John McCann

Kevin Sites’ success

In Content business, Television, Video on April 26, 2006 at 1:33 pm

Clearly, the Internet is the current vehicle that is enabling people to participate via new approaches to content development and distribution. Pete Johnson's recent Media Mix column in USA Today contains two stories that provide some data about how an individual can succeed in such a new venture when done at a professional level with the support of a large organization, in this case Yahoo.

The column's first story is about Kevin Sites, a field reporter who first became famous while reporting from Iraq for NBC. He left that position and signed up with Yahoo to pioneer a new approach.

"Since September, Sites has been a "sojo" — solo journalist — reporting on trouble zones such as Somalia, Colombia, Lebanon and the Sudan for Yahoo.com. His site (hotzone.yahoo.com) now draws more than 2 million hits a week."

We can put this 2 million hits a week into perspective with some data from the column's second story about Tim Russert's success as host of NBC's Meet the Press.

"Sunday, his program was expected to notch its fifth straight year as the most-watched public affairs program on television at 4 million viewers, compared with 3.1 million for CBS' Face The Nation, 2.6 million for ABC's This Week and 1.5 million for Fox News Sunday."

The Participation Age has reached the point where new Internet-based approaches can rival the traditional content on the traditional media. But it is important to note and remember that Sites' success is based upon being part of a large Internet organization. He is not a lone-wolf roaming the world with a camera and a notebook computer. Johnson provides some insight into how he works with Yahoo.

"Now on the road pretty much 24/7, Sites produces a story each day, illustrated with pictures and a short video using equipment that he carries with him. At the end of each week, the video expands into a longer piece with help from three Yahoo colleagues back in Los Angeles. By this fall, Sites hopes to have filed from more than 20 countries. … 'This is online journalism,' Sites says. 'My pieces are vetted. There are other people involved.'"

I find his pieces to be quite professional when I watch them on my computer. And I have read his blog on an irregular basis for the past several years. His work clearly illustrates how a traditional journalist can adapt and succeed in the Participation Age.

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