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.”
Let me explain further.