The Clip Report Volume 1


Published on

It’s easy to forget but back in 2008 a lot of people were declaring that the media as we know it was dead - or dying. In fact, one enterprising Twitter user, Paul Armstrong, set up a special account (@themediaisdying) to chronicle the press’ alleged death spiral. Today it has nearly 25,000 followers.

Yet, a funny thing happened on the way to the funeral. The media, faced with the threat of extinction, used sheer will and innovation to turn things around. Today the fourth estate is arguably stronger than ever. This even as the global economy sputters.

Consider TV. The networks have all aggressively deployed an armada of “second screen” experiences for tablets and smart phones. These apps, which curate Twitter and Facebook streams in a single place, are encouraging live tune in by essentially creating a social show around the show.

They’re not alone. Stalwart newspapers like The Guardian and The Washington Post have created immersive news experiences inside Facebook. They’re even syndicating full text stories inside the social juggernaut.

The bet as paid off. In just two months since these social news platforms were unveiled The Guardian said it saw site traffic increase by more than a million page views a month. The Post, not to be outdone, has seen a sharp uptick in news readers under 35. And Yahoo is expanding their Facebook integration to many more properties.

Finally, blog-based upstarts like the Huffington Post, Politico and Engadget, all of which pioneered the use of short-form, rapid fire posts, are now expanding into long form content. This includes ebooks and tablet magazines.

There are countless other examples. The media is back in a big way. And this is having a significant impact on how businesses synchronize and prioritize where, when and how they tell their stories. This process, to borrow a term from Hollywood, is often called "transmedia storytelling."

Curious about the media’s reincarnation, in 2011 I set out on a journey to learn more. I visited media executives and reporters, technology vendors and social networks - all in a quest to identify some common best practices. Five new "rules" emerged.

In this scrapbook I share what I learned.

Published in: Technology, Business
No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Clip Report Volume 1

  1. Insights on the Future of MediaBy Steve Rubel, EVP, Edelman Volume I - January 2012
  2. IntroductionIt’s easy to forget but back in 2008 a lot of people weredeclaring that the media as we know it was dead - or dying.In fact, one enterprising Twitter user, Paul Armstrong, set upa special account (@themediaisdying) to chronicle the press’alleged death spiral. Today it has nearly 25,000 followers.Yet, a funny thing happened on the way to the funeral. Themedia, faced with the threat of extinction, used sheer will andinnovation to turn things around. Today the fourth estate isarguably stronger than ever. This even as the global economysputters.Consider TV. The networks have all aggressively deployed anarmada of “second screen” experiences for tablets and smartphones. These apps, which curate Twitter and Facebookstreams in a single place, are encouraging live tune in byessentially creating a social show around the show.They’re not alone. Stalwart newspapers like The Guardian andThe Washington Post have created immersive news experiencesinside Facebook. They’re even syndicating full text storiesinside the social juggernaut.The bet has paid off. In just two months since these socialnews platforms were unveiled The Guardian said it saw sitetraffic increase by more than a million page views a month.The Post, not to be outdone, has seen a sharp uptick in newsreaders under 35. And Yahoo is expanding their Facebookintegration to many more properties. @themediaisdying on Twitter (top), Get Glue social badges for TV shows (bottom) 2
  3. Finally, blog-based upstarts like the Huffington Post, Politico andEngadget, all of which pioneered the use of short-form, rapidfire posts, are now expanding into long form content. Thisincludes ebooks and tablet magazines.There are countless other examples. The media is back in abig way. And this is having a significant impact on howbusinesses synchronize and prioritize where, when and howthey tell their stories. This process, to borrow a term fromHollywood, is often called "transmedia storytelling."Curious about the media’s reincarnation, in 2011 I set out ona journey to learn more. I visited media executives andreporters, technology vendors and social networks - all in aquest to identify some common best practices. Five new"rules" emerged.In this scrapbook I share what I learned. ### 3
  4. I - Curate to DominateMy journey to dissect a re-invigorated media began with JimBankoff - CEO of Vox Media. When we met for coffee lastspring Vox was operating one site: the highly successful SportsBlog Nation (SBN). Since then it has expanded into tech with anew sister site, The Verge.I didnt know what to expect that warm April day. But what Idiscovered is that vertical curators like SBN may soon play alarger role in how we consume content than many of us mayrealize. This has ramifications for both journalists andcommunicators.Sports is one of the largest and oldest online interest verticals.The category is dominated by large brands - sites and Yahoo Sports, which rose to prominenceduring the 1990s.Suddenly, however, the edges are fraying. First, athletes andteams are becoming their own media channels. Beyond that,new curators are moving in and disrupting the business. SBN,for example, rolls up the best independent blog voicescovering individual teams into a carefully curated network.The Bleacher Report, meanwhile, takes a more open, crowd- Jim Bansourced approach. Today its the 12th largest sports site, koff, Vox Mediaaccording to comScore.Both SBN and Bleacher Report are demonstrating that theres ahuge opportunity for new media brands to emerge that focuson separating art from junk. This is all a result of too muchcontent and not enough time. 4
  5. Sports media, however, is filled with analysis - an editorial asset that is always in high demand. But what about breaking news, which is more of a commodity these days? Can a curator win in news too? According to the 3.3 million people who follow the MSNBC- owned @breakingnews account on Twitter - the sub-140- character answer is "yes." Thats where we pick up the story. To learn more, I sought out fellow Hofstra University alum Lauren McCullough. She recently joined @breakingnews from AP as a Senior Editor. I was surprised to hear from Lauren just how much MSNBC has bolstered the Breaking News brand, which it acquired from an enterprising Twitter user a couple of years back. MSNBC has turned it into a 24/7 news operation that curates links faster than anyone else. In addition to its substantial Twitter footprint, MSNBC has pushed the brand aggressively into Facebook, Google+ and via its own web site ( and mobile apps. The @breakingnews team aims to find and credit the original source of a story. This can be difficult. So the team has set up a way for other reporters to tip them when they have a scoop via a simple hashtag. This also gives the source additional exposure for their stories. Curation, I learned, doesnt need to be a business. It can be aLauren M feature too. cCullough, M SNBC 5
  6. One of the notable trends to emerge in the last couple of Curation is a buzzword these days - so its murky still what itsyears is that journalists are finding meaningful content roles true potential may be. On the one hand, an emerging group ofbeyond the media. In 2010, the BBCs Richard Sambrook, curators like Flipboard, MediaGazer and TechMeme arefor example, joined Edelman (my employer) as our Chief successfully mixing human and social algorithmic editors.Content Officer. Hes not alone. Facebook hired Columbia Former Time Inc. journalist Josh Quittner joined Flipboard asJournalism School grad and wunderkind reporter Vadim its editor. Techmeme and MediaGazer too have editors.Lavrusik to help journalists use the platform to engage theiraudiences. Tumblr earlier had hired Mark Coatney from On the other hand, Staci Kramer, editor of,Newsweek for the same purpose. helped me see that theres a difference between curation (editorializing) and aggregation (compiling) - which is what someAnother individual in a similar role is Daniel Roth, who last of these sites do.year joined LinkedIn as its Executive Editor. But what makesRoth unique, as I discovered when we met for coffee last Still, whats clear is that a new layer is emerging where humans,November at New Yorks Ace Hotel, is that he is a curator. specifically editors, help us separate art from junk in the vast sea of digital content. And this will be a recurring trend in the yearsLinkedIn Today - the networks news platform and Roths ahead.focus - is quickly becoming a go-to source for business newsacross many of key verticals. Need proof ? Consider that ###LinkedIn is routinely one of the top sources of traffic to biznews sites. LinkedIns Roth (L), Tumblrs Coatney (M) and Facebooks Lavrusik (R). 6
  7. II - Data Mine and TimeMath: I dont know about you, but for me its a four-letterword. I had always suspected the same truism heldthroughout the journalism world. After all, the field is filledwith liberal arts graduates. However, thats not what Idiscovered. It turns out that quite a lot of what we see in themedia today is at least shaped by data mining and timing.Lurking behind the scenes at many media companies is anemerging field of data journalists. This group not only knowshow to mine the numbers, but also how to turn them intodata-driven insights that influence (but dont dictate) editorialdecisions.Drake Martinet, Associate Editor at Dow Jones All Things Dtech site, is basically a real-life version of the Robert Redfordcharacter in The Horse Whisperer - except with data. He poursover mountains of information and provides actionableinsights to colleagues. The key, Martinet says, is to speak inverbs, not nouns.Timing, meanwhile, is the name of the game at the HuffingtonPost - now part of AOL. The site has a traffic and trendsteam, I learned during my visit there, that spots topics thatare hot on social networks and search engines and then writesstories about those it deems newsworthy. This not only leadsto solid reporting, but also a pretty good way to capturerelevant inbound traffic too. 7
  8. The HuffPo is not alone in using data to inform their timing. All of this may soon become more automated. AlreadySeveral media brands, including the Economist, are working technology is becoming mature enough where machines canwith SocialFlow to more effectively optimize when their actually write more formulaic stories with little or no humanheadlines are seeded into Twitter. The Business Insider, involvement. This includes filing post-game wrap-ups andmeanwhile, uses Newsbeat to dig through their data and earnings reports. According to The New York Times, a startupmake much of it public via their Engage-o-Meter. called Narrative Science has partnered with The Big Ten Network to do just that.Although I havent polled media companies directly, Isuspect most prefer to keep these strategies close to the vest. Machines will never replace humans. However, journalism isHowever, the above examples show that increasingly being increasingly shaped by machineseditorial decisions are being at least guided by data, even asnews still rules. ###Its also worth noting that there are other startups emergingthat are arming the media with technology that enables it tounearth such insights.One such company is Storyful, which is stacked withrefugees from the news business and advisors like JoeWebster, who like McCullough, also worked at the AP.Storyful (not to be confused with Storify) filters throughthousands of tweets to find primary sources who are close tobig, newsy topics. This includes on-the-ground sources ininhospitable places and also third party experts closer tohome.Storyful, Webster shared with me when we met in October,saves journalists time by rolling up sources into privateTwitter lists. The end result is that the start-ups media Storyful (above) and itscustomers are not only more informed about they news they evangelist, Joe Webstercover, but they are faster at it too. (below) 8
  9. III - Keep Stories Alive One of the notable ways that the media has evolved in the last several years is in how it has been forced to adjust to the new economics of attention. It has arguably adapted more quickly than some corporations. The universal truth is that quality content is no longer scarce. Its abundant. The publics time and appetite for information, however, remains somewhat finite. Therefore every media brand is facing increased competition for the same eyeballs. This has spawned a massive and escalating war for page views. This is where we pickup the story. What I discovered last yearScoble (L) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. is that attention warfare weapons today go way beyond obvious devices like information graphics, slideshows and "listicles." Some media brands, it seems, are going to great lengths to keep their stories alive longer than others. Seeking answers, in October I hit up one of the wisest people I know: Robert Scoble - a leading tech influencer and Rackspaces corporate storyteller. His advice to me was to keep an eye on "verbs." A few days prior to our breakfast Facebook had unveiled a new way for major media companies to build social news experiences on their platform. Whats notable is that these send a cascade of social actions to the newsfeed - verbs that go beyond "like" to include "read," "watch" and "listen." Scobles view, which I questioned then, was that this move would dramatically re-shape how we discover content. 9
  10. Scoble shoots 50% from the tech pundit free-throw line. Thistime he maybe right.Facebook late last year revealed that the media companiesthat jumped into create social news experiences actually sawa dramatic increase in readers... to their web sites. TheGuardian is recording an additional one million page viewsper month. The Washington Post, meanwhile, has seen an influxin coveted under-35 readers. And Yahoo is getting so muchnew traffic from Facebook that they expanded theirrelationship to dozens more sites.Social networks are a media engagement elixir. This is truefor once-static magazines too.A few weeks later at Mashable Media Conference I learnedhow TV Guide has turned its tablet apps into a personalized,live social water cooler for more than 5 million people. These Buddy Media CEO M ichael Lazerow (above).apps are sometimes called "second screen" experiences. Theyare meant to be used while watching TV.At the same conference, Michael Lazerow, CEO of BuddyMedia, revealed how the media companies that add a simplesharing option to common interactions on their web sites(like completing a poll) will cascade "verbs" into Facebook.This directly leads to a 12.98% increase in site traffic.Lazerow has done the math!Add this all up and what I learned is that the media isleveraging the power of social networking to help keep theirstories alive longer. Theyve gone beyond just pumping outlinks to creating fully integrated experiences that arepersonalized through the lens of your friends. ### 10
  11. IV - Roll in the DeepLos Angeles is not widely viewed as the pantheon of deepthought. However, it is where the future of media isincreasingly being defined. Thats where we pick up my questfor knowledge - at USC Annenberg, which I visited twice lastyear.The future of media is not just about short-attention fare liketweets, but also a renaissance in long-form, vertical contenttoo. To quote pop star Adele, the press is "rolling in thedeep."This realization started with Geoff Boucher from the LATimes, who I met at a USC event last spring. Boucher is a 20-plus-year veteran of the paper who once covered a string ofgang murders that rocked the city in the early 1990s. Todayhe is a journalistic hero of sorts; a pioneer.Boucher always had a geek streak running through his veins. Boucher (L) with Steven Spielberg (R)In 2008 he channeled his love for words and wookies toconvince the LA Times to launch Hero Complex - a blog Lets start with the rule-breakers that have transformedcovering the worlds of comic books, graphical novels and journalism over the last five years. The Huffington Post and Politicoscience fiction. The site has been a huge hit. have both launched successful ebooks. Engadget, meanwhile, is taking this a step further with the launch of its own tabletThere are examples of a resurgence in long-form content magazine.everywhere - and not just in places where you would expect. The old guard too is keeping up. After the death of Apple CEO Steve Jobs both Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Fortune repackaged articles from their archives and made them available as paid ebooks on Amazons Kindle platform. 11
  12. Whats more, as people spend more time reading on tablets, sites that help users consume longer fare, such as Instapaper, ReadItLater and Scribd, have all blossomed. These discoveries led me back to school. Specifically, I sought out USCs Dr. Henry Jenkins, who many consider the founding father of "transmedia storytelling." (He first identified the trend back in 2003 while at MIT.) Dr. Jenkins, now an advisor at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, shared how there are now two kinds of content that we engage with in our day. First, theres "spreadable media" - short-attention span content that we snack on. This includes tweets, headlines, status updates and more. Then theres "drill-able media." This is longer form content that provides analysis, depth and context. This format, once the domain of professional content creators, are now more democratic and open to all to create. Dr. Jenkins cites fan- created wikis chronicling the Lost series as an example. Dr. Jenkins believes that the latter group offers what he calls "adaptive comprehension" around what we see spreading across our screens. Most of his research is focused on how pop culture is evolving along these two planes. However, the above examples illustrate, how deep content is undergoing a renaissance. ###USC Annenberg (above) is now home to Dr. HenryJenkins, who first coined the phrase "transmediastorytelling." 12
  13. Bouchers work at the LA Times with Hero Complex is oneV - Covet thy Superstars example but there are many others. ESPN, for example, last year created Grantland - a platform for Bill Simmons and aThe media business has more in common with professional group of writers to further expand their passion for sportsteam sports than many realize. and movies. The New York Times, meanwhile, has allowed writers like Brian Stelter to flourish as "beat hubs" who canMedia brands are like teams. We are loyal to certain ones span platforms. Stelter, acknowledged at the Mashableand, sometimes, despise others that conflict with our Media Conference that having a personal brand lets himworldview. I havent met anyone who loves both MSNBC "punch above his weight." He also showed us a thing or twoand Fox News equally or for that matter the Yankees and the in how to use Tumblr for reporting, which he did in theRed Sox. You cant. Theyre polar opposites. wake of the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes.Columnists and commentators have long resembled The sporting parallels dont end there. For every companyfranchise players who perform well at their craft, help the loyalist like Stelter and Simmons there are countless ofteam win and "fill the seats." They are names like Friedman, others who turn to free agency. This includes the likes ofODowd, Kurtz, Lupica, King and Stern. They pre-date the Michael Arrington (formerly with TechCrunch) and Jimdigital era and are all associated with the teams they play for, Romensko (formerly with Poynter) who left and launchedjust like icons from the sports world - Magic, Jordan, Kobe, new sites.Jeter, Montana, Beckham, Rooney, Brady and Gretzky. The drama over star journalists at times resembles theWhere once only a few journalists could become true hoopla that preceded ESPNs 2010 airing of "The Decision"personal brands (a phrase some despise), what I found in - where NBA superstar Lebron James revealed he wasspending time with the media is that in the digital age things leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. Theare different. Many young reporters come into the business world of tech journalism, in particular, has been rocked byeither with a personal brand or the intent to create one. similar drama. A number of personal brands have venturedThey know that it will not only help them in their careers, out on their own. While others have jumped to new outletsbut also can create massive value for their employers - as like The Verge.measured in traffic. This isnt necessarily a new trend. However, what IThis emerging group, I found, is fearless. They break all the discovered over the course of my conversations withunwritten rules. Yet, they always remain respectful of who different journalists is that everyone now - even the die-hardpays their bills. In exchange, they are increasingly being ink-stained crowd - recognizes they are part of the war forrewarded with room to innovate. page views. They must adapt to be heard. 13
  14. They have lots of help. Many national and even local mediacompanies are now hiring cross-trained reporters who can doit all - report, live blog, tweet and even create videothemselves.Some, like New York Times business reporter Tanzina Vega,bring these skills to their day-to-day beat coverage. Vega lastfall shared with me at a small gathering of journalists thatshe often files video with her stories.Others, like Anjali Mullany at the New York Daily News,remain behind the scenes. She helps reporters at the Newsincorporate live blogging and tweeting into their workflow.Scribes also are getting help from the social networks too.Tumblr and Facebook, as I wrote earlier, both have dedicatedex-journalists on staff. They are equipping individualreporters and entire media organizations to engage audiencesdirectly on these sites.In the digital age, journalism remains true to its core. Brian Stelter’s TuHowever, above it all, hangs the almighty pressure to increase mblr on Joplinpage views. And this is creating more pressure on journaliststo become personal brands. ### 14
  15. CreditsSteve Rubel is EVP, Global Strategy and Insights for Edelman - theworlds largest independent PR firm. In his role, he helps teams andclients understand the future of media and develop integratedstrategies. Rubel shares links and insights on the future of media onTwitter (@steverubel) and via The Clip Report on Tumblr He can be reached at opinions expressed within this ebook are his and do notnecessarily reflect those of Edelman or its clients.)Photo credits: lenahan, jdlasica, theredproject, scobleizer, trainman, mashable,r80o, sambrook, popculturegeek, joi. Icons by graphicnode.