it works: Issue Zero begins May 7th. We'll unveil a theme and you'll have 24 hours to produce and submit your work. We'll take the next 24 to snip, mash and gild it. The end results will be a shiny website and a beautiful glossy paper magazine, delivered right to your old-fashioned mailbox. We promise it will be insane. Better yet, it might even work.

So far, 3200 people have signed up to contribute. 3200.

Think about that number for a second. 3200 people--3200 web-centric people--are interested in making a quality print magazine happen.. That is a staggering number. And if the result of this project could very well be a solid, readable, captivating magazine. It is a lofty goal, but one not unachievable.

Traditional media outlets are not nimble. They are not quick. They are many things, but agile is not one of them, and this is to their detriment.

Watch closely this 48 Hour Magazine experiment, especially if you are interested in the shifting paradigms of media. It just might be something spectacular.

RELATED: Follow 48 Hour Magazine on Twitter

I'm Newsed Up

A sales rep for the San Francisco Chronicle called my work number to try to sell me their newspaper. I told them that I was at work and very busy, and that I also was not interested.

She then asked why I didn't want the paper delivered to my home.

I paused. The millions of reasons why not trucked by before me.

"Because I read my news online. And I'm a news blogger. And I work for CBS 5. I am swimming in news."

She laughed and said, "Oh! Guess I am preaching to the choir."

I wasn't sure what that meant, exactly, but I could tell based on her voice that she'd heard that answer about people getting news online many times already today.

[Photo by uzvards]

I Am Not a Journalist

It has been asked, by local media mavens and anonymous assholes alike, what the hell I'm doing at CBS 5. A comment I made in response to someone who asked me why I wasn't doing any "newsgathering" at the station perhaps can clear that up:

[M]y role here is to read, promote, highlight and otherwise cover the local blogosphere. We have a bevy of talented and tenacious reporters and producers on staff who do a fantastic job at newsgathering. By having someone reading hyperlocal blogs in house, CBS 5 can be aware of myriad local issues that no news team can thoroughly cover 100% of the time. Thanks to blogs like Claycord.com, and CBS 5's willingness to listen to area bloggers and have a relationship with them, newgathering can be a symbiotic process--not to mention a new and exciting one. I like the notion that a news team is listening to local citizens who might just know better than they do what is going on in their neighborhoods. It shows respect for the viewer and a real concern for the community.

You want to know something? I'm a shitty newsgatherer. Hard news is not my bag. My degree is in magazine journalism, a certificate I got in hopes of writing long-form profile pieces, or maybe film criticism. This blogging in a newsroom thing fell into my lap, but never once have I ever stated that I am a reporter. I am not. I don't even consider myself a journalist.

Because I publish for a news station, people want to box me in to what *they* think newsroom employees should be. I'm the first to admit that an opinionated blogger in the newsroom is a jolt to an age-old system, but I'm just doing the job I've been asked to do. Which is to cover the local blogosphere the best way I know how--by blogging about it.

Here's the thing, though: I don't have to do any original reporting for the station to benefit. The Bay Area is crawling with people passionate about their communities. They have their feelers out, covering the legislature, watching their streets and otherwise covering the San Francisco-area like a blanket. In fact, there are so many awesome local bloggers out there breaking and reporting news that you need a human to point you to the best and most important stuff. This, my friends, is my job.

Sure, I could provide more and better original content. I could do longer, more thoroughly researched pieces. I have vast room for improvement. I am too often lured by the pressure to post more and more often, and my work suffers for it from time to time. I can be lazy; it's true. But I don't feel like the way I need to improve is by doing shoeleather reporting. There are better folks at that than me, and I've got other things to offer. I'm not the best writer in the world, nor am I all that funny. I'll agree with you there. But I won't agree that I need to be out "doing real reporting," because my title is blogger. Not reporter. Let's leave real reporting to the experts--the working journalists and the citizen ones who live and work and play in the communities they cover.

UPDATE #1: Here's how my job as a non-journalist blogger pays off:

I never liked channel 5.I was always a ktvu kind of guy. But ever since I started reading claycord I've noticed they cover our area better than anybody else,and now I watch them every night and read their website everyday.

KTVU is #1 in this market. Sure, this is just one person's account, but this is a new way of winning viewers in the digital age--proving your trust as a news providers in innovative ways.


Kleinheider's Post Politics is Open for Business

This morning I woke up on the right side of the bed. I looked out the window onto a hazy landscape and declared that today would be a good day.

So, imagine my thrill to find in my inbox a note from my dear friend Adam about his brand new political blog Post Politics hosted by the very wise Nashville Post*. It's live. He's back (opinion and analysis and all!). And I'm elated. More elated than someone should rightly be about a blog.

The day continues to be a good one.

*Had to scroll allll the way to the bottom of the blog to find a link to their front page. I am a fan of the subtle branding. And the blog looks fantastic and robust.** Did I mention I'm thrilled?

**Nope, not jealous in the least.