About a month ago, I connected Katie Couric and Brian Solis for a conversation about Katie’s push into new media which started in 2008. What ensued was a discussion about the challenges, the opportunities and the areas of exploration they both think about when it comes to the convergence of “new” and “old” media. What I like to call – present media.
My version of family dinner happens anytime after 9pm – on a weeknight, with food or without food, at my quiet NYC apartment. Sitting in front of my roommate’s flat screen TV. Matching silver laptops in front of us and on the coffee table – a pair of iPhones. Eyes dodging back-and-forth between browsers and broadcast. Browser and broadcast. Browser and phone.
Tonight I decided to type BrianSolis.com into my browser. I guess I wanted to know what was happening in his world. I like Brian because he is smart and savvy and really dedicated to sharing new ideas and information. I would say that’s why Brian is one of my digital educators. A person who bends my mind to think about what changes in technology mean to our society, our lives, our industries. And tonight I got just that when I read this line.
“In this episode (of BrianSolis TV), Michael Fertik, founder and CEO of Reputation Defender, joins the program to discuss privacy and the reasons why you and everyone who matters to you, will be unfairly, but forever judged by what’s online.”
The statement, in that very instant, made me think about and question to what extent people might unfairly judge me.
I was completely intrigued when I stumbled upon this new weekly staple of the Obama Administration – “West Wing Week” – a six minute video, packed to the max with b-roll, substance and soundbites of how the President spent the last week. I have yet to see anything as pithy and tightly produced by the news outlets in the Press Corps targeted at to the 18-35 year old demographic – a demo growing in influence and worth an estimated $200 billion in consumer spending. Or, for the political world, a demo with the power to deliver enough votes to say, swing a reelection campaign. Smart man our President is.
The video only shows about 2,685 views on YouTube. (The White House does not release traffic data for WhiteHouse.gov.)
Today I applied for a job as a Mobile Producer at Allbritton Communications – the parent company of Politico that is about to launch a new news organization, one that will serve the Washington, D.C. metro area and work to shape the “future of local news.”
Not long after I applied, I received a note back from Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement at Allbritton. He wanted to know – what are my thoughts for the job description, his or her duties and the process of the producer? Luckily I think I have this one down – and I’m so glad he asked.
Job Description: Mobile Producer
• Must have ability to produce multi-platform stories
• Must be technology agnostic
• Must demonstrate editorial judgment
• Must have story instinct
The Mobile producer must demonstrate the ability to combine traditional values of journalism (integrity, fairness, balance, pursuit of truth and focus on the facts) with the social media code of conduct – transparency, collaboration, crowd sourcing and audience interaction, among others.
The Mobile producer must be in tune with the rapid changes in the media and adapt, every day, testing new newsgathering, production and story telling techniques. He or she must be able to (1) develop original content (2) aggregate that content and (3) provide deeper context to select stories in the format of research-based blog posts, long form videos, interviews, etc.
The Mobile producer must be aware that distribution of the story is just as important as the newsgathering process. Working with the social media producer and strategists, the Mobile producer will assist in listening to the target audience, seeding the stories in communities and be nimble enough to identify and react to the best distribution techniques. The Mobile producer must take seriously the responsibility of being an intelligent filter and creator of news to the residents of metro D.C.
The Mobile producer is fearless. He or she must always have gear in pockets and be ready to catch or chase a story.
The Mobile producer must care about providing information to the residents in the Washington, D.C. metro area, a city that is unique in that it has no vote in Congress, experiences high crime, low high school graduation rates, and is seat to the most powerful government in the world.
The Mobile producer, in an ideal world, is Erica Anderson!
What else should I add? Do you think I have what it takes?
2008 was a year for Democrats. Led by President Obama, Obama for America utilized social networks, text messages and online organization to get a record number of people out to vote. But today, it looks like the Republicans are about the pull out the social media win. The real question is: will the Senate seat come with it too? Contestants in today’s special election race for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat, Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley, are about to find out.
CNN’s Audience Interaction Producer, Eric Kuhn, wrote a post Monday morning “GOP Candidate Dominates Social Networking in Massachusetts,” and pulled numbers of Brown’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to make the GOP case. Kuhn was right, and today Brown’s numbers continued to grow. (Below are the most up to-date stats).
At this moment, more than 110,078 people on Facebook have taken sides and more than 15,338 people on Twitter are tuned in. Brown leads Facebook with 92,964 fans compared to Coakley’s 17,114. He also has a clear lead on Twitter with over 7,000 more followers and listed nearly 600 times. Brown’s approach to social media is also more effective, especially in his use of Facebook. His campaign staff uses the page to funnels news, information, and behind-the-scenes campaign photos. Coakley’s Facebook Page reads more like a resume.
I left a comparison of YouTube out, but I should make one quick point. Brown is burying Coakley. Search for “Martha Coakley,” and you are likely to find, top fold, clips that Brown’s campaign have uploaded about her. Fatal flaw for Coakley’s campaign – to not play offense on one of the most searched web sites in the world.
The gamble is just as dire for the Democrats, who have 60 votes and health care reform at stake with today’s election.
Side-By-Side (As of 2:10AM Tuesday)
Scott Brown (Republican)
Facebook: 92,964 Fans
Twitter: 11,472 Followers
Martha Coakley (Democrat)
Facebook: 17,114 Fans
Twitter: 3,866 Followers
ActBlue (Fundraising): Raised $1,276,289 from 14,668 supporters
Two things. First, I am reading a book. For those political media junkies, it’s “The Boys on the Bus,” by Rolling Stone journalist, Timothy Crouse. Crouse, at the time, who was barely old enough to drink, got the assignment of a lifetime to cover the 1972 Nixon | McGovern campaign.
As I look at the shape of our news media – the ecosystem if you will – I always consider lessons of the past to find a new way forward. And what Crouse writes in Boys, gives us a glance into the relationship between journalists, the news agenda, and the White House.
Second, Helen Thomas makes several cameos in the book as the UPI correspondent along for the ride. My favorite line so far is when she lost her restraint and said to Ron Ziegler, Nixon’s Press Secretary: “Lies. We get nothing but lies. And someday those lies are going to catch up with this Administration.”
Ziegler responds back with a jab. She gives him a “hard look.”
“I’ll say one thing for you, Ron. You’re never lied to us directly. But I don’t know how you stomach your job.”
So why do I bring this up? Well, like I said, the keys to the future are in treasures of the past. And two of those treasures – Boys on the Bus, and Helen Thomas, are telling us where to go from here.
Deviating from the Script to Understand Motives
On January 9, Salon.com writer, Glenn Greenwald, wrote a post about last week’s White House Briefing, where Robert Gibbs, Janet Napolitano and John Brennan addressed the White House Press Corps, about the Flight 253 bombing attempt. In his post, Greenwald focused on the question from Helen Thomas, who once again, parted from the restraint her colleagues share… and said point blank to John Brennan, “What is the motivation of the terrorists – where does it come from?”
In other words, how do American policies fuel terrorism?
Right away I went back to my video archives and pulled out an interview I did with Helen Thomas in July 2009. I had wanted to do something with it earlier – but the timing wasn’t right – and as you will see, the quality – of the video, unfortunately blew. (My fault for needing to use my back up Flip Cam). But regardless, I think this is an important interview – one that will help folks like Glenn Greenwald consider what it means when a Press Corps is intimidated, what questions don’t get asked, what questions get shut down- and what we can all do to get the process back up to the standard.
Yesterday one of my friends sent me a link from Google Reader. The story: “Help NPR Plan Our Social Media Activities for the Inauguration.” Read on to find out how you can help – or just be part of a colosso, Y2-Obama-K, power failure that will trash DC’s cell phone towers on Inauguration weekend.
Now, NPR – and Andy Carvin, Senior Product Manager in the Digital Media department, are on to something different. To add on to what they did for the Election (VoteReport), they have two techies building iPhone Applications for the Inauguration — so that people can post audio, text (and maybe even video?) online. I will definitley take part and text updates from @ericaamerica to NPR. If you are a DC Local, use the tag #inaug09. If you are coming from somewhere else, use the tag #dctrip09.
With all the early reports of cell phone towers being stretched with an estimated 2 million out-of-town visitors, it is safe to assume this project, though smart and ambitious, will have problems. But how do you cover such an event through social media — when technology and towers will be so seriously challenged?
If the towers fail us all – which would be tragic considered how connected we are – watch out for me on my little red rider, biking back and forth to my media station in Dupont to upload, tag and blog. Then, I’ll be back again on the streets. It’ll be like a little post-Street Team reporting marathon. 🙂
**If you are an iPhone App guru, or have any other ideas for NPR’s social media coverage, contact Andy via Twitter. (@acarvin)