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WaPo Scrambles to Cover Deep Throat May 31, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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It’s fascinating to watch the Washington Post respond online to the breaking Deep Throat story. Real-time journalism at its, well, you know, I can’t really say “best.”

The story starts breaking around noon, but the Washington Post, who knows the answer, doesn’t officially confirm till 6:30PM. (Perhaps Woodstein got permission to lift the veil.) Initially, the WaPo’s house blogger more or less disbelieves the story. Meanwhile, it scrambles a Slate columnist (the Post now owns Slate) to do an online chat at 5PM. But he’s practically making stuff up out of thin air, and admits it:

    Seattle, Wash.: Sir, why are you, Tim Noah, answering Q and A questions rather than someone directly involved with the story? Do you actually have information, or are you just speculating?

    Tim Noah: I am just speculating! Unfortunately, the people with direct knowledge of this affair aren’t talking. At least so far. I will say, in my defense, that mine is informed speculation, and that I interviewed Felt six years ago about whether he was Deep Throat. He said he wasn’t.

Later, he posts on Slate, which had nothing on the subject till nearly 7PM.

The New York Times snarkily questions the WaPo’s motives:

    Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein both declined at first to be drawn into any discussion of the matter.

    “There’s a principle involved,” Mr. Bernstein said in a telephone interview from New York. “Reporters may be going to jail today for upholding that principle, and we don’t and won’t belittle it now.”

    The reality may be a bit more complex. The Vanity Fair article, written by a Felt family friend and lawyer, John D. O’Connor, portrays a polite but persistent dialogue between the Felt family and Mr. Woodward in recent years over who should control the rights (and benefits) to such a sensational story.

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Ring Tone “Song” Leads UK Charts May 30, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Always good to be reminded of our cultural roots:

    And yet today (Coldplay)’s new single Speed of Sound sits at No 2 in the charts, eclipsed by the Crazy Frog, the ringtone which has delighted half of the nation while leaving the other half profoundly irritated.

    It marks a significant event in British musical history – the first ringtone-inspired tune to rise to the top of the charts.

What the Teens Want, Part XXXVII May 28, 2005

Posted by David Card in Marketing.
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Of course, the iPod is the star of this silly, if entertaining NY Times story on teens, gadgets, and style. Aside from the Roper poll, which lines up with Jupiter’s surveys (see for instance mobile and media/Internet and games and music), some of the “market research” in the story seems a bit stretched: “Pretty much everybody has a cellphone, and iPods, probably one out of three people,” said Greg Becker, 15, of Owings Mills, Md.

The Times harrumphs:

    Now the same pestering is reaching a fever pitch among teenagers, who crave an ever-expanding collection of high-tech items they can’t possibly afford…It is a vortex of contemporary social currents: teenagers’ longing outstrips their ability to satisfy it and collides with most parents’ hope to teach restraint and fiscal responsibility.

Contemporary social currents? I guess if “contemporary” means “same as it’s been for the last 125 years.”

And what’s up with quoting a market research teen “employee” as a user, not as a researcher, and running her picture, again, as a user?

    Jen Lang, 17, a high school senior from Erial, N.J., who also works at Buzz Marketing, said: “I used to make fun of my friend. He had a Nokia phone that was so four years ago.”

Disclaimer: my tween niece has an iPod Shuffle, only partly subsidized by parents, but no cellphone. Yet. She wants one pretty desperately.

Lovin’ the Network TeeVee May 26, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I’m a movie fan. Most of my all-time favorites would qualify as “genre films,” and they’re all American. I call them “movies,” not “films.” But I have enjoyed each of the season finales of my three favorite TV shows – Lost, 24, Veronica Mars – more than any movie I’ve seen this year.

And heck, they were all on broadcast TeeVee!

I liked them mainly because of their scripts, but their direction, production, and star-quality were all good too. I can’t believe this is a trend, but is it some indication of where the craft is going and the talent is coming from?

No, Wait, Network TV Is Back! May 25, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Ah, the folly of trend analysis based on short-term market gyrations:

    “The 25-year slide of broadcast television networks … is coming to an end,” (media analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co Tom) Wolzien says. While the networks likely will resume shedding viewers in coming seasons, he says — especially if cable develops more hit shows of its own — the declines should moderate…Cable channels have grown mainly by expanding their reach into more and more households, not through their shows’ popularity, he says. The industry can’t count as heavily on that kind of growth in the future.

Uh, how can that be? Ratings share is pretty much a zero-sum game, Tom. You can’t have broadcast shrinking but cable only growing by adding new-to-the-medium viewers. The total viewer pool isn’t growing all that much.

Wisely, the Journal’s story is much more cautious about making dramatic conclusions:

    When the finale of “Everybody Loves Raymond” drew 33 million total viewers May 16, for example, CBS was ecstatic, sending out a press release headed: “Holy crap! A record-shattering Monday for CBS.” But “The Beverly Hillbillies,” which aired on CBS in the late 1960s, routinely drew 60 million viewers.

What the Internet Is Good For May 24, 2005

Posted by David Card in Advertising.
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We’re thinking about online video report topics, so I was doing my homework. I think we know what the Internet is best used for:

    “This is the ultimate in bimbo advertising,” Sealey said. “If you are Hooters and you have buxom young waitresses, that’s fine. But Carl’s Jr. is more mainstream. They’ve got families going in there.”

Caution, these are both a little workplace-unfriendly:

Carl’s Jr. Site I doubt the Bentley is from a product placement deal.

UK Trojans Site (sourced by my pal Mark Kingdon of Organic, courtesy of his ClickZ column.

And now, to ensure some blog traffic:

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International News Is Like Unpasteurized Cheese May 23, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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The Journal does a very disappointing job on “How Old Media Can Survive in a New World.” It mostly rehashes conventional wisdom. A couple of interesting tidbits for thought:

– Syracuse’s Robert Thompson recommends cutting back prime time, and letting local affiliates fill the crap content demand. Well, he doesn’t call it that in so many words…

– McDonald’s CMO Larry Light pumps “I’m Lovin’ It” as an umbrella marketing message that can cover multiple, more targeted themes.

– Warren Lieberfarb, who convinced Hollywood to sell DVDs when he was at Warners, suggests simultaneous box office windows and a special limited-VOD window, with on-demand pricing at $40.

But then there’s this ridiculous comment that restores my usual opinion of media academics:

    Larry Ellin, an associate professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, suggests that network news organizations create strategic alliances with outlets around the globe…Audiences might respond to the authenticity and novelty of the content. “People aren’t going to the Internet because it looks like a newspaper,” Mr. Ellin says. “It’s because they’re getting something exotic and fresh and new and unfiltered. It’s like eating French cheese. It hasn’t been pasteurized. And it’s good.”

Yeah, right, that explains why the leading online news sites are Yahoo, AOL, and CNN, and Google’s still an also-ran that recently admitted it should prioritize news stories by mainstream brands.

Hitting Your Way Out of a Slump May 22, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Apparently, I’m going to be about $28.5 million low in the Star Wars opening weekend office pool. Presumably, this will quiet down some of the “box office is dead” Chicken Little-ing. Relying on an Orlando Bloom, R-rated, costume drama as a leading indicator looks a little foolish right now. Sith is pretty awful, by the way, not that it matters.

Newspaper Community Halted May 20, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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A flavor of “citizen journalism” takes it on the chin. The Ventura County Star has shut down reader comments on stories because the commentary got vicious, especially along racial lines. But the Star’s explanation reveals a potential solution:

    And it also showed the unfortunate underbelly of the Internet. The anonymity offered by the Internet on comments like this seems to encourage people to say the meanest, ugliest things about other people.

No kidding. (Earlier, the editor blames talk radio.) Sounds to me like the Star has acted too hastily. It should explore requiring registration for comments, and banning problem commentators, or institute some kind of community self-policing a la eBay. The Star shouldn’t give up such a noble experiment so easily.

Google and Portals May 19, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Looks like I’m about to lose my bet. Check out “Personalize your homepage.”

Google’s stock module seems not to recognize some mainstream ticker symbols, for some reason. And when you click on a company, although you get a nice chart on top of search results, it’s like searching for a quote – nowhere near as useful as what you’d get from MyYahoo. The top news stories are straight from the suppliers’ (NY Times, BBC, Slashdot, Wired News, Google News) main RSS feeds, which isn’t very creative, but that’s not Google’s fault. The drag and drop layout is nice.

But come on, Quote of the Day and Word of the Day but no horoscope? Guys, get on it!