Friday, December 21, 2012

Morning Brief: The world is still here, better get shopping; Bernstein takes media to task; thoughts on 'Snow Fall'

Those who, thinking that the Mayans had correctly predicted the end of the world, woke today to discover that they had lost their bet. Because of this, there will no doubt me a large number of people rushing to malls today, quickly shopping for Christmas gifts they did not think they would have to give. Can't win them all.

While out, those same people might take along a tablet or smartphone and read Carl Bernstein's take down of both Rupert Murdoch and his empire, and the media, in general.

Bernstein, the former Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame, posted a column on The Guardian's website late yesterday afternoon entitled Why the US media ignored Murdoch's brazen bid to hijack the presidency.

In the column, Bernstein recaps his former colleague Bob Woodward's Washington Post story about efforts by Murdoch and crew to enlist General David Petraeus to run for president. In case you were not aware, Petraeus turned Murdoch down and Obama went on to win a second term (I hope this isn't news to you).

Bernstein is not exactly happy with the way this story was played in the WaPo, or taken up by the rest of the U.S. media world. He thinks its a big story that a media organization would try to manipulate the political system in such a brazen way and wonders why the rest of the media world doesn't think so, as well (or why the WaPo, itself, would downplay the story by running it in the Style section).
Yesterday much of the Twitter world, or at least the media part, were glowing in their praise for the amazing feature posted on the home page of The New York Times.

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek is a brilliantly design and executed example modern web design. If you have not seen the feature you really need to do yourself a favor and take a look.

But while most media observers and journalists themselves gushed over the feature I was saddened to see that once again that the ad side had been left out.

According to the Poynter piece on the feature, there was close collaboration between the writer, John Branch, and the sports and graphics editors. Great. But stuck in the middle of each segment of the feature were ugly, traditional web ads – banners and medium rectangles.

So let's all make a New Year's resolution right here and now, let's resolve to try and fix the one problem in the newspaper industry that is paramount. It is not how to create great web feature, or how to do tablet editions. It is how we make this industry pay, how we generate digital advertising revenue, and turn a profit.

You can revolutionize the art of story telling online, but if you can not create a revolution in newspaper advertising you are out of business.

It is time to bring in the ad department and let them be part be part of the team again. Believe me, no one on the ad side wants to interfere with your editorial judgments, or insert a plug for their clients – if they do you kick them out of the room, and straight out of the building. No, what they want to do is be part of the future, a future where newspapers are once again attracting a healthy share of the advertising. To do this, they will need to be able to present their clients with something other than buttons and banners.