29 December, 2007

Aphorism of the Day

"The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create."
--Leonard Sweet

WSC Show #52 - Scene of the Crime: Interviews with Lee Bridges and Christian Romero

This episode concludes coverage of the "Scene of the Crime" picketing rally held at the AMPTP-HQ in Encino, California. Featured today is writer Lee Bridges and teamster Christian Romero. Recorded Tuesday, 18 December 2008. 

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
Photo: Damon D'Amato

2008: Embracing the (Real) Web

Terry Heaton posts a new blog entry entitled "Local Media in a Postmodern World" that's worth a mention.

Reposted below with permission as indicated in Creative Commons license 2.5:

Local Media in a Postmodern World
2008: Embracing the (Real) Web

by Terry Heaton

We got our first television set in 1952 when I was six years old. I had a kidney disease and was bedridden, so the new invention became my friend. Radio held me in its grip with super heroes and Western dramas, but TV made me smile.

My favorite show was "Andy's Gang," featuring Andy Devine, Froggy the Gremlin, Midnight the Cat and Squeaky the Mouse. "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy," Andy would shout in his raspy voice. There would be a flash of smoke and a "BOING," and then Froggy would appear with his greeting, "Hiya, kids. Hiya. Hiya."

Television back then was unbelievably boring compared to today. It's easy to understand, when you consider that much of what passed for programming in the early 50s was actually radio with a camera. Television programming was created by the radio executives who owned the television networks. Froggy, for example, got his start on Smilin' Ed McConnell's "Buster Brown gang" radio show in 1944, along with Midnight and Squeaky.

Comedy programs such as The Jack Benny Show, dramatic anthologies such as Kraft Television Theater, quiz shows such as Name That Tune, and variety programs such as Arthur Godfrey and his Friends borrowed heavily from popular radio formats. Other early programming was theatrical — cameras on a stage.

It is in this vein that television programmers have tried to adopt everything about TV to their little corners of the Web, and it is here where mistakes have been and continue to be made, for the Web is not broadcasting — not even close. The Web is also not a newspaper — not even close there either, and yet newspaper companies view it with the same eyes as their broadcast counterparts — extensions of their legacy businesses.

Newspapers and television stations are mass marketing vehicles. By nature and structure, the Web dismantles mass, and this is the essential problem. It's not the Web's fault; it's the fault of those who only see it as a vehicle for redistribution of content and the business paradigms associated with that content.

Every website is equal in the structure of the Web. They're each just a pixel on the page that makes up the whole. This website is a pixel. Your website is a pixel. Google is a pixel. And so forth.

Consequently, we have traditional media who have played with the Web instead of embracing it, and a change in this kind of thinking will dominate new developments for local media companies in 2008. We have no choice. 2009, with a new President, no election or Olympics, economic uncertainty, and digital television on top of already decreasing revenues, looms like a tidal wave just a few miles off shore. As AR&D president and CEO Jerry Gumbert puts it, "2008 will be all about getting ready for 2009."

He's right, and this will mean acceptance on a level we've yet to witness in the executive suites and in the newsrooms of media companies and a willingness — even an eagerness — to move forward to become local portfolio companies, with traditional media, perhaps, moving from center stage. Along with this move will come a resource shift away from the portal websites that host our traditional media brands to business opportunities that will fund, in part, the future mission of the journalism we all hold so dear.

The result will be genuine efforts on the part of companies to return the handshake that the Web offers to them, to become more than merely destination websites or application platforms. Media companies will meet the (Real) Web in so doing, and learn to play by different rules, those already well-known in both the abstract and in practice throughout Silicon Valley and in the work spaces of thousands of companies who learned years ago that the Web will never be dominated or manipulated, and that if you want to do business here, you have to be prepared to play by its rules.

Attraction, not hyperbole, is what works here, for the supply and demand equation has been turned upside down.

Nokia issued a report last month expressing their belief that 25 percent of media consumption in 2012 will be peer-to-peer, people entertaining themselves, their families, their friends and their tribes. Even if this prediction is optimistic, the truth is entertainment is moving in this direction, and the smart local media company will seize the opportunity it provides.

And the opportunity is significant, because the people formerly known as the audience want to know what we know and do what we do, and any model that enables this will be successful.

Unless you've actually looked, for example, you cannot comprehend the volume of video being produced in schools across the U.S. Who's teaching them to do it right? Should we have a role in that? Where is this video displayed? What will these students do with their video skills as they get older? Are these not the future employees of television stations? What will a television station look like downstream?

A prototype of sorts is Maui Today, an online video platform — a new term to describe what used to be a "television station" — serving the entertainment and information needs of the people of Maui. Maui Today is lightweight, original, and loaded with content — some professionally produced, the rest created by the (lucky) people who call Maui home. Like other hyperlocal models, this one "works," because the community supports it, not because some bigger media company is trying to make it part of their portal.

2008 will also be a year in which at least some local media executives grasp the reality that their monopoly on news and information has disappeared and that the only future they have is enabling the rise of personal media (including advertising) in their communities. This is difficult to accept, because it runs right into the most basic beliefs about the news business and its traditional sources of revenue.

A recent discussion thread via Poynter's Online-News email list raised the issue that we've got to "figure out ways to monetize our content." This is the dream of traditional media, but it is one from which we must be willing to awaken. L.A. Times columnist David Lazarus spoke for many when he lamented the following:

Newspapers, including this one, give away the store online, all the while wringing their hands about declining revenue and circulation. Everyone says the Net represents the future of journalism, and that's probably true. But at this point, no one knows how to make much money at it.

I'm scratching my head trying to come up with another financially challenged industry that found salvation by charging people nothing for its output.

Like other observers, Lazarus went on to predict serious difficulties for our culture as a result.

Here's the thing: As long as the big papers give it away free, the little papers will have no choice but to do the same. Before you know it, no more little papers.
Meanwhile, blogs will continue sprouting like crab grass throughout the electronic ether. Soon, the line separating quality journalism from utter hokum will be too blurry to discern.

This is overstated, and the problem with this kind of thinking is that it insists that there are only two ways to make money as a media company, both tied to the output of the newsroom: use the scarcity of the special nature of our content by charging for access to it or charge advertisers for adjacent positioning. This is textbook Media 1.0, and the Web is so much more.

Content scarcity is history. It will simply never support significant revenue growth for two reasons. One, content is plentiful on the Web. Everybody makes it, and as Lazarus points out, it's free. Two, we don't have the resources to make enough of it to satisfy reach/frequency advertising models. "More, more, more," we cry, but it's driven by an impossible strategic concept.

"Free is not a business model," says web economics guru Umair Haque, "It's a strategy." The business model is what needs reinvention, and that's what we'll see happening as more companies embrace the (Real) Web in the year ahead.

For what this really means is that the end of the ad-supported content model as the sole revenue source for all media is growing closer. Advertisers have needed mass media, because it was the only way to reach potential customers. Classifieds have been the business model of newspapers for a very long time, because the community paper was the logical path for enabling commerce. That role for papers is gone now, and efforts to resurrect it will never be completely successful. The model is in full-blown decay, and other forms of ad-supported content are headed down the same path.

So do we just give up? Of course not! We're in a transition period, and there is still plenty of money to be made the old-fashioned way, but in our minds, we must surrender to the inevitable, for it's the only way we'll move forward in the new world. When the ship you're on is sinking, you make every effort to keep it afloat. But when its doom is certain, your only choice is to find something else that floats, and this is what will produce a real shift in local media during 2008.

We have to, for 2009 looms as a cloud of locusts on a meadow rich with life.

We'll see more companies putting less emphasis on their branded websites and transitioning to pure web-based entrepreneurial activities. This will mean local control of the technology and the ad-serving necessary to grow and a rethinking of the essential mission and methods of local media. Those who succeed will be those who can work without static plans, for everything is simply moving too fast for "one potato, two potato, three potato, four" thinking. The goal is what matters, and we must be willing to stay goal-driven.

By this time next year, many local media branded web efforts will involve some form of continuous stream of news and an awakening to the reality of news as a process, not a finished product. It's the logical format to serve an audience largely at work, and the RSS feeds from such an effort can be used in any form of unbundled media play.

2008 will also bring new challenges to and pressures on the concept of net neutrality, mostly built around the real or perceived need to expand the pipes of the Web to handle the increasing bandwidth demand of broadband and other video applications. It's a fairly safe bet that we'll have a tiered web within the next 24 months, that the flat rates we've known since its inception will move to flexible rates based on bandwidth usage.

And as more local media companies come in touch with the (Real) Web, we'll see more web-only sales people and a reduction in convergence sales. This is inevitable (and necessary) for companies to grow pure web revenue.

Above all, 2008 must be a year of action for everybody. We cannot afford to be lulled to complacency with political or Olympics ad revenues. Everything is NOT okay, and this includes our dependence on our portal websites.

The life of the Static Web — during which we duplicated local media online, like the early television programmers did with radio programs — is evolving into the vastly more flexible Semantic Web, and future relevancy depends on our ability to function beyond simple content creators.

Embrace the (Real) Web in 2008. It's the only way to create sustainable growth for the years that will follow. Venture capital money is flowing into pureplay media start-ups, because investors see opportunities in the inaction of media companies already in place.

We cannot sit back and let this happen unchallenged any longer.

28 December, 2007

The State of the Media Democracy: Are You Ready for the Future of Media?

Reuters is reporting today that according to a study done by Deloitte & Touche, more and more Americans are creating content on-line (hello!) with 32% calling themselves broadcasters. Close to 40 percent (38%) of Americans are watching TV shows online, 36 percent use their cell phones for entertainment and 45 percent are creating Web sites, music, videos and blogs.

Here's a preview of the report on D&T's website. The key highlights will be officially released on January 7th 2008 at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The AMPTP Strikes Back

This is the first video produced by the AMPTP since the strike began. It was published on the alliance’s Web site just after 10 a.m. this morning, at the moment when, according to the studios, “WGA members have lost more in salary and benefits than they ever hoped to gain by striking.”

The WGAE and the WGAW have issued the following statement regarding Contract 2007 negotiations:
"Big media walked away from the table and refuses to negotiate. The media conglomerates know that the core issue in these negotiations is new media. Their current proposals would cause writers even more economic harm in the future than they claim this strike has caused. To sidestep this fact, they erroneously claim we are focused on other issues. The conglomerates are responsible for creating the economic havoc. They should put their energies into making a fair deal with writers rather than issuing misleading statements."

Step Up to the Genius Bar

cash advance

I recently submitted this blog to the "Blog Readability Test" in which it was evaluated as to what level of education is required to comprehend it. Whereas some fellow bloggers have ranked "Junior high school", "College undergrad", and "College postgrad", the Writers' Strike Chronicles is indistinguishable between genius and insanity. Perhaps this is why the AMPTP can't grok the issues surrounding New Media and the Internet as the future of television. I mean, they just don't have a clue!

WSC Show #51 - Scene of the Crime: Interview with Bill Prady

This episode features continued coverage of the "Scene of the Crime" picketing rally held at the AMPTP-HQ in Encino, California. Here, I speak to Bill Prady, the executive producer and co-creator of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Recorded Tuesday, 18 December 2008. 

Mentioned in this episode: StopBigMedia.com. Our democracy needs more independent voices in the media, not fewer. Congress must reverse the Federal Communications Commission decision allowing more corporate media consolidation. Please Sign a petition from MoveOn.org urging your Senators and Representatives to ask Congress to stop media consolidation.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
Photo: Damon D'Amato

27 December, 2007

Film Commissioner of Cleveland: Ivan Schwarz

At a time of year where most news stories and blogs are featuring year-in-review retrospectives and predictions for 2008, I was surprised to find this clip from last summer about the "Future of Film" in which Ivan Schwarz, the Film Commissioner of Cleveland, weighs in on film, the Internet, mobile technology, gaming and global television.

Radiohead To Promote Album With New Year’s Eve Concert on Current TV

Radiohead will be broadcasting a commercial free, taped, private performance of In Rainbows in its entirety on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day on the Current TV network (hello Al Gore and thank you!). Current TV is a peer-to-peer, interactive network and independent media company that won an Emmy Award for its groundbreaking interactive programming.
Broadcast times for the concert are:
  • December 31, 2007: 9 p.m. PST / 12 a.m. EST , 10 p.m. PST / 1 a.m. EST
  • January 1, 2008: 5 a.m. PST / 8 a.m. EST, 6 p.m. PST / 9 p.m. EST
Last October, Radiohead released their seventh album "In Rainbows" as a digital download in in which buyers could name their price. To me, this signaled that the days were numbered for the record industry.

David Byrne interviewed Thom Yorke, Radiohead's lead singer, for Wired magazine. Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye and it was a fab read.

However, Byrne did another article for Wired, a companion piece to his interview with Yorke entitled "Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars" that I find to be more compelling. So did the NY Times citing that:
"By Mr. Byrne’s count, there are six major options for musicians, ranging from letting labels and industry pros take care of their business functions to going off the grid “where the artist does nearly everything.” The “totally D.I.Y. model is certainly not for everyone,” he wrote, “but that’s the point. Now there’s choice.”

WSC Show #50 - Scene of the Crime: Interviews with James Hurley, Mark Goffman & Rob Morrow

In today’s episode we continue our coverage of the "Scene of the Crime" picketing event held at the AMPTP-HQ in Encino, California. Featured in this podcast: James Hurley, a WGA staffer; Law & Order SVU supervising producer Mark Goffman; Numb3rs director/producer John Behring and actor Rob Morrow. Recorded Tuesday, 18 December 2008.

Rob Morrow and John Behring / Photo by Damon D'Amato


Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
Photo: Damon D'Amato

26 December, 2007

Bye, Bye Miss American Pie

BEFORE THE MUSIC DIES documents the pathetic state of the music industry -- so y'all in the entertainment industry could learn something here. Narrated by Forrest Whitaker and features interviews and performances by Erykah Badu, Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, and Branford Marsalis.

Last year, BEFORE THE MUSIC DIES filmmakers Andrew Shapter and Joel Rasmussen walked away from traditional Hollywood distribution to instead pursue a large-scale grassroots release.

WSC Show #49 - Scene of the Crime: The Indictment

In today’s episode writers from over 35 crime dramas and police television series came together for contract justice with the “Scene of the Crime” rally that took place in front of the AMPTP-HQ in Encino, California. Featured are fans Heather Griffith and her sister Monique Darling. Also in this podcast: Rene Balcer (creator of Law and Order: Criminal Intent) and Marg Helgenberger (star of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation). Together they serve a three-count Bill of Indictment against the AMPTP and eight unnamed co-conspirators. Recorded Tuesday, 18 December 2008.

Extra: Interview with Rene Balcer on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes

"Rockford Files Theme" performed
by Asterios Kokkinos and Melissa Kaplan


25 December, 2007

quarterlife deemed a "bomb". Ouch!

Podcasting News reports that quarterlife is a "bomb" claiming that: "Views for the show have plummeted, going from nearly 800,000 YouTube views for the first episode to just a few thousand for some recent episodes."

The more interesting aspects of this article are the comments, with one reviewer saying: "I think the show rocks! I could care less how many people watch it."

Read the article here.

NewTeeVee seems confused by the show as well in this post entitled "quarterlife Stats Draw Multiple Interpretations, Personalities"

This is a test

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-c4644bab406fe92a4f2fd4f805e5d895}

WSC Show #48 - Interview with Tristan Katz

In today’s episode I meet up with up-and-coming new media actor Tristan Katz at the picket lines at the “It’s A Crime” themed picketing event in front of the AMPTP business offices. Recorded Tuesday, 18 December 2007.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on Magnatune.com

24 December, 2007

Today On YouTube

Today on YouTube, commentary from a professional journalist and some UGC by an amateur vlogger.

New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter tries to sort through the causes and effects of the work stoppage but stops short of identifying who is to blame for the heated rhetoric and stalled negotiations.

Word from the street: a television viewer's retrospective and commentary of what passed for news in 2007. Interesting take on the writers' strike, reality television programming and loss of TV viewership: "I watch YouTube videos more than television anyway....courtroom drama and reality TV suck!"

WSC Show #47 - Exclusive Interview with Santa Claus

Disclaimer: NSFW

We interrupt our regularly scheduled strike coverage to report that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has began the annual tracking of Santa Claus as he makes his way around the world. This year NORAD is implementing Google Earth to monitor Santa's progress and also began using special Santa Cams to upload videos of his travels to the NORAD Tracks Santa YouTube channel. For ongoing updates on Santa’s location, log on to the NORAD Tracks Santa website .

I recently had an opportunity to talk to Santa himself at SantaCon last weekend. SantaCon began as a Cacophony Society event in 1994 to celebrate the Yule season in a deliberately anti-commercial fashion by incorporating guerrilla street theatre, flash mobs, pranksterism, and public intoxication. It has now devolved into an international public bar crawl taking place in major metropolitan cities worldwide.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on Magnatune.com

You Better Watch Out!

From the NORADSanta.org:

The NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) program has been around for a long time, since 1955 to be exact! We believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of people throughout the world.

NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa - radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighter aircraft.

Detecting Santa all starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system has 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America. NORAD makes a point of checking the radar closely for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

Santa can also be tracked on Twitter!

WSC Show #46 - Interview with Stephen Davis

In today’s episode we speak to AFI graduate Stephen Davis at the picket lines in front of Sony Studios. Recorded Thursday, 13 December 2007.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on Magnatune.com

23 December, 2007

Bloody Hell! The Queen Launches YouTube Channel!

Read all about it in the BBC News. Cheerio!

Happy, Happy! Joy, Joy!

FairDeal4Writers Video Contest

WSC Show #45 - Interview with Bill Odenkirk

In today’s episode we’ll talk to strike coordinator Bill Odenkirk at the picket lines in front of Fox Studios. Bill has written for such shows as The Simpsons, Futurama and Mr. Show. Recorded Thursday, 13 December 2007.
Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on Magnatune.com

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