Friday, July 31, 2009

Truth and Fear

There are a lot of sections of Science of Fear that intersect with True Enough, and when talking of the media and its cumulative effect on society, Gardner and Manjoo are an echo chamber. Gardner is concerned that the way the media often trades in fear directly, or by emphasizing the unusual does so indirectly by hyping unrealistic fears.

A healthy skepticism is being driven into pure cynicism, and "along with truth, cynicism endangers trust."

This reminds me of an earlier post I made regarding teaching the digital natives, as they grew up with all the answers a click away but little context as a result:

"Where a reasonable respect for expertise is lost, people are left to search for scientific understanding on Google and in internet chat rooms, the sneer of the cynic may mutate into unreasoning, paralyzing fear."

The desire to use the Example Rule to prove our existing Confirmation Bias gets amplified in the social media. Gardner continues:

"Our social networks aren't formed randomly, after all. We are more comfortable with people who share our thoughts and values, we spend more time with them at work, make them our friends and marry them . . . . So we form social networks that tend to be more like than unlike, and we trust people in our networks."

Or on our friend lists. Or in our message boards.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Three Rules of the Road

Part three of notes from Daniel Gardner's Science of Fear

Gardner uses three rules to illustrate how fear impacts us, and how they are used to amplify fear.

The Anchoring Rule can be used to skew public opinion in surveys. The questioner can simply use any random question -- a high or low statistic or a dramatic fact or story -- and the carry over impact becomes the anchor. Talk about a high number, surveys will reflect higher guesses from study members. It can also be used to promote consumption. Put a sign on merchandise that says "limit 12 per customer" and more will be sold than if no sign were there.

The Rule of Typical Things is Gut latching on to plausible details in a story, and using them to solve problems.

Finally, The Example Rule is learning from your worst or most recent experiences and interpreting present events. The same hormones that flow during Fight or Flight response tend to amply and intensify memory. The Example Rule is biased based on how memory works.

From Gardner:
"Fear is certainly the most effective way of gluing a memory in place, but there are others. Any emotional content makes a memory stickier."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You'll be Surprised

Since I know a lot of the Arkansas media follow, and have become astute viewers of the Jeff Long web chats we do at, I'll provide this heads-up. Starting with the eighth chat (I think I have the numbers right), Jeff begins taking questions from fans that came in to the Ask the A.D. button on the website. He answered a wide range of questions from when football tickets are going to mail out to why doesn't the university have a hockey rink. It's relaxed, and he was serious about taking fan questions. Kudos to those who sent their questions in.

Gut vs. Head, Science of Fear, Part II

For the majority of the book, Daniel Gardner is comparing two psychological concepts, clinically known by System One and System Two reasoning. It's feeling versus reason, or as Gardner says, Gut versus Head. Instinct or gut reasoning is a legacy of the days of the hunter-gatherer, and not well suited to the modern world. It's the part of our hard wiring that gets us in trouble and is often exploited by marketeers.

Along with Gut v. Head, we get two additional concepts:

Confirmation Bias: "Once a belief is in place, we screen what we see and hear in a biased way that ensures our beliefs are 'proven' correct." Once you set your opinion that a coach won't pass, a player can't hit clutch shots -- see where this is going?

Group Polarization: "When people get together in groups, they become more convinced that their beliefs are right and they become more extreme in their views." Hmm. Is there a part of the social media that fits that definition?

My takeaway reinforces the need to engage social media. If no one is there to represent your point of view, to be the voice of reason among a group, you have left the day to the natural course of Group Polarization. The idea that first impressions really do matter and once set are extremely hard to change means that rapid response into social media situations and quick engagement is the key in trying to disrupt Confirmation Bias.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twitter Quitter

James Spann coined the term for someone who abandoned or avoided the new service as a Twitter Quitter. This week's Chronicle gives us the Queen Quitter in Melissa Hart. Hart gives us a considered dissertation of why Twitter is the Anti-Christ. She has some good points, and I'll recommend folks read them.

With its laughable name that itself suggests foolishness, Twitter has become the butt of media jokes.

Hart goes from there with some nice little peons to long-form journalism. Perhaps quaint.

Let's get over the name. Micro-blogging really doesn't do service to the greatest value of this tool. I'll repeat here -- it's real-time journalism, and it is a specific skill set to separate the citizen observer and snarky haikuist from someone quality reportage. My recent personal example was keeping up with our recent city council goings on.

Did anyone believe USA TODAY's radical format change would last? No. Last time I checked, Al's great experiment has pretty much paid for the high alter of journalism -- the Newseum.

I have plenty of respect for long writing, but I'll argue it is much more difficult to write short and convey the vital information.

Science of Fear. Part I

Lots to learn from Daniel Gardner's book, my number two recommendation of the year behind True Enough. Before you scratch your head and say what does this have to do with A) sports media relations, or B) journalism -- pick up the book and read the first and last chapters. You should be able to steal that much time in the old BN or Borders. After that, you'll buy it.

Gardner distills a lot of behavioral science and psychology for laymen, and introduces some major concepts from the fields that do indeed relate to media.

He starts from the position that mankind is safer than it has been in recorded history from disease, war, famine and tyranny at the start of the 21st century; yet as a whole, the advanced Western societies are more consumed with angst than ever. Cites Ulrich Beck and his term of "risk society," pointing that we're becoming more afraid because the risk actually are growing. This is because "technology outstrips our ability to control it."

No, Gardner's not fearful of SkyNet. He's more worried about what we are doing to ourselves with a "culture of fear" because "Fear sells. Fear makes money."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mayne Street is Back

I was like many fans believing that ESPN had canned the somewhat edgy and irreverent Mayne Street project after last year's 14 episode run. It simply stopped without much explanation, and lots of net traffic about the cancellation.

Pleased to note that while I wasn't paying attention in June, a second season of the skits restarted. They are shorter and less elaborate than the first season in production value and character staff, but the season opener, "Twittered," is another spot-on sports social commentary. Not quite as good as season one's sixth episode about bloggers, "Hotel", but pretty good.

This kind of "digital original" as ESPN calls it is a perfect example of how groups can build followings.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy 600th

OK, its 601, but I didn't want to spoil my burst of Cronkite energy.

Lot of people ask why do you still use Blogger? Why don't you have widgets? And multi-media?

Um, I'm lazy?

Look, I do that stuff all day. I'm not looking for another place to show off my programing or design skills, a chance to do some edgy new media apps. If you came here looking for my Flash ability or podcasts -- head back over into the commodity world at, etc.

This is a notepad. I'm just putting down what comes into my head that I have the presumption to think colleagues in the business of sports media relations or journalism might be interested in. Facebook's to visual; Twitter's too short. So I'm still here most days of the week.

In this space, it's still about writing. Once upon a time, I had a "daily" column (every time the paper came out -- which was twice a week by the time I left) and I don't mind saying I was good enough at it to win the state columnist of the year award AND have my job threatened by the local high school journalism teacher when I dared write about students at her school spitting on the fans of their hated cross-river rivals.

One of these days, I'll have to recount those days. Ah yes, the morning the local Coca-Cola distributor forced us to take a Coke versus New Coke taste test, and even after I proved you could tell the difference, the publisher writing a counter editorial on the front page. Good times.

Cronkite, Part Two

An addendum this morning to my Cronkite Reflection after opening the local newspaper. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Paul Greenburg adds his postmortem (sorry, paid link), a decidedly different take in which Cronkite's Report from Vietnam is the highest symptom of the "tri-opoly" of media held by ABC, NBC and CBS. Greenburg views Cronkite as a high priest of the message control of the heyday of the mass media, going so far as to declare it the Age of Cronkite. Hmm -- I just might have to steal that one for presentations, little broader than Watergate Era Journalism.

Greenburg pairs Cronkite's position as the arbiter of truth with the Fairness Doctrine. Yes, that scared a ton of local broadcasters into not covering local issues, but I don't know that it really slowed the nationals that much -- or the omnipotent locals. Growing up in Monroe, La., "Governor" Jimmy Noe was never worried when he'd get on the air for editorials, or his anchors, at KNOE-TV. I put his title in quotes because he had been appointed to serve as Louisiana governor for five months after O.K. Allen died.

Here's where I differ with Greenburg. The Fairness Doctrine's day is done, ended by a combination of technology and awareness. The public accepted the idea of federal management and control of the airwaves because it was a check on powerful, wealthy individuals like Noe and corporations like CBS. A legacy of the Progressive Movement of the turn of the century which empowered the federal government to regulate in the name of the people. These were homogenized times, and unless you were an iconoclast like Greenburg in his prime at the Pine Bluff newspaper, all media tended to hew the Fairness line.

Fairness Doctrine held the almighty FCC license in the balance. Violate it and a broadcaster -- with substantial investment and debt -- loses everything. His station becomes a pennies on the dollar bankruptcy. Not the case today, in fact, quite the opposite. A return to anything like the Fairness Doctrine would be the final blow to broadcast media. For exactly the same reason: it would make something worthless; however, this time it is the FCC license.

Howard Stern proved the point. Harassed and limited by the FCC's regulations on decency, Stern bolted once technology provided him an alternative, satellite radio.

The public understands on a basic level what the networked media means to this equation. The average consumer knows that you do not need a printing press or FCC license to voice your opinion, report your news, become your media. Never before in the history of mankind has the barrier to mass communication been lower.

So not only will Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow not accept their disappearance through the banality of Fairness, neither will the voters. Politicians who do not understand this are no smarter than the newspaper executives who continue to believe that they can just tweak the business plan by directly repurposing their content on-line or broadcast corporations who think spreading a single music format across a network of terrestrial stations like some kind of metasticizing cancer will save radio.

The senators who think they can reinstitute a 21st century version of Fairness understand the media about as well as Al Gore when he claimed to invent the internet. Unfortunately for Al, the point of what the military started was an indestructable way to share information among key points without a central control point. A way to continue after apocolypse.

The goverment may have started it, but by no means does any government own the internet that it could create a choke hold combination that the Fairness Doctrine and the FCC license were in the Age of Cronkite. Yes, federal fiber and switches are part of the system, but far, far too much is in private hands. And as long as those private providers don't make a stupid move like metering the access -- which would give Net Neutrality a whole new life and the feds an entry point to regulation -- they are free and clear.

Thus the best way for Congress or the administration to bring broadcast media to an end would be to further limit its ability to compete in the marketplace. Nothing is killing the old tri-opoly more than the inability to be as edgy as cable -- both in content and commentary. Reinstate Fairness and much of AM radio and non-commercial FM falls silent as the religious and opinion broadcasters go streaming. Big boon for Steve Jobs. Government assisted suicide for legacy media corporations.

So indeed, the Age of Cronkite is dead. The revolution won't be on TV. The revolution will be Twittered. Viva la revolucion.

Cronkite Reflection

One of my prize possessions is an autographed picture of Walter Cronkite with his B-17 crew about the head off on a flight over Europe. I TwitPic'd it and put on my Facebook the day he passed. I've always wanted to know the whole story of "U.S.O." and the crew. I once wrote to Cronkite, who's personal assistant wrote back he remembered the picture but not a lot of details of that day.

I bought the picture at the Sigma Delta Chi/Society of Professional Journalists national student convention back in 1983. National Press Club held the auction and had collected some really nice signed items -- this photo donated from the Kansas City Press Club along with three others. Being the WWII historian, I leaned in hard on this one, and came home with it. It's been either on my business office or home office wall since.

Of course, Cronkite's record and later political statements have become big fodder in the media. The reeking amount of presentism in these reports aside -- you can't judge his work in the 1960s based on political positions of 2000 -- I'm taken by the lack of context given to one of his most significant moments.

This audio clip by Cronkite about Vietnam has received a lot of traffic the past week:

But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

I've heard that picked on for being pompus (clear to this reporter) and that he was a news anchor that should not be putting his opinions into the newscast.

Cronkite's quote was as reporter; not as anchor. He had just returned to the anchor desk after traveling to Vietnam to survey the aftermath of Tet. What he saw turned him from on-air neutral to advocate, not unlike the events of McCarthy's excess had done to his CBS predecessor, Edward R. Morrow.

Back to Tet. What motivated Cronkite's sudden turn, in part, were the public relations campaigns waged by the Army, particularly by William Westmoreland, in 1967 and 1968 leading up to Tet. The general and members of this staff had told the American public -- at media oriented venues like the National Press Club -- that the war was almost over, that the NVA and the Viet Cong had been so weakened by the buildup and military pressure of the U.S. One of the most unfortunate statements was the enemy was so weakened it could never mount a major offensive again.

The general public wasn't tracking those position statements, but the media was. The very fact Tet occurred was enough to set the Cronkite statement in motion. That Tet caused the level of damage, and was nationwide in Vietnam -- virtually every city and major town was hit by what we would call "terrorist" attacks. This is the atmosphere that Cronkite then travels to Vietnam, and surveys the situation himself. The two week tour during the continuing battle at Hue led to his special broadcast "Report from Vietnam."

The quote that Westmoreland and others used to attack Cronkite and the media for betraying the American military did not occur as a part of the CBS Evening News. It was from the end of "Report from Vietnam" and was labeled as an "editorial report." I won't copy it here (it's easily found on-line). One cannot say it was out of context, because it was clearly Cronkite's point, but there is a lot more in there than the "stab in the back" it is often portrayed to be toward the military.

Because Cronkite headed CBS News when Mike Wallace went after Westmoreland in 1972 and ended up getting sued for liable, I have the feeling a lot of that animus is pointed incorrectly on the 1968 Tet remarks. But that's another story for another day.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

And You're Surprised How?

Got some wall notes and read some on-line news regarding the harvesting of your photos for Facebook wall ads to friends. Checking, it seems the default is "no use", but it was worth a quick check.

I'll say it again -- post only what you want everyone to know about you, even in "privacy" areas. You gave away your copyright in exchange for the software and system usage on Facebook, or any other system.

If you work from the assumption that everything you post could be on the front page of the New York Times AND added to your personal dossier at some cube-shaped, three or four letter acronym building just outside the Washington DC beltway, you don't have to spend a lot of time worrying about privacy.

Don't call me paranoid -- you don't have any absolute privacy once you join the digital network. Period.

PR as Investigator?

Tim Cavanaugh's essay in the June 2009 issue of Reason, Hired News, makes the point that as the money goes away from legacy media, the investigative journalists don't simply disappear, they find new employment with advocacy groups.

He points out some U.S. labor stats that PR jobs just a bit more than doubled (98K to 226K) in the last decade, but reporters stayed almost flat (52.4K to 51.6K in 2007). So the talent is there, and he adds the anecdotal of working at a PR job with a former Pulitzer winner.

Cavanaugh adds a quote from a colleague that the "era of high-minded journalism lasted roughly from the '60s to the mid-80s . . . for most of its history journalism as a pretty low-minded occupation." I can't go that far, but in its own way it supports my contention that the Objective Reporter era centered around the Watergate legend is fading fast.

What I find most intriguing in the piece is the acceptance of Advocacy Journalism as a good thing. Here's the payoff:

"Flackery requires putting together credible narratives from pools of verifiable data. This activity is not categorically diffferent from journalism."

Cavanaugh counters the standard end of democracy argument with this bon mot:

"The most valuable information comes out just because somebody wants to make somebody else look bad."

I'd be remiss to not note this irony -- at least today when I'm buidling this entry, the IDB story ad next to Cavenaugh's story on Reason's website is for PR Web "Distribute your news to consumers, journalists and bloggers."

Friday, July 24, 2009

More Relativity in Reality

Picked off a newspaper column, a reference to the work of Charles P. Pierce, and his Three Great Premises. This is taken from his book Idiot America, which appears more political than topical. His first two big ideas aren't very impressive. First is a poor-man's True Enough take that if an idea "sells" it becomes valid in the TV culture. The second is just a restate of the Hitler-like if you tell a big lie and say it loud and proud it gets by.

It is the third point that I find far more interesting and dangerous: A fact is that which enough people believe. The truth is measured by how fervently they believe it.

Majority of people become convinced that their version of an event was how it happened, it becomes a fact. Others will see their point of view and create their fact. Ah yes, the Manjoo universe of competing realities. Facts gain truth, in Pierce's estimation, by how hard they are promoted, backed and spread -- the fever of the fact believers.

Try that one out the next time you come across some controversy. You might get some interesting second thoughts.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hessert Notes, Part Two

Kathleen Hessert's second day was more about social media, and pitched to coaches and staff than the media training with athletes on day one. Again, a day of validation for past thoughts in this blog.

Fans trust each other more than they trust marketers -- This is almost social media marketing gospel now, but the Hessert turn her was brilliant:

"You can say what you want your brand to be, but the key is what they [fans, customers, public] say you are."

Brings in the digital native/digital immigrant argument, and uses her 85-year-old dad as the perfect example of how digital isn't always about age -- it's about mindset.

I was a little flummoxed by the following paradox as she pointed out the newspaper average demo as 50-year-old that reads only 1.5 stories (making the argument you have a very small chance of hitting a shrinking group), but that the largest growing demo on Facebooks is 50-plus.

On engaging in the "attention economy", if a brand is not part of the conversations going on among the social media, that conversation will simply go on without you. You miss the chance to influence.

The Age of Now was another quick drop-in phrase.

Long Promised Hessert Notes

An opening disclaimer: I've been a follower of Kathleen Hessert's sports PR work for years. Roughly since she shook up the CoSIDA convention back in St. Louis, gosh, 1999?, I've wanted to see her come to campus to work with our athletes. I claim no input on that -- Jeff Long knew of her as well and scheduled her in.

First and foremost, anyone who TwitPic's her own presentation to athletes clearly has a tight grasp on the power of immediate social media. And by the time she left Fayetteville, she probably picked up 40 or 50 local followers for her Twitter feed. Smart move.

A lot of the media training for the student-athletes echoed past things I've done with the old department's training; plenty of stuff you'd read here back in the 2005 and 2006 posts -- plus the freshman media session many of the readers have received copies of in the past.

Couple of her numbers that should catch attention:
Quick to call out the top bloggers -- Deadspin at 450K in uniques would rank among the top newspaper circulations in the country; that Every Day Should Be Saturday should be everyone in college football's must read because it's the No. 1 football. (I point EDSBS out because of the "shock and awe" that ensued when I built a blogger panel at convention around its founder -- good to get some validation).
Noted that advertisers were now willing to offer to pay for Tweets -- when you think about it, not terribly different from old style "readers" done by Paul Harvey or Jack Buck. Everything old is becoming new again. One major feed offered $30k for a single product Tweet.

Topically, some things that would help anyone:
--Think of three words or phrases that define you, and then spend your time getting that message across.
--Balance is important to the brand and image
--In a crisis, better to get it out and get it over with -- I love this visual to "go for the fast hemmorage rather than the slow drip"
--Harder questions come when the media thinks you're lying, and they probably think your lying and ask hard questions because they know something you don't want them to know.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This is Summer?

Usually, there's some time for a vacation or slack, but this has been like traffic controller at O'Hare week.

At least it's been a nice cool week for weather. I'm thankful for that.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Finding the Outer Limits

Seems like those internets always work in waves. A month ago, it was faux tornado warnings. Now it's a rash of social media missteps, particularly in the media community, that's leading to a rush to create guidelines for employees on-line.

One of the starting points was an Associated Press reporter being called out for trashing a particular newspaper chain's financial decisions. Wired has great reporting on this. The result is AP putting out its own policies, which generated considerable commentary. You can see the policy in PDF here off Wired.

The follow-on has been social media guidelines at the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and other notable legacy institutions.

Commentary between the network media and the legacy has been, well, predictable. The youngsters saying you can't trust anyone over 30 and the old folks telling them to turn down that damn music. I'm particularly fond of this blend quote from a member of the TIME staff picked up by blogger Ann All, opining on the disconnect:

Most of this boils down to the classic old-media problem with new media: fear of the loss of control. . . . Transparency is one of the great benefits of the Web, not a danger. The audience for media outlets wants to know—and deserves to know—how decisions are made, what goes into producing a story, how the process of knowledge-gathering and idea-making is constant and flawed. Hiding that process isn't about serving anyone but ourselves—really, covering our asses. And that only hurts us; journalists are better off showing that they're human, that they make mistakes and that they (hopefully) learn from them.

In the corporate world, Intel and IBM are getting a lot of praise on how to strike the balance. Their guidelines serve as solid legal reminders that employees have certain responsibilities -- you can't break laws, embarrass the company or give out proprietary information -- but also encourage their folks to join the conversation.

In the blogosphere, Ann All has great columns (see her links above), but also at ZDNet and Editor and Publisher. The E&P gives plenty of anectdotes from various newspapers that have faced this problem during the late spring and early summer.

That's Why I Love Fayetteville

Where else do you get this in July:

0912 AM CDT SAT JUL 18 2009



Friday, July 17, 2009

Hessert Notes on Catchup Saturday

This week has been a hot mess, to reach back for some dated reality show jargon, and yes, Kathleen Hessert was a fantastic two days worth of media training and "new" media discussions. Notes and thoughts tomorrow, I promise.

I Hate Endings

First and foremost -- nobody get weirded out or read something into this post.

I'm doing some reading in a couple of books earlier this week and it just tripped a switch. I've never liked ending projects, even though I'm very good with deadlines and enjoy working with deadlines. Always thought there was something sad about finishing things.

So it hits me, gee, recon that's cause you grew up in hospitals shuttling around your father's array of illness? You know, maybe. At an early age, you got good with the thought of "endings," and got attracted over time to things that are perpetual -- like newspapers, then higher ed. I've never really like summer, cause that was the "dead" part of the academic year (aside from hot and humid -- no fan of either).

Probably why I feel quite comfortable with the never-ending networked media. There's always something new around the corner, something different to do; and that feeds the lack of closure.

Profound, no?

Repeat disclaimer -- doesn't mean I'm dying, leaving, etc. Just an interesting correlation between closure aversion and network media. I wonder if others feel the same way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Outstanding Advice

I wish I had found this quote years ago when I was more directly involved in media training for coaches and student-athletes:

There aren't any embarrassing questions - just embarrassing answers.

Carl T Rowan Jr, US Ambassador to Finland, On press conferences, 1963

My kudos to The Universal Journalist for that tasty quote.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thus Tweet Zarathustra

William Randoph Hearst quote of the day:

The modern editor of a newspaper does not care for facts. The editor wants novelty. The editor has no objection to facts, if they are also novel. But he would prefer a novelty that is not a fact to a fact that is not a novelty.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Other Wire Service

As a one-time "employee" -- if stringer can get you that -- of United Press International back in my newspaper days, I was intrigued to learn through Craig Silverman's Regret the Error website that what goes for the alternative to Associated Press has put its stylebook on-line for the public.

Silverman, as you'd expect, is focused on what Reuters has to say in its Handbook of Journalism about accuracy, error correcting and validation. He hits some very strong points in the Handbook, and I'd highly recommend you taking a moment to jump over and read his linked blog entry.

In light of a growing number of weather hoaxes -- both here and across the country -- I was drawn to the Reuters' hints on dealing with internet sources. These would be words that every consumer of networked news -- both "professional" and citizen/participatory -- should have Post-It noted to their computer screen:

Do a reality check. Does this information fit within the bounds of what was expected? Any wild divergences are a clue you may be viewing information in the wrong context.

And this one, which Silverman also highlighted:

We have no greater protection if we pick up a hoax from a newspaper, a broadcaster or any other third party news organisation. The damage to our reputation from running a hoax is the same and in many jurisdictions we are just as liable under the law.


Now there are some great tips for writing within the Handbook, one in particular that would be helpful for those of us attempting to create those ever-so-pithy Tweets. Quoting:

The 10 key words approach

Try making a list of 10 key words without which you simply could not write the story. They don’t have to be the exact words you will use in the story. Think more of the facts or concepts which must be there. So a story about oil prices would definitely have the key words oil and prices, but they might be expressed in the story as crude and dollars per barrel. Once you have that list of keywords you have the essence of the story. Most or all should appear in the first sentence. All should appear by the end of the second paragraph. [My emphasis]

And who says you can't say anything important in 140 words?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nice Looks at Coach Tweeting

Many probably saw this first time through, but while doing some prep work, I came across this Andy Staples on-line column at SI. He makes several solid points. One funny one about how positive thinker coaches just believe you can wish the bad news away with enough positive Tweets. The other was something that I guess I had considered, but not really seen expressed this clearly:

Finally, someone needs to fill in coaches on the concept of intellectual property. The Stewart tweet quoted above is part of a series he calls "Mountaineers Rules for Living." These rules, usually erroneously credited to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, were written by conservative pundit Charles J. Sykes. Sykes does not receive credit on Stewart's page.

We all know that coaches like to have "quotes of the day" on white boards and similar guidelines for teams in their squad handbooks. It's one thing to lift information privately for motivation; quite another to do so publicly without attribution.

I think when our student-athletes do it, they call it plagiarism.

Dan Levy over at pumped out a more recent look at the Twitterverse, and finds it wanting for the most part. He does remind us of a growing problem, noting Pete Carroll of USC:

But fans follow coaches just in case they break some actual news, like Carroll did when announcing the hiring of a new basketball coach at his school before the actual school did.

Reminds me of the guidelines I put into place back in 2000 regarding the proprietary information of the department -- the stuff that once was called "Transactions" in old AP-speak -- could not be released on personal websites. Ah, remember those bad old days when you needed a kid with some programming skill to tell the world she was "retiring," or to let all his friends and followers know he was done with school and headed to the NBA.

Just a Facebook entry away these days.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Writer's Almanac

A good long drive will force you deep into your podcast collection, and it has been some time since I've listened to Garrison Keillor's daily affirmation for writers and aspiring poets. Gems from his last week's entries -- an ode to Kafka and the opening lines of his two great works, a quotation on reality from Hesse and a homage to Strunk and White.

Many days of the week, I am no fan of the way Strunk and White have beat the life out of prose, but two reminders that their little seminal collaboration remains useful (when taken in moderation or under strict doctor's orders):

Write in the active tense
Use no more words than necessary

Two S&W guidelines far more SIDs and journalists need to follow.

Keillor's daily podcast is brief, and found either through Minnesota Public Radio or more simply at iTunes. Always ends with a poem, and since Keillor has used my favorite American poet laurete, Billy Collins, frequently, it's always a pleasure.

Three Dimensions of Journalism

Not exactly Steven Hawking three-fold convergence of the universe, but past couple of days have prompted some additional thinking about terminology for what we do on a daily basis.

Riding home from a road trip, I was able to keep in touch with a key city of Fayetteville council meeting through the live tweets by Fayetteville Flyer, and, interestingly, the City of Fayetteville, itself. There was no other media participation through Twitter feeds -- unless they have some new ones I'm not subscribed to -- and that in and of itself is interesting.

By this morning's papers, I didn't get a lot of recap that was different from what I learned both from a networked media reporter and the official source.

How do we decide what was what here? I propose using the term real-time journalism for the live blogging or Tweeting from news events. It is raw, play-by-play in the sports world. I get the sense this is a new thing to many media members, novel. Not so much to those of us living sports on a daily basis. The recap or analysis that could have been in today's paper wasn't terribly deeper than what I had already read.

So, two of our three dimensions based on this event -- the real-time journalism and the review or recap. What I'm sure I'll see soon is the opinion or commentary phase -- three time-based type of views of the same event.

And I realize, real-time isn't that novel a label, but it better reflects what is going on for the journalist. Streaming live audio or video, some pure data stream (difficult in the news world, but C-SPAN tallies of Congressional votes is about as close to the live stats we have in sports) that lacks commentary or injects is not necessarily RTJ (see, it even makes for a trendy acronym).

Here's the way I got to see it. Obviously, it runs in reverse time order, and my apologies for the shamless cut and paste from their feeds to AccessFay (the city feed) and Fayetteville Flyer (FvillFlyer):

accessfayThe City Council has decided to leave it on the 2nd reading, and the item will be on the 3rd and final reading at the next City Council mtg.
fvilleflyerSale Barn issue tabled for two more weeks. #faycouncil
accessfayThe City Attorney advised comments about buffer zones, are not offered in a bill of assurance, also CC shouldn't consider who owns property
accessfayThe Council is discussing the rezoning. They have spoken about compatibility, buffer zones, traffic concerns, impact on existing neighbors
fvilleflyerAlderman Petty is defending students. Says Mr. Buckner's comments are offensive. Lady in crowd is vocally upset w/ Petty. #faycouncil

danasargentWatching the Fayetteville CIty Council meeting. (Channel 16 in Fayetteville) #faycouncil
(This is a notable Tweet, the only one from a legacy media person during the entire string -- What I'm editing out are dozens of reposts of scrips that are "website stories" from the local television stations across the region)

fvilleflyerCouncil member Gray is in favor of rezoning. Crowd is very uneasy. Lots of angry glances. #faycouncil
fvilleflyerCampus Crest offers to build 25ft buffer w/ trees between apts and road in front of cemetery. Says willing to work w/ neighbors. #faycouncil
accessfayThe applicant is reviewing their rationale for DG zoning. (Less intensive uses, offer buffer zone, other property is available for cemetary
fvilleflyerCampus Crest making presentation in favor of rezoning sale barn property. Making case that rezoning fits with 2025 master plan. #faycouncil
fvilleflyerWoman has been speaking so long that Mayor Jordan asked her to sit down. She talked another minute or so. #faycouncil
accessfayThe lawyer for the applicant, stated "owner has rights, & they should be considered & he should not have to wait 2 yrs to have it purchased
fvilleflyerLawyer says ,"It would certainly be a hardship" on the owner if barn rezoning is denied. "Yeah right," says woman in crowd. Wow. #faycouncil
accessfayThe property owners believe that they should have the opportunity to sell their land. No one from the Cemetary made an offer to purchase.
accessfayThe majority of the individuals in the audience are speaking against the rezoning. Most veterans want to see this as cemetary expansion.
accessfayThe City Council is hearing testimony on the rezoning of the old Sale Barn property. The request is from I-1 to Downtown General
fvilleflyerSome guy: "Who the hell wants to build a house near a cemetery?!" #faycouncil
fvilleflyerJim Buckner: "The worst possible neighbor to a national cemetery would be university students."
fvilleflyerSue Madison says City has been accomodating enough to the Sale Barn owners over the years. #faycouncil
fvilleflyerMany citizens speaking in opposition to rezoning of Sale Barn property including Sue Madison. #faycouncil
fvilleflyerSue Madison is in the house and being interviewed by Alex Flippin. #faycouncil
fvilleflyerCity Hall is nearly full already. Expecting fireworks tonight.

I'm particularly fond of the "straight" news approach of the facts as they happen to mark progress from the city, and the inject of commentary from the Flyer.

To be fair, there was some other news in this stream -- I did cut out the live blogging by the Northwest Arkansas Naturals that happened in this set of posts.

What else spaced out the Tweets? 12 consecutive Tweets with links to the website of one TV station's 6 p.m. cast, 6 straight Tweets that were links to another station's 6-cast, another dozen Tweets to the website from the four other TV stations in-state that a follow. Some Breaking News and Drudge headlines. Four personality tweets from a news anchor and three from a sports editor.

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Different News Reality

Sarah Palin provides the latest episode of social news versus legacy news with the continuing coverage of her resignation. USA TODAY carries a story detailing the perplexed politicians and pundits. It serves as little more than a vehicle for the public statements of a cadre of public figures.

Taken at face value, nobody knows what the soon-to-be former governor is going to do or why she did what she did.

Unless you notice a couple of paragraphs in the middle. USA TODAY obliquely refers to Palin's Facebook page, pulling out a brief quip, then to Palin's Twitter page and some damage control work regarding accusations of a FBI investigation.

Suddenly, the six paragraphs in front and the six paragraphs behind are nothing more than two giant buns around the meat of the story. If anyone read past the rambling opening, they were off to the social media.

You betcha.

The story's not that different from the death of Steve McNair or the continued detailing of Mark Sanford's "hiking". There is the reality based on the 20th century model of objective journalism playing out in print and on screen. Then there's the fully digital story existing in the partisan world of 21st century social media.

The disturbing part is the way the versions of what happened diverge. There is a news for everyone.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Another Must Follow Source

The Nielsen folks didn't get to be who they are and stay who they are by missing trends. Too keep up with the what's hot from their numbers, bookmark the Nielsen blog. Many of the numbers used in my Just a Fad post came from an assortment of their entries.

I'm also intrigued by Instapaper and the iPhone app. Can't get the "Read Later" button to work at all in Mobile Safari, and the sync over technique failed as well. However, on Firefox and Safari, it works magnificently in capturing whole long webpages into single, text friendly, iPhone reader friendly caches to read when I have time. Great way to store up stories for flights or long drives.

Posts Too Long

Consider this my lone concession to the theory folks who say no one reads long prose anymore.

I will make this note short, and punchy.
Perhaps with sentence fragments
Short bullet points
Reader can skim

Then again, maybe not

Just a Fad?

Hear it all the time -- from colleagues near and far -- that Twitter thing won't last. Can't monitize it, therefore, it's not worth the effort.

Hmm. Sounds like another on-line company, privately held, flash in the pan. Yeah, that Facebook thing, that'll never catch on.

I will grant this -- Twitter may fly away under the Fail Whale, and the nay-sayers are absolutely waiting for things like this week's Nielsen notes that for the first time in a year, Twitter adoption was flat.

Look at the numbers in the numbers: top usage group for Twitter in February numbers, 35-49. And not close, 41.9% in that demo; next is the 25-34 at 19.1%. I'm no math major, but that's double the nearest demo. Kids? Not so much a factor.

Mobile adults. Those reaching the prime spending (and giving) age. Looking to keep up with a mobile world. Yes, that's the other key demo.

Twitter quitters remain an important factor, and feed the this won't last mindset. The drops of April and May appear to be coming back, either with new members or renewals. Either way, the content continues to improve, and that's likely a major factor in the last spike.

There is the small matter of Twitter's growth -- 1,448% from May to May -- and that's very significant, dare I say Facebook-like expansion. In this relm, 18.2 million registered really isn't that big (remember FB and MySpace continue in the triple digits).

Here's the bigger number: time spent on Twitter has grown 177% from year to year, from only a little more than six minutes last year to over 17 minutes this year. Why? More content to read. At 140 characters (if that many) per post. Diversity is what I believe drives the growth. Only so much to read when its two or three feeds; now with BreakingNews plus the usual media suspects, Twitter becomes that easy one-stop portal for information. A mobile fulfillment of that oh-so-1990s dream of the "customized front page" that those internets would bring.

This is where I see the power of the medium, not necessarily the application. It's still kludgy, and lacking the finished nature of an iTunes interface. Reminds me of the big old white Motorola cell phone I once packed back in the big hair days. Functional, but not mass market.

The name may change, but this "fad" is not leaving anytime soon.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Working Through Science of Fear

Another very interesting book which borrows some of its psychological and behavioral theory from the same sources as Farhad Manjoo's True Enough. Some echos of Regret the Error in places, and statistical debunking monographs.

There are some fascinating angles to the evolution of networked media.

As I mentioned earlier, very, very busy this week -- and into the weekend -- to clear out some projects and make time for a quick road trip before buckling down to some major in-house projects.

Busy Week, Big Changes Ahead

Just back from the SEC TV and Digital meeting. Not enough time to fully digest and relay, but one very important highlight for our RazorVision members and distant fans:

Get signed up, get ready -- there is more streaming headed your way than every before.

No, that doesn't include live football. It does include football replays earlier than 8 a.m. the next morning, however.

Now remember, ESPN is producing everything for football this year, a ton more for men's basketball, and as I understand it, that will all be available via ESPN360. Combine that with RazorVision, and our CyberHogs are going to get all they want.