Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Reinventing Journalism

By Eleanor Haas

With all the sturm und
about newspapers dying under the weight of production and
distribution costs and other media also economically challenged, it’s all too
easy to forget there’s a lot more to news than mere business models undergoing
radical change.

The amazing societal model the Founding Fathers established
for the US has since Day 1 relied on news people to keep government
honest.  It was the French – at the time
of their and our revolutions – who called news people “the Third Estate” – with
the corrupt government of elite nobles and the oppressed common people as the
other two “estates.”  But nowhere in the
world but the U.S. has the press been truly free.  Nowhere else has it held government feet to
the fire.  Think Pentagon Papers.  Think Watergate.  News people are key to our way of life both
for keeping us informed and for enforcing accountability by those in power.  But their effectiveness has been blunted by
the erosion of public trust.

Jay Rosen, Associate Professor of NYU’s Carter Journalism
Institute, had some telling things to say on the subject at a recent Digital
Breakfast event organized jointly by Gotham Media Ventures and Frankfurt Kurnit
Klein & Selz:

“To get people to recognize the real world, to recognize
facts (and not just accept information that validates their point of view), we
need trusted news tellers . . . To have a democracy, you have to try to engage
people where they are.  The availability
of alternative sources of information allows us to check accuracy . . . The
failure of the press to hold government accountable on the Iraq war led to
serious mistrust of the media.

”When media produce the same kind of news they did when they
were a monopoly, this causes mistrust; yet new tools are adding new power for
journalists, and journalists can be way better.

”Participatory journalism – citizen journalism – occurs when
the news audience uses press tools to inform one another – the Internet,
digital cameras, blogging and videos,. 
Since they have the power and occasionally want to alert others to an
opinion or experience, they have the ability to report.  It’s all one system with lots of people
collaborating on a single story.

“I hope for a powerful combination of professional
journalists working with distributed networks of caring citizens in spite of
all the irresponsible bloggers and elitists complaining about the open Internet.”

Mr. Rosen’s hope is clearly shared by others.  We see evidence of this in the emergence of at
least two organizations.  In New York,  ProPublica, a not-for-profit newsroom that
produces investigative journalism in the public interest by using a pro-am
model of professional journalists and a distributed network of 2,500 citizen
journalists.  In Vancouver, NowPublic,
now part of  Both are citizen journalist networks being used
to create local news sites on a pro-am model with a positive cost model. 

the hybrid pro-am model part of the answer to cost-effective news
gathering?  Might it also 
help restore
public trust in news tellers?  Only time
will tell

Newspapers are Dead – Long Live Journalism!

By Eleanor Haas

"Google isn’t stealing content from newspapers and other media
companies. It’s stealing their control over distribution, which has
always been the engine of profits in media. Google makes more money
than any other media company on the web because it has near monopoly
control over content distribution (i.e. like a metro newspaper in the
pre web era)." (Publishing 2.0 )

Seeing this story was an aha moment.  Journalist friends bemoan the end of journalism as they and we have known it.  But what's over isn't journalism; it's the old business models.  Oh, yes, and any monopoly professional journalists  may once have had over content creation.  It's a brave new world based on the same old principles:  quality content desired by readers no matter who wrote it, a cost-efficient way to deliver that content to the reader and an innovative strategic vision to drive the business engine.  Entrepreneurs to the rescue!

Ten New Marketing Rules

By Eleanor Haas

New Marketing

Goal is to build relationships

Segment customers by needs & interests or

Market through a continuing conversation that
can become viral

Messaging is a peer exchange

Products are differentiated by brand and brand

Brand value grows out of delivery of the brand
promise and customer experience excellence

Marketers and customers interact as peers in the
same space

Use online gated communities to understand the market

Speak honestly in a human voice, be substantive
and deliver content directly to customers that they will value

 10. Develop sales through engagement.

Old Marketing

Goal is to push product

Segment customers by demographics

Market through campaigns

 4.      Marketer
commands and controls channels and content

5.      Products
are differentiated by features

Marketer defines brand value in terms of name
recognition and brand recall

Marketers and customers are on two sides of an
impenetrable barrier

Focus groups

Proclaim through ad and PR intermediaries

10.  Push product in ads
and email

Entrepreneurship to the Rescue?

By Eleanor Haas

Heiferman, an iconic entrepreneur, tweeted something that led me to seek out and read a post by Zack Exley – Here's a paragraph:

"During a 'crash' like the one we’re beginning to feel now, there are
few jobs. When the factories, stores and offices in our communities
start shutting their doors, then there is a terrible sinking feeling.
Suddenly it’s perfectly clear that we don’t control our own means of
making a living. Suddenly we realize that even though we worked as a
part of an interdependent society of producers, we are unable to stop
the destruction of our means of producing. Suddenly it’s clear that the
one calling the shots is that “abstract owner” of the economy — or, as
it’s called in polite society, 'the market.'”

This has bearing on a question a friend
asked at lunch yesterday.  Three of us
got into general conversation about the socio-economic-political
situation.  My friend said some people were
suggesting we need to overhaul the system. 
I quickly – perhaps too quickly – said no, we just need to enforce
existing regulations.  The Exley blog
post goes deeper.  Although it’s written from
the perspective of a Christian, it has far broader implications and seems to me
to lay out fundamental issues about the “absent owner” and capitalism that go
back more than 300 years to the start of the Industrial Revolution.

intuitive feelings of mine made this resonate with me.  One is that we as a society have lost
adherence to the Golden Rule of fairness – treating others as we would like to
be treated ourselves – and, as part of this, to the principles of candor and honesty..  In the absence of transparency and ethics,
those who choose to abandon integrity get away with actions that harm others to
varying degrees.  In the absence of candor
and integrity, trust is lost.  In the
absence of trust, peaceful society is in jeopardy.

The other is that we as a society have failed
to accept individual responsibility and accountability as an essential
corollary of a free, democratic society of equals.  GM’s Chairman/CEO and Board have both been
deposed because they needed government money as an alternative to bankruptcy,
failed to act with fairness and honesty, and the government made their departure a condition for survival – with the probability that
the money would be no more than a bridge to bankruptcy in the end.  But shareholders could and probably should have
done the same thing long ago.  Health
care costs have spiraled out of control, jeopardizing not just individual life
savings but the viability of the principle of universal protection against the
consequences of catastrophic illness. 
But most individuals accept little or no responsibility for their
personal health or for the effect of their actions on the system.

So,Exley has no answers, but he may have cut a path through
the jungle of complex issues by suggesting a fundamental question.  What can we do to overcome obstacles to the principle
of “pursuit of happiness” by one and all promised by the Declaration of
Independence – now not just for the US
but for today's
global community?

To this, I add three more. It was as a nation of entrepreneurs that we envisioned a society that supported "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  Entrepreneurs constitute a sector of our society that can capitalize on the crash as never before, thanks to the capabilities of the Internet.  The crash   motivates people to start their own businesses and the combination of the crash and Internet reduces the cost of starting them. 

  1. Might the growing trend to entrepreneurship be a key step in the right direction?  
  2. Might self-reliant entrepreneurs be more likely than "absent owners" to maintain a commitment to fairness and integrity? 
  3. Might a nation of business owners be more likely than a nation that perceives itself as largely powerless to accept personal responsibility and accountability?

Tectonic Shifts in Digital Media

By Eleanor Haas

“Tectonic” – pertaining to changes in the earth’s
crust.  “Tectonic shift” was something
George Kliavkoff said at least three times in the course of his NYMIEG
interview on December 17th.  Probably
not surprising from the Chief Digital Officer at NBC Universal at this moment
in media history.  And those three were
only a few of many implied. 

The first shift he mentioned was the shift of media and
advertising to digital platforms as ROI becomes increasingly important to marketers.  At the moment, he commented, some pockets of
advertising will slow but overall, we can expect to see a flight to quality –
to premium content, such as NBC’s 

But Hulu itself seems to me to be a tectonic shift in
business models.  A joint venture between
NBC and FOX, the site delivers free streaming video content of hit television
shows to online viewers.  Doesn’t this run
the risk of cannibalizing the television shows and their revenue streams, he
was asked?  No way.  To the contrary, NBC has found this drives
incremental TV viewership later.  “Prime
time television viewers use mobile devices and online to catch up,” he

The magic sauce in the new world of content is making things
convenient and easy for customers.  It’s
all about making a great customer experience accessible to customers when and
where they want it and giving them choice. 
This is a tectonic shift Kliavkoff and others now take for granted, the
shift in power from seller to buyer.

Hulu’s ad model gives viewers an amazing choice.  Viewers choose between three to five
15-second interstitials and a pre-roll of a full movie trailer.  About half choose each.  Interesting.

To distribute its great shows widely enough to make them readily
accessible, Hulu made yet another radical decision:  be sure its content is where the viewers
are.  Give it to Yahoo, MSN and other
distribution partners but require that it be on the Hulu player with Hulu
advertising, straight off the Hulu server to maintain the integrity of the
business model and to protect the site from piracy.

Consistent with these shifts is the coming personalization
of local online programming.  A study I
conducted 12 years ago found that “everything points to personalization as
probably the single most important interactive marketing trend today.”  Forrester Research at the time was alerting
us to the expectation that personalization would redefine the web and was
something every site must prepare for. 

Kliavkoff predicts a wave of technology soon to come that
will enable web sites to personalize content quickly, making every visit more
relevant because viewers no longer have to contend with 90 percent to 95
percent of irrelevant pixels.  For this,
sites will have to share data and information while being polite about privacy,
he explained.  Behavioral targeting and
social networking are both part of this.

The iPhone, App store and Adroid represent
another tectonic shift with far-reaching implications.  These break through carrier control over
mobile content for the first time ever. 
As phones become an open platform and marketplace for premium content,
they become candidates for significant new mobile e-business models as well.  Lots more coming down the pike on this one;
it’s still early days

Then and Now

By Eleanor Haas

A friend’s astrologer reported that the heavens are aligned
the way they were at the time of the American and French Revolutions.

An interesting parallel: 
toppling of the existing power structure and a redistribution of wealth
so it reaches more people.

Then it was triggered by violent upheaval.  Now the developed world has systems in place
so that we have a collapse of some financial practices and institutions with
government intervention, in effect, taking power from the handful of
super-beneficiaries of the old system and redistributing it more widely.  We also have an election coming up for which
unprecedented numbers of underdogs – young people and ethnic minorities – have
registered.  If Obama wins, we’ll have a
descendant of a race that was enslaved less than 150 years ago in the highest
office of the land and one of the most powerful in the world.

At the same time, we have the continuation of the Internet
revolution and changes in business operations, market structure and the pace of
change.  The Internet also topples the
existing power structure because it redistributes information so it reaches
more people.

Also the same time, we have violent upheavals in the


, which have toppled the existing power structure.


But the World Goes ‘Round

Music by John Kander.  Lyrics by Fred Ebb.

Sometimes you're happy, sometimes you're sad
But the world goes 'round
Sometimes you lose every nickel you had
But the world goes 'round

Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn't alter a thing
Take it from me, there's still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a fall and a spring

And sometimes a friend starts treating you bad
But the world goes 'round
And sometimes your heart breaks with a deafening sound

Somebody loses and somebody wins
And one day it's kicks, then it's kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes 'round-
But the world goes 'round
But the world goes 'round

Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn't matter at all
Take it from me, there's still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a spring and a fall

And sometimes a friend starts treating you bad
But the world goes 'round
And sometimes your heart breaks with a deafening sound

Somebody loses and somebody wins
Then one day it's kicks, then it's kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes 'round
And 'round and 'round and 'round and 'round
The world goes 'round and 'round and 'round
And 'round!
(From "New York, New York")

Political Haste Makes Fiscal Waste

By Eleanor Haas

“Without government help” is how Wells Fargo snatched
Wachovia from under Citigroup’s nose just four days after an oral agreement of
government subsidy  to enable Citigroup’s
acquisition.  How many options were
examined before Treasury’s decision to underwrite the Citigroup deal?  If Wells Fargo was in a financial position to
do a deal, how many other healthy banks are out there, ready to ride to the
rescue of troubled institutions without government help?

The core issue everyone agrees is liquidity.  Banks won’t lend..  And that’s the primary reason given for the heavily hyped
bailout bill.  Banks are required to
maintain a 12:1 cash reserve in order to lend, and mark-to-market accounting
rules mean that toxic assets have driven the value of these reserves below the
legal requirement for lending,.  What has
been considered to address this issue directly? 
Is there no rifle-shot approach short of what is now an $810 billion bailout bill
with all its add-ons?

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been in trouble for a long,
long time, but suddenly they’re nationalized. 
But what about the underlying causes for the collapse?  What difference will government ownership
make if the old business policies and practices continue?

What if the bailout bill does pass today but consumer confidence
continues to plummet?  Then what?

Armageddon or Opportunity?

By Eleanor Haas

Yes, this is a major inflection point, a revolutionary change
from one economy to another.  Ever the
optimist, I see radical change, not disaster! 
And radical change always means opportunity to the entrepreneur and
innovator.  This all seems to me to have
been inevitable.  We could not possibly
continue down the mad, mad, mad path of ever more complex and deceptive
derivatives and spiraling debt.  Nor
could we continue down the road of government to the rescue.  That’s just not the American way.

No, we are not entering another Great Depression – thousands
upon thousands of unemployed men – and today, women as well – standing in line
for food handouts.

But we are certainly in a crisis of uncertainty.  Banks aren’t lending at the moment, and
properly managed debt is fundamental to all businesses.  So now what? 
Bankruptcy for those with overleveraged financials.  Is that such a bad thing?  It’s the normal way of the world.  It doesn’t mean the company dies.  It just means the owners lose their
investment, and creditors take over.  It
doesn’t mean everyone loses their jobs. 
It just means employees may have some new bosses.

How many companies will fail? 
Given the failed bailout amount of $700 billion, a lot.  But is it better for that amount to come out
of the pockets of those responsible for overleveraging or out of the pockets of
taxpayers who had nothing to do with it?

The bailout bill was a bad, bad idea if you believe in the free
enterprise system.  It was a terrible
idea if you believe in personal responsibility and accountability.

CNN just published a point of view that happens to agree with mine by someone eminently qualified on the subject:  Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer in economics in Harvard.  Here's what he has to say:

What do you think?