Metrotwin: Why Every Company is a Media Company

Metrotwin Consider British Airways’ Metrotwin – London & New York, a site that has information about London and New York, the airline’s two most important cities. It’s the best evidence yet that all companies with a public presence — which is to say almost all companies, period — are becoming media companies in addition to their core businesses

At his New Media Education Summit, Richard Edelman, CEO of the PR company that bears his family’s name, made the key observation any business can boost its value by using new media. Among the projects he cited as evidence was Metrotwin, an Edelman client..

The site incorporates information of various kinds, including ratings, from various sources including users. I wonder if it can possibly attain any kind of critical mass. It seeks to serve a niche, but to do so in a deep way.

The site notably asks for contributors: “We are looking for people to become contributing editors. We will reward you with BA Miles.” Now that’s a reward capable of drawing people.

It’ll be fascinating to see how this develops.

New Media Academic Summit

Call it social media, new media or just plain media. The state of media today is not as grim as you’ve been hearing.

That’s what I’m planning to tell the Edelman New Media Academic Summit tomorrow in Washington, where Richard Edelman and his team at the largest privately held PR agency in the world are continuing to break ground in their field. They’re hosting a group of educators from America’s journalism schools. The gathering’s purpose is to discuss

how companies, organizations and media effectively engage all their stakeholders through social media; to help academics inform their curricula with insights into the rapidly evolving communications landscape; and to identify the skills students need to pursue a career in the communications industry.

The students I teach leave our course with some understanding of this, or at least I hope they do. But it’s fair to say that schools of journalism and communication, which typically are the places that teach PR and advertising, are somewhat behind the curve when it comes to helping students take what they already know — social media participation — and apply it to the world of persuasion that they’re going to enter.

I told our panel moderator, Shelby Coffey, the former LA Times executive editor who’s now a Senior Fellow and Trustee at the Newseum in Washington, that my approach to the panel title, “The State of the Media: Today and Tomorrow,” would be slightly contrarian in that I don’t think things are as bad as so many people are saying, and I’m confident (though not certain) that we’re going to get this right in the long run.

So I’m going to say the following:

First, let’s not mourn newspapers and local news broadcasts, though they clearly are dying, at least in the forms they once took in a media era of monopoly and oligopoly. I don’t necessarily cheer this development. It’s clearly leading to some loss, at least temporarily, of journalism that has shown great value in the past. But I do celebrate the growing diversity of the news ecosystem, which will be more resilient and healthy than the relative monoculture of the recent past.

Second, as noted in the post below this one, we’re seeing a slew of experiments and development of new media forms and business models, accompanied by an entrepreneurial spirit — spurred in part by the demise of what we’ve had — that is truly new in recent times. We will surely have enough “content” in the future, and lots of it will be excellent content at that.

Third, all the great new journalism and information won’t matter if we don’t fix the even bigger problem. It’s not so much a supply problem but a demand issue going forward. We have created a lazy society when it comes to having trustworthy information, and our cultural laziness will lead us to even deeper ruin if we don’t turn the passive consumers of the past half-century into active users of media in the future. As noted here before, that is a major goal of the Mediactive project.

Finally, journalism and communications education needs to incorporate this shift into our core curriculum. In many respects, our students are way ahead of us, namely, as noted, their implicit understanding of social media. In our programs, and in others, understanding how to use media will be a skill that pays off during their entire lifetimes.

Oh, Please: USA Today’s Ridiculous Twitter Experiment

USA Twitter OK, the Twitter media bubble has now reached an apex. Today’s USA Today has a Money section cover story that it touts in this way: “Reporting cover story for USA Today entirely on Twitter.

The piece collects quotes from some important business people, including some CEOs, and purports to be a great and valuable example of how the latest hyped media tool is being used. The reporter wondered whether the executives believed that America is “drifting away from capitalism toward a European-style hybrid of capitalism and socialism” — and used Twitter to ask.

I think Twitter has enormous potential, and it’s already shown great value in many ways. There’s an amazing ecosystem forming around the tool, and Twitter (and, one hopes, its competitors in the space) are helping to redefine how networked communications will work.

But USA Today’s experiment is more than a little ridiculous. Why? Because collecting quotes that run 140 or fewer characters provides nothing but a collection of tiny sound bytes — and the issue of whether America is sliding into a form of capitalism (or whatever this is) that will change the nature of our society deserves better. Even the follow-up questions by the reporter don’t elicit much more than sound-byte replies.

Again, I’m a huge fan of Twitter. But this story in a respectable national newspaper — a story that spends a lot of time wondering why some CEOs didn’t answer the reporter’s tweets — doesn’t advance online collaboration, or journalism.

When Others Delete Your Past

Searching for Thomas Crampton  



Searching for Thomas Crampton

Industries that talk proudly of the “content” they offer — raise your hand, journalism organizations — have a special need to preserve what they’ve created in a consistent and easy-to-find way. Content, in this context, includes the links that people have been using to find it.

You would imagine that the news industry would understand this. If so, you would be overestimating the industry’s collective common sense.

Continue reading When Others Delete Your Past

Using Distributed Media (and People) to Ask Hard Questions

Rice at Stanford

Ari Melber, at Personal Democracy Forum, explains “Condi Rice’s Tortured Macaca Moment,” in which Stanford University students questioned the former secretary of state about her role in our nation’s torture of prisoners in recent years. To call her response inept is an understatement, as many have explained (see Scott Horton’s deconstruction).

But Melber nails the larger import of what the students did:

(T)his incident also shows the prospects for what we might call a substantive Macaca Moment – using YouTube and citizen media to scrutinize our leaders on the issues, not gaffes.

Continue reading Using Distributed Media (and People) to Ask Hard Questions

Joining a Larger Journalistic Conversation

ProPublica has launched the citizen-journalism portion of its operation, or at least the first iteration. By posting The Obama Team’s Disclosure Documents and asking readers to help figure out any potential conflicts of interest or other facts that are worth knowing, the site is doing what newspapers could have been doing years ago but haven’t bothered to do. This crowdsourcing follows key early journalistic adopters, notably Josh Marshall and his team at Talking Points Memo.

Amanda Michel is leading ProPublica’s citizen component. This is a great start.