The Decline Of News


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The Decline of News, The Rise of Connection and The Battle For Your Mind

Presented to the Community Indicators Consortium, October 2nd, 2009

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  • I’d like to start my talk with a “tapping” exercise.I’m going to tap a song and I’d like to ask each of you to guess the name of the song.Tap-tap-tapOk, do we have any guesses? Anybody else?That’s right, it was jingle bells…Ok, so what’s the point of tapping?Elizabeth Newton earned her PhD at Stanford by studying a simple game in which there were tappers and listeners.Tappers were instructed to tap out a well-known song just like I did and listeners were instructed to guess.The interesting part is that Newton asked the tappers prior to tapping to predict the odds that the listeners would get their song.Tappers predicted 50%.In actuality, only 2.5% of the listeners got the songs right.What’s going on here.It’s called “the curse of knowledge”. We tend to think, because we have knowledge, that others are hearing our message. But, in reality, people often don’t hear what we have to say or what we communicate.
  • Welcome, my name is tom paper and I’ve entitled my talk todayThe decline of news, the rise of connection and the battle for your mind.My day job is as managing partner of Webster Pacific, a strategic and financial consulting firm in San Francisco. We provide business strategy services, as well as part-time chief financial officer services. In our spare time, we have built a non-profit website called Data360 whose mission is become like a wikipedia for data. Data360 is a collaborative and flexible tool that is available to advance the cause of clarity about what is so. I’m here because I believe in what each of you are doing. I believe that data is a vital component to community improvement. It’s not the only thing, but in my mind, data is vital.I want to share some thoughts I’ve been ruminating on regarding “news” and “connection”…and our minds. I believe that there is a battle going on for what I call our “mindshare” and, like it or not, I think every indicator project is involved in that battle.
  • This section might be more appropriately called the transformation of news.
  • Newspaper advertising revenues are literally falling off a cliff – at least advertising for printed newspapersAnd while online advertising for newspapers (red line) has increased slightly, advertising for all online sources has taken off like a rocket.So, there’s a transformation going on, with traditional media declining and online media increasing
  • But something else is going on…and that something gets at the definitions of news and journalismI used to think that news was anything published by my trusted publications.
  • But over time, and especially because of TV, I’ve become cynicalI find it hard to believe that all the coverage I’m being fed really is worth watching
  • I think the answer is specialized interests, combined with our own appetites for sensational & one-dimensional stories.Mark Bowden has a story in the most recent version of the Atlantic about the Sotomayor confirmation hearings…Where he points out the “wise latina” comment that was carried by all the major news outlets was actually the product of a blogger named Morgen Richmond, a computer consultant from Orange County who spends his evenings searching for ideas and information for his blog.
  • I think we no longer really know what is news and what is journalism.The only thing we really know is that we have informationWhat is news?1) Created by a JournalistSomething “new” Something of interest to the public2) News is what news organizations share.But none of the answers work.True news hardly exists anymore. So, if we don’t have news, what do we have?We have “choice” and “mindshare.”If it bleeds, it leads.Try several answers. Rafael Buelna
  • So, my contention is that information is like food.There is a great scene in the movie Finding Forrester where Jamal, the young man, is at the home of William Forrester, the famous writer and his mentor. Forrester is reading the National Enquirer and Jamal says to him, “What are you doing, man, I thought you were an intellectual?”Forrester says “I read the Times for dinner….but this is my dessert“.
  • So, it’s my contention that information (media) is like food and that, while some of it is healthy, we’re still being fed a lot of junk.
  • Tools for filtering are already here and more are coming.
  • Let’s move on to connection…I think it’s pretty obvious that we are all more connected today than we were 30 years ago
  • The size of the web is one measure of connectedness
  • Another measure of connectedness is all of the social networking sites that are nowavailable…It’s never been easier to re-connect with an old classmate from college, high school, middle school, elementary school, even pre-schoolAnd isn’t that great? Well……I’m not so sure…I for one only have so much energy to invest in all of this and I find myself wondering if every facebook connection is a good thing.Turns out that I’m not the only one. MalcomGladwell, in his book the Tipping Point, pointed out the work of British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who said that there is a limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. Dunbar’s number is generally thought of to be 150 people per person.***********************************************************
  • Nevertheless, social networks seem to be everywhere…and most people who are active in social networking have more than 150 connectionsHow many of you participate in social networks? Ok, how many have more than 100 contacts? More than 200? 500? 1000?Do you know them all?The fact is that social networks are immensely popular today…So, can anyone tell me what type of website, over the past ten years, has been the most popular type of site on the internet?That’s right, it’s porn.But, can anyone tell me type of website, in the past year, has dethroned porn and is now most popular on the internet….That’s right, social networking…
  • Hmmm….so what does this mean, if social networking is as if not more popular than porn…hmmmm…Well, I don’t want to be anti-social, but…Social networks overtake adult websitesJanuary 26, 2009Last week we provided the BBC with some interesting data illustrating how UK Internet visits to Social Networks and Forums have overtaken Adult websites. As the chart below illustrates, social networks overtook last October and have remained ahead since. The BBC News article further discusses some of the trends relating to days of the week and video sites, but not demographics. As you would expect, Adult sites are notably more popular with men but almost 55% of visitors to our Social Networks and Forums category are female. Looking at the data by region, there isn’t a huge variation in the popularity of either adult sites or social networks.In the US social networks first overtook adult sites in mid 2007, but since then the two categories have been battling it out with no clear winner emerging. Looking at the chart above, we may be in for a similar situation in the UK; social networks have stayed ahead of adult sites since overtaking them, but the gap hasn’t widened much in the last couple of months. Adult sites and social networks are two of the topics discussed in “PPC – Porn, Pills and Casinos”, the first chapter “Click” by Bill Tancer. The book, which draws heavily on Hitwise data, is released in the UK next month. Over the next few weeks I’ll be highlighting some other topics that Bill discusses in his book, so keep an eye on the blog for more teasers.
  • I think that connections are like food and we’re being fed a lot of junk.
  • So, what can we do to combat the junk that exists in networks?Well, yes, we can filter, but we also should understand that there is some pretty incredible power at work in networksAlbert Barabasi is a professor at the University of Notre Dame and he wrote a terrific and readable book called Linked about networksHe talks about nodes, links and hubs
  • Barabasi talked about two kinds of networks – random and scale-freeCocktail party – random network theory is that everyone will randomly talk to a number of people - scale-free network theory is that certain people will talk to more people, they will be more important social hubs preferential attachment is the reason for certain people (nodes) becoming more popular than others
  • So I’d like to do an exercise that is related to networks Imagine that you have a piece of paper and that you fold it in half once, then again, and again…and you fold it fifty timesSo the question is, after fifty folds, how thick will the paper be?How many think it will be as much as 1 foot thick?1 yard thick?100 yards thick?Ok, the answer is 93 million miles…This is the power of scale-free networks
  • I know many people here are data wonks, like me, so I thought you would appreciate the backup to this calculationAgain, this is the power of scale-free networksSo what does that mean for the CIC?
  • That means that the sites that are in the CIC need to figure out ways to band together…
  • So I talked before about the battle that is going on for your mindshare….How does community improvement process generally work?FriedmanExamplesHow do citizens spend their time?What would the business approach to mindshare be?Michael PorterHow do businesses try to get people’s attention?Positioning / Made To StickStandards – substance matterHow do businesses try to build loyalty?NPS / GroundswellRecommendations for CIC members
  • Americans have about 4.9 hours per day to spend on leisure and they spend about half of that watching TV
  • So, in the battle for mindshare, we’re competing with junk…And what should we do?
  • We need to be creative. I want to talk about imporant three ways we can employ creativity to gain mindshare…Stories ReferencesBottom up“If the data doesn’t explain something, I don’t want to share it.” – senior aide to gov. of california was asked if he would support making all of california’s data publicly available
  • There’s a terrific book published in the last few years called Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.In this book, they highlight a study done by Carnegie Mellon University where two groups of potential donors were both sent letters which ended with a request for a donation to Save the Children. The first letter contained the statistics about the magnitude of the problems facing children in Africa, The second letter was a heart-wrenching story about a single young girl in Africa.The group that was read the letter with statistics gave $1.14 while the group that read the letter with the story gave $2.38.***************************************************************The basic emotional tactic is to make an association between something that people don’t care about and something that they do care about
  • Another example which comes from the same book is about the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which in the early 90s figured out that a standard serving of movie popcorn has 37 grams of fat.Thought about a bar graph – too scientific, too rational.Called press conference 9/27/92: “A medium sized butter popcorn at a typical neighborhood movie theater contains more artery clogging fat than a bacon and eggs breakfast, a big mac and fries for lunch and a steak dinner with all the trimmings – combined!” They laid out all these other foods on a table alongside the popcorn.Story was a huge hit.***********************************************************The Washington post media critic Howard Kurtz has described how the Center for Science in the Public Interest created a public furor over saturated fat in movie theater popcorn. The CSPI “carefully stage-managed the news,” Kurtz wrote (1994), by…holding a news conference that featured “colorful visuals” and “tantalizing sound bites.”Environmental cancer-- a political disease? P167 By S. Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman
  • I think that all of us struggle with finding the right balance between emotion and data when think about presenting our ideas. Too much emotion and you risk credibility, you become a sensationalist; too much data and your ideas might not sell.
  • The second thing we can do to help our data be heard is to use the power of references.Fred Reicheld, a partner at the strategy consulting firm Bain & Company, wrote a book called The Ultimate Question.He was trying to understand what single customer surveying question best explains which companies have long-term profitable growth.So he looked at customer satisfaction, product satisfaction, perception of value…The answer he came up with was the referral question.
  • The final thing I want to talk about comes from a book about “new media” called Groundswell.
  • The book highlights the various types of “new media” or “social technologies” that are available today and how each one of these technologies might fit for a particular business or organization.I would like to highlight “forums, ratings and reviews.”
  • Numerous businesses have capitalized on interested constituents (or customers) to enhance the conversation that that business has with its customers. For example, has thousands of customers writing reviews of books on its site. They don’t get paid for this work, but they are willing to do it because they have the time (remember the cognitive surplus), they are interested in the subject and they get recognition for their efforts.It seems clear to me that CIC members would have significant opportunities to enlist their citizens to volunteer as moderators for discussions with other citizens about indicators. Ben Warner shared with me the other day that he put up a forum on their website that he had to take down because it took too much time for his staff. My recommendation would be to enlist volunteers. The fact that people wanted to talk about his indicators is a great sign.
  • There are a lot of great tools out there today and my goal is for Data360 to be an impartial, neutral source for hosting data and clarifying conversations about the data.
  • Stories > dataReferences > promotionsBottom up > top down
  • The Decline Of News

    1. 1. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />1<br />
    2. 2. The Decline of News,The Rise of Connection andThe Battle For Your Mind<br />By Thomas Paper<br />For the CIC Conference, October 1-2, 2009<br />10/1/2009<br />2<br />The Decline of News<br />WebsterPacific<br />
    3. 3. The Decline of News<br />What’s going on?<br />TRANSFORMATION<br />DESTRUCTION OF DEFINITIONS<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />3<br />
    4. 4. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />4<br />Source: , Morgan Stanley, IAB<br />
    5. 5. Data360 BACN<br />
    6. 6. TV and Online News<br />10/1/2009<br />6<br />The Decline of News<br />
    7. 7. Who’s Killing The Media?<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />7<br />
    8. 8. W – W – W – W – W<br />The lead<br />The pyramid<br />Definitions Are Changing<br />Traditional Journalism<br />New “Journalism”<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />8<br />Political<br />Sensational<br />Single-issue<br />“What gave newspapers their value was the mission and promise of journalism – the hope that someone was getting paid to wade into the daily tide of manure, sort through the deliberate lies and cunning half-truths, and tell a story straight.”<br /> Mark Bowden<br /> The Atlantic, October 2009<br />
    9. 9. What is news?What is journalism?No one knows….What do we know?<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />9<br />
    10. 10. Information (news) is like food.<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />10<br />
    11. 11. Information (media) is like food.<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />11<br />We’re being fed junk.<br />
    12. 12. “We don’t have information overload; we have filter failure.”<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />12<br />Clay Shirky<br />“Cognitive Surplus”<br />
    13. 13. Need to Filter!<br />Basic Choice<br />Newspaper (also web)<br />TV news (also web)<br />Magazines (also web)<br />Blogs<br />Phone / PDA<br />Text Message<br />Email <br />Social networks<br />Filtered Choice<br />Email alerts<br />Hyper-local news<br />Tweetdeck/retweets<br />NYT most-emailed<br />Blog discussion threads<br />Groups on social networks<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />13<br />
    14. 14. The Rise of Connection<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />14<br />
    15. 15. How Big is The Web?<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />15<br />Source:<br />
    16. 16. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />16<br />What’s the limit? &gt;&gt;&gt; “Dunbar’s Number”<br />Source: Dave McClure<br />
    17. 17. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />17<br /><br />
    18. 18. Social Networks Overtake Porn<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />18<br />
    19. 19. Connections are like food.<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />19<br />We’re being fed junk.<br />
    20. 20. The Science of Networks Can Help<br />Networks is any system of:<br />nodes<br />links<br />hubs<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />20<br />
    21. 21. Two Kinds Of Networks<br />Random Networks<br />Scale-Free Networks<br />Links Made Randomly<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />21<br /><ul><li>Links Made Based Upon “Preferential Attachment”
    22. 22. Believed to explain social networks and the world wide web</li></li></ul><li>10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />22<br />
    23. 23. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />23<br />
    24. 24. Band Together!<br />Connect sites & relationships<br />Common & Connected indicators<br />Common brand<br />Greater attention and mindshare<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />24<br />
    25. 25. The Battle For Your Mind<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />25<br />
    26. 26. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />26<br />
    27. 27. Competing for Mindshare<br />Work, Church & School<br />Family, friends & community<br />Sports & hobbies<br />Television & Radio<br />Newspapers & Magazines<br />
    28. 28. Competing for Mindshare<br />Data Democratization<br />Community Indicators<br />Internet, blogs & email<br />Brands & advertising<br />
    29. 29. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />29<br />We’re competing with junk.<br />
    30. 30. Be Creative!<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />30<br />Stories <br />References<br />Bottom up<br />
    31. 31. Stories &gt; Data<br />Carnegie Mellon University <br />Save the Children <br />$1.14 vs. $2.38<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />31<br />
    32. 32. Movie Popcorn<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />32<br />The Washington post media critic Howard Kurtz has described how the Center for Science in the Public Interest created a public furor over saturated fat in movie theater popcorn. The CSPI “carefully stage-managed the news,” Kurtz wrote (1994), by…holding a news conference that featured “colorful visuals” and “tantalizing sound bites.”<br />
    33. 33. Emotion & Data<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />33<br />Data<br />Emotion<br />
    34. 34. References &gt; Promotions<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />34<br />What customer surveying question leads to “long-term profitable growth?”<br />
    35. 35. 10/1/2009<br />#Promoters - #Detractors<br />Net Promoter Score (NPS) = <br />(#Promoters + #Detractors) x 100<br />The Ultimate Question<br />“How likely is it that you would recommend Company X to a friend or colleague?”<br />Not at all likely<br />Extremely likely<br />9<br />10<br />8<br />7<br />6<br />5<br />4<br />3<br />2<br />1<br />0<br />Promoter<br />Detractor<br />Passive<br />35<br />The Decline of News<br />
    36. 36. 10/1/2009<br />Example: NPS for Schools<br />36<br />The Decline of News<br />
    37. 37. NPS For Communities?<br />How likely are you to recommend YOUR CITY to a friend or colleague?<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />37<br />
    38. 38. Bottom up &gt; Top down<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />38<br />
    39. 39. Types of “New Media”<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />39<br />
    40. 40. Volunteers & Ratings<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />40<br />
    41. 41. What Data360 is Doing<br />A Wiki for data – <br />open source – non-profit - free<br />Common/shared database – collaborative<br />Conversational<br />Editors & visitors<br />Dynamic<br />10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />41<br />
    42. 42. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />42<br />Name of editor(s)<br />Editor comments.<br />Graphs connected to shared database. <br />Comparable to data from other sources.<br />Text box for free-form comments.<br />Sources<br />Comments from visitors.<br />
    43. 43. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />43<br />Dynamic Graphing on Data360<br />
    44. 44. 10/1/2009<br />The Decline of News<br />44<br />1.<br />2.<br />3.<br />There’s a battle for our minds.<br />News is declining.<br />Connection is rising. <br />We’re fightingjunk.<br />We’re being fed junk.<br />We’re being fed junk.<br />Be Creative!<br />Need to Filter!<br />Band Together!<br />