John McCann

Archive for the ‘Listen to the Dawn’ Category

Future of Newspapers: One View

In Blogging, Citizen Journalism, Listen to the Dawn, Newspapers on February 20, 2006 at 8:44 pm

Diane Rehm holds conversations with authors, politicians, industry experts, thought leaders, etc. on her daily radio show from WAMU in Boston. On her January 3, 2006 show, she talked to several people about the future of newspapers. The guests: Michael Massing, Journalist, press critic; John Morton, Newspaper industry consultant; Rem Rieder, Editor, American Journalism Review. It is worth listening to the streaming audio of the show.

At around the 29 minute mark in the show, a caller (who identified himself as the former managing director of the LA Times syndicate in Europe) states that citizen journalists and bloggers are destroying the future of news “papers” and that business models of traditional news gathering organizations will be challenged by a huge number of bloggers using citizen journalists all over the world. He said that the news paper model and the accompanying news gathering model will go away.

The sad thing was the response of John Morton (as I transcribed from the broadcast).

“I envision this bloggers world as sort of analogous to what civilization was like in the Middle Ages when everybody had opinions; we were full of all sorts of witch hunts and mysteries; it was before the Enlightenment. And really, civilization has advanced because of information. I don’t care how many opinions you spread around the world, it’s only going to be news coverage that provides information that makes a difference.”

Morton, who was introduced as a newspaper industry analyst, is clearly out of tune with the new media world. It appears from his response that he is totally unaware of the roles played by citizen journalists and has a view of bloggers that is commonly expressed in newspaper articles. A lot of the traditional media writers have put blogs into two camps: vanity blogs in which people write about their daily lives and opinion blogs in which people express opinions about articles they read in the traditional media.

These two types are, indeed, very common in the blogosphere. But just consider the number of bloggers at work. Dave Sifry reports that “Technorati currently tracks 27.2 million weblogs, and the blogosphere we track continues to double about every 5.5 months.” These 27 million bloggers include people who are generating the news, as well as people writing about that news.

If Morton is representative of that traditional world, the conquest described by the caller to the show will occur with very little opposition. If you do not understand what is happening to your business model, you cannot respond adequately.

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Sun says sun has risen

In Listen to the Dawn, Open source, Uncategorized on February 18, 2006 at 7:50 pm

Scott McNealy says that the sun has risen on the Participation Age.

“Speaking at a San Francisco conference on Wednesday, Sun CEO Scott McNealy described today as the “Participation Age” in technology, saying Sun’s open-source approach fits with that direction.”

His presentation included a slide titled “The Participation Age is another Revolution,” one that joins railways, electricity and telecommunications as revolutions that drove the global economy over the past 150 years.

Each of these four revolutions share four attributes:

  1. Economic growth through new services
  2. Standard that allow competition
  3. Participation of the community
  4. Less barriers, more access

This is clearly true when you restrict your analysis to the software revolution, as McNealy does. But is it true for the larger participation arena in which ordinary people can participate in activities that were previously reserved for experts, anointed professionals and companies who control some aspect of an industry or activity?

The answer appears to be clearly Yes.

  1. New services and applications are coming on line almost daily.
  2. Standards are allowing the cost of almost all digital technologies to follow Moore’s law, which results in near professional-level applications becoming affordable to more and more people.
  3. Blogs, podcasts, vlogs, social networks, etc. are allowing people to join together into loose communities of like-minded individuals who participate in common activities.
  4. The open Internet, digital technologies and deregulation has lowered, or even eliminated, barriers in many fields to the point that almost anyone can have access.

Mommycast

In Listen to the Dawn, Podcasting on February 11, 2006 at 5:56 pm

Heather Green has a podcast interview with the two women who founded and star on Mommycast, a podcast that attracts women with children. Just listen to their story and you can understand the opportunities that are in people’s hands today. It is just amazing to me that these two women and their husbands have been able to attract of a very large audience in a very short time.

And that they have converted the audience into a nice business. An article in the Monterey Herald reports that the show attracts “hundreds of thousands of listeners a month” and has sponsorship by firms such as Dixie paper products.

The show is part of the Podshow network, a new venture that makes it easier for shows like Mommycast to quickly get going and then to attract sponsors. As the two hosts report in Heather Green’s podcast, Mommycast went into the stratosphere when Adam Curry, one of the founders of Podshow, plugged the show on his Daily Source Code podcast.

Hence the Podshow network provides a means for individuals to participate in the podcasting community.

Rocketboom

In Listen to the Dawn, Television on February 10, 2006 at 9:32 pm

Heather Green, a Business Week journalist, interviews bloggers and podcasters about their productions and how they are trying to make money. The interviews are turned into podcasts that are available at businessweek.com. She recently interviewed Andrew Baron, co-founder of the Rocketboom video blog, about his daily 3 minute video show and how he is making money through advertising, eBay auctions and a deal with TiVo.

Partners Baron and Amanda Congdon produce five shows per week and distribute them from a vlogging server. Congdon co-writes the shows and is the on-screen host.

Rocketboom has fulfilled the promises of many people who have been predicting the success of short-form, lower production-value videos that appeal to niche audiences and are delivered over the Internet. The show has an audience of about 130,000 people per episode, which seems to be similar to the audience size of some cable television shows. And according to Baron, advertisers are willing to pay more for an ad on the show than for an ad on traditional television. Listen to the interview to learn why.

A New York Times article reports that Rocketboom is produced in Baron’s one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, cost about $20 per episode and could generate millions of dollar per year in revenue.
I watched a couple of Rocketboom episodes in December 05 and, although I was intrigued by the show and could see why its target audience would like it, I was not sufficiently interested to watch it again. But then I revisited the show last night and watched a dozen or so episodes. I really liked two of them, particularly the skits at the end of the news: December 28, 05 and November 29, 05.

So what we have here is two people coming together to combine their talents to participate in the new media environment in a way that will likely generate considerable wealth for each of them.