The news business is dead. Toss in a few lilies and start filling the grave.
At least that’s what a vocal coterie of triumphalists in the media and advertising industries—although not necessarily our readers—keeps saying. And believe me, all of us in the news business spend some portion of our waking (and sleeping) hours asking ourselves whether we’re just prepping for a crowd-scene cameo on “The Walking Dead.”
The news business has been under tremendous scrutiny for the last decade. EE Times editors aren’t alone in having been forced to do some serious soul searching. The syndrome afflicts the business on a global scale.
“Reporter,” “columnist” and “letter to the editor” now sound strangely quaint. They’ve been quickly—and sometimes too eagerly—supplanted by the technocratic “content generator,” “blogger” and “online message board.”
New-media marketing wizards advance the notion of “communities” engaged in “crowdsourcing” through Twitter, Facebook and other “social media.” The mass media, invented by our grandparents’ generation, have fallen out of fashion; in a world of customized information, there are no mass markets.
Significantly, anonymity, in the form of online “handles” (a CB radio term that’s been revived by the online “citizens’ band”), is the norm for the new media. With this trend, regrettably, the news business has shelved the traditional journalistic practice of squeezing a full name, title and company affiliation out of anyone seeking to post a comment in an online community.
As many of our astute readers have already noticed, EE Times has joined the community movement, and we’ve made many adjustments along the way.
As I wrote this column, I fielded an e-mail from a reader who told us, “Stop the twaddle.” He explained: “I don’t understand the strategy of turning EE Times into some kind of social media Web site experiment. It’s the same Muppets who post the same mind-numbing comments time and again. I want to view a media site with good journalistic content and opinion pieces from the best minds in the industry . . . not twaddle that fills 50 percent of the front page. Go back to the old format.”
Well put. We hear you.
I’m not going to tell you we have it all figured out; we don’t. But I will share our thoughts, and review a few initiatives we’ve begun, humbly, in 2010.
Our editorial team rigorously explored, vigorously debated and finally signed on to two huge projects this year: first, to go whole hog building an EE Times online community and, second, to launch EE Times Confidential—our first attempt in paid content—for executives who crave actionable intelligence that can’t be Googled.
You might see those two initiatives as polar opposites. Good! That was our intention.
We are gunning for maximum exposure on our activities online at www.eetimes.com, where our news and analysis—and, critically, our readers’ views—are aired in the open. We invite broad debate, and, obviously, we’re eager for as many online hits as we can get.
In contrast, with EE Times Confidential, we are targeting our intelligence report exclusively to those who pay for it. The audience may be smaller, but being part of it puts each reader “in the know.”
The key is adding value.
In the old days you could add value by owning a media segment and charging to providing access to people wanting stuff published.
Access to media is no longer an issue. Blogging etc makes everyone a publisher.
What you still have is a brand and credibility. Jack Gansell (I'm sure I spelled that wrong!) et al have far more credibility than Random J Blogger. That is value but may be challenging to convert into revenue.
If you just throw things too wide open and "go Facebook" you'll end up losing that credibility and eroding the brand and will be left with nothing.
I read "Do we have a soul" EET December 13, 2010
[w]ith EETimes Confidential, we are targeting our intelligence report exclusively to those who pay for it.
No review of EETimes Confidential invites making money by distributing information paid for those who profit from distribution possibly false information.
Check out what Jerry Krasner is up to.
From what we read C/assembler is the only way to go.
As a regular commentator on EEtimes, what I would say is that this on line edition of EEtimes has renewed my interest in reading the technical magazines again. The interactive nature constantly prompts me to look for the interesting technical stories, inventions, tutorials which I had stopped reading from the hard copy magazines many years back because with those hard copy magazines I had started to feel out of place as I had nobody to discuss. Now this large online community lets me interact with my peers, sometimes take guidance from the more experienced and allows me to voice my concerns , and fantasies to the whole world.
Please define what you mean by "a few bucks" ? I don't mind spending reasonably for information if it gives me an edge, but when you start tossing down $500.00 for a sub, it starts to look like a barrier to many folks. Don't even get me going on folks like the I$$$ with 20K - 60K annual fees...good luck getting that past the bean counters.
Publishers always saw journos as a necessary evil (who else would fill their pages?) and now, Web publishers think they can attract advertising spend without themselves having to provide any content. Hence user-provided copy, hence social media.
The old media were funded by advertizers, and while they are currently not convinced that magazine spend would be justified, they will go anywhere, anytime they could see a return. If they saw results from (say) adverts placed under peoples' shoes, then they would flock to use that medium (there's your 'sole', Junko! :-)
So the real problem is, 'Why would a publisher pay for (good quality) content, when a web mag can be filled by people who are happy to sound off for free?'
That understood, the next question is 'Who cares?'
I say I care! I for one am willing to subscribe to mags that contain something other than ads and infomercials (as I did to Byte, Wireless World and .EXE). Not only that, I suspect that the subscription income to such mags would be dwarfed by the advertising spend by companies wanting to target a committed group of subscribers.
So what's the problem? Answer: engineers who won't spend a few bucks per year to enrich their own minds with some decent reading?
The ability to provide valuable content in a medium that expects everything free is a real dilemma. The paying audience will be smaller than the free audience. Perhaps a combination of subscription fee, advertising, and good content will provide sufficient support for EE Times Confidential. Building a reputation for content that justifies the subscription fee is critical. Perhaps making EE Times Confidential archives (articles older than 1 year?) available for free would help build a reputation that the content is worth a fee.
I am very disappointed that the times has chosen to go with the fee for service model with "EE Times Confidential". I have been an EE times subscriber for over 30 years now, and I have found ee times to be a valued sourced of useful information. In my opinion, the paid by advertisement model has worked just fine.
It really grinds my gears when I google for information and I get a bunch of useless teaser links to paid information services like IEE explore, elsevier, springerlink....ad nauseum... Does this mean that I will soon need to also exclude EEtimes from my google search strings?
It would be a pity if they chose to move all of the good content over to the paid side of the house, but that is exactly what they will need to do if they expect to get paid for it.
I've been reading EE Times since the 1970's. Long may it publish!! Formats inevitably change, but the core mission - that of communicating new technology to its practitioners, us engineers - that mission has never faltered or flagged.
Thank you EE Times for 40 years of excellent communication.
There is a place for both deep research reporting and one for discussion type dialog. But when I think of twitter, what comes to mind is the chatter of little birds. If you are looking for industry news, The Microwave Journal does a good job at that, although it may not interest those not involved, and the is a "controls" publication that provides deep insight into control system projects and just how they were executed. That publication also included detailed evaluations of new rules and regulations and their impact on control systems designs. Unfortunately the format of the publication (online) made it very tedious to read, so much so that I cancelled my subscription.
Right now, it appears that EE Times is aimed both at those who design those huge custom chips, and those of us who design products and systems that might use them. My own area is constrained to use available standard components, since, for me, a huge production run would be 50 units. The result being that my design priorities may be different from those who consider a run of 100,000 units to be a pilot run.
The problem is that we only have a limited amount of time to spend on publications, and so we must select whose we will spend it with.
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.