David Kirkpatrick

August 21, 2011

A message for journalists (and marketers)

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Media — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:15 am

The ongoing demise of journalism as a profession in its current form is well-documented. Traditional print outlets are drying up left and right, those still in business are cutting staff, and many online news outlets are mere aggregators and produce little, to no, original content.

What is a j-school grad to do?

One answer is “brand journalism.” Here’s a quick-hit description from a blog post of mine at MarketingSherpa titled, “Content Marketing: Should you lure a journalist over to the ‘dark side?’”:

Defining “brand journalism”

The idea is for companies to hire actual J-school trained journalists and give them free-reign to cover stories that involve topics of interest to the company’s customers and the general space of the business, but not exert any control over the story creation process, and certainly to not require — or even ask — the brand journalist to cover the company’s “story.” The brand journalist is to act as, well, a journalist.

Of course many veterans of copy desks, editorial rooms, city beats and magazine mastheads think of marketing as the “dark side,” and see going to work for a company as joining forces with Darth Vader, the Emperor, and the rest of the gang at the Death Star.

On the other hand, many journalists are in search of work in this tough media economy so there’s a lot of talented people out there to wheezily reach out to with an offer of doing real journalism, just doing it in a different setting.

As you might guess, for brand journalism to work it takes a leap of faith of sorts from two different parties. One, the brand journalist coming from a traditional media background is likely going to be very skeptical of going corporate.

And just as importantly, it requires some deft internal politicking from the marketing department to convince the C-suite one of the best content marketing moves is to hire a journalist and essentially give them total editorial control over what they produce.

Why journalists?

Here is noted marketing author and speaker, David Meerman Scott, on why journalist are best suited for this new marketing role:

I’m convinced that those with the traditional skills of marketing, public relations, advertising, and copywriting are not the right people to create brand journalism content. Instead you need the skills of a journalist.

The idea of hiring journalists is a new one at companies, but I think it is essential for success.

Content marketing is increasingly important across the entire function. It’s not enough to pump out the occasional white paper and carefully hone the corporate message. People are more and more looking to companies for general information about the industry, and for links to outside sources of to that information.

Content marketing, particularly utilizing an independent brand journalist, can provide that credibility for companies, and offer meaningful work for an un- or under-employed journalist.

Curious how the term came about? Here’s Susan Solomon in ClickZ:

Have you heard the buzz about “brand journalism”? The term was coined by McDonald’s chief Global marketing officer, Larry Light. Light recently announced Mickey D’s would no longer pursue a singular brand message. Instead, the global giant will tailor its brand communications to niche markets and adapt them to media in which they appear.

“Identifying one brand position, communicating it in a repetitive manner is old-fashioned, out of date, out of touch,” Light says. “Simplistic marketing is marketing suicide.”

Why brand journalism? Because journalism involves telling many facets of a story to diverse groups of people. Face it, gigantic international conglomerates such as McDonald’s have diverse audiences to reach. That’s why the current campaign, “i’m lovin’ it” lends itself well to diversified marketing. McDonald’s can demonstrate how many different target audiences “love” the product in a variety of ways.

November 12, 2010

Adventures in bad writing

Filed under: et.al., Media — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:43 pm

Hate to pick on an otherwise fine article, but this really stuck out: “For security reasons, never leave your laptop unsecured.”

And for daily nutrition reasons, always take in daily nutrition.

Makes you wonder where the editor was at Forbes that day.

July 1, 2010

Andrew v. Andrew

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:40 pm

Sullivan versus Breitbart, that is. One is an actual principled journalist with a deep appreciation, and training, for the art bloodless war that is debate. The other is a hack rabble-rouser with an agenda. You decide.

In this much they are both entirely correct — you can’t expect any electronic communication to be “off the record.” Where they differ is whether to respect the journalistic principle of an “off the record” conversation whether it be oral, written or electronic.

(And yes, that opening graf was meant to provocate. I enjoy the work of both men, albeit in different ways at times. For the record they are both a little bit right in this conversation.)

May 11, 2010

The Facebook Effect

No, I’m not the David Kirkpatrick who authored the upcoming book on Facebook — The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World — but if you enjoy social networking, social media, the Facebook experience in general or just interesting tales from the world of business, hit the link and pre-order a copy.

There is some confusion because I do blog fairly often on social media/web 2.0 and occasionally blog about Facebook specifically, and I’ve been a professional freelance writer for many years. The David Kirkpatrick who wrote “The Facebook Effect” has most recently been a senior editor at Fortune magazine, and to add just a little more murk into the mix there’s yet another David Kirkpatrick who’s a reporter for the New York Times. Most recently that David Kirkpatrick served as the Washington DC correspondent and I understand he is to transfer to the Cairo bureau sometime soon.

So there you go. Do continue to enjoy this blog, pick up a copy of “The Facebook Effect” by one of the other David Kirkpatrick’s out there and keep on reading yet another in the NYT.

February 4, 2010

Blogging is now a mature discipline …

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:20 pm

… and it seems to be for, and about, mature people in the age of texting and Twitter. Looks like blogging is too long-form for youthful expression and communication.

Wonder what that says about serious long-form journalism, novels and feature-length cinema? Maybe short-short fiction will become a hot commodity. That’s a format I’ve deeply explored.

From the first link:

A new study has found that young people are losing interest in long-form blogging, as their communication habits have become increasingly brief, and mobile. Tech experts say it doesn’t mean blogging is going away. Rather, it’s gone the way of the telephone and e-mail — still useful, just not sexy.

“Remember when ‘You’ve got mail!’ used to produce a moment of enthusiasm and not dread?” asks Danah Boyd, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Now when it comes to blogs, she says, “people focus on using them for what they’re good for and turning to other channels for more exciting things.”

January 29, 2010

According to the Center on Communication Leadership and Policy …

the government is helping kill commercial news media. It couldn’t possibly be years of stagnant practices and an unwillingness to meet the digital era head on when it had the chance years ago. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to add most commercial news media outlets enjoyed, then expected, unsustainable profit margins and had issues facing that reality as well.

The release:

Financial crisis in news: Government financial support of news media continues steep decline

WASHINGTON, January 28, 2010 — Government financial support that has bolstered this country’s commercial news business since its colonial days is in sharp decline and is likely to fall further, according to a report released today by the University of Southern California’s Center on Communication Leadership & Policy. Because these cutbacks are occurring at the height of the digital revolution, they will have an especially powerful impact on a weakened news industry.

Public Policy and Funding the News is a unique effort to begin examining how involved the government, at all levels, has been in subsidizing news throughout American history to foster an informed citizenry; and what this support has meant for publishers, journalists and news consumers. The report analyzes some of the financial tools that government has used to support the press over the years — from postal rate discounts and tax breaks to public notices and government advertising. The report documents cutbacks across a range of sectors and presents a framework for the consideration of policy options to place the industry on more secure financial footing.

“It is a common myth that the commercial press in the United States is independent of governmental funding support,” says Geoffrey Cowan who co-authored the report and is USC Annenberg School dean emeritus and director of the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP). “There has never been a time in U.S. history when government dollars were not helping to undergird the news business to ensure that healthy journalism is sustained across the country.”

“Certainly, the U.S. has never supported news-gathering the way some European and Asian countries have,” said David Westphal, report co-author, former Washington Editor for McClatchy, current CCLP senior fellow and USC Annenberg executive-in-residence. “The point here is that it’s time all of us, outside and inside the industry, realize that tax dollars support the American news business, and those dollars, which throughout our history have been critical in keeping the news media alive, are now shrinking quickly.”

The late 1960s marked a high-water mark of government support for the news business. The postal service was subsidizing about 75% of the mailing costs for newspapers and magazines, roughly $2 billion in today’s dollars. Today, however, publishers’ mailing discounts for their printed news products are down to 11% or $288 million.

Paid public notices, government-required announcements that give citizens information about important activities, have also been lucrative for newspaper publishers, providing hundreds of millions in revenue to publications ranging from local dailies and weeklies to national newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal.

For example, in a four-week study, researchers found that the government was responsible for the most purchases, by column inches, of ad space in the Journal. And the newspaper wants more: in 2009 they battled Virginia-area papers in a move to get their regional edition certified to print local legal notices.

This public notice income is especially important to weekly and other community newspapers, accounting, in 2000, for 5 to 10 percent of all revenue. But now, proposals are pending in 40 states to allow agencies to shift publication to the Web.

Tax breaks given to news publishers are likely to decline because many are tied to expenditures on paper and ink and cash-strapped states are seeking to find new sources of revenue. Federal and state tax laws forgive more than $900 million annually for newspapers and news magazines, with most of the money coming at the state level.

Some additional excerpts:

  • In 2009, federal, state and local governments spent well over $1 billion to support commercial news publishers
  • The cumulative effect of reducing these government subsidies is not the primary problem afflicting the news business today. At most, government assistance has dropped by a few billion while newspapers alone have lost more than $20 billion in revenue in the last three years. Yet, government support represents a critical element of economic survival.
  • Policymakers cannot afford to be mere spectators while these changes flash by. American government does not work very well if citizens do not have a reliable supply of news and information. What is playing out in the news business is a vital national interest

Public Policy and Funding the News offers a framework to pursue options currently under consideration, including 1) Allowing newspapers to become non-profits; 2) Tax credits for taxpayers who subscribe to newspapers; 3) Expanded federal investment in digital technology and infrastructure, including broadband access; 4) An antitrust law timeout to allow publishers to form a common strategy; and 5)Significant new government funding for public radio and public television.

As policymakers debate these and other proposals, Cowan and Westphal offer the following principles:

  • First and foremost, do no harm. A cycle of powerful innovation is under way. To the extent possible, government should avoid retarding the emergence of new models of newsgathering.
  • Second, the government should help promote innovation, as it did when the Department of Defense funded the research that created the Internet or when NASA funded the creation of satellites that made cable TV and direct radio and TV possible.
  • Third, for commercial media, government-supported mechanisms that are content-neutral – such as copyright protections, postal subsidies and taxes – are preferable to those that call upon the government to fund specific news outlets, publications or programs.

“We live in an era of profound technological change that threatens many forms of news media. We do not favor government policies that keep dying media alive. But we do believe government can help to provide support during this period of transition,” says Westphal.

###

A complete copy of the report is available online at http://fundingthenews.org/. The website also features supplemental research papers on eight specific areas: postal rate subsidies, tax policy, broadband expansion, international broadcasting, government funding of public broadcasting, public notice requirements, copyright laws and antitrust regulations. In addition, the authors have collected an online directory of proposals for government intervention and links to public hearings and other activities on these issues.

About the Center on Communication Leadership and Policy

Based at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, the Center on Communication Leadership and Policy conducts research and organizes courses, programs, seminars and symposia for scholars, students, policymakers and working professionals to prepare future leaders in journalism, communication and other related fields. CCLP focuses its activities in two areas: 1) The Role of Media in Democracy and 2) Communication Leadership. Current projects include: Public Policy and the Future of News; New Models for News; The Constitution and the Press; Media and Political Discourse; Children’s Media and Ethics; Women and Communication Leadership; and Photographic Empowerment.

October 9, 2009

Wikileaks looking to ramp up the leakage

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:55 pm

An interesting idea, but the potential for abuse and outright fraud are enormous with anonymous, over-the-net whistle blowing. As a responsible journalist you’d either want to be able to independently verity who is providing the leak, or a least have a source willing to do so.

Now if this type of leak is used to jump-start an investigative journalism piece, and not used as the primary source material I can see real utility and the potential to shed light into a few more shady corners out there.

I’d also say Wilileaks is really going out there on a limb with its involvement with the verification process coupled with privacy and legal protection. But still, a very interesting idea.

From the link:

Wikileaks.org, the online clearinghouse for leaked documents, is working on a plan to make the Web leakier by enabling newspapers, human rights organizations, criminal investigators and others to embed an “upload a disclosure to me via Wikileaks” form onto their Web sites.

The upload system will give potential whistleblowers around the world the ability to leak sensitive documents to an organization or journalist they trust over a secure connection, while giving the receiver legal protection they might not otherwise enjoy.

“We will take the burden of protecting the source and the legal risks associated with publishing the document,” said Julien Assange, an advisory board member at Wikileaks, in an interview at the Hack In The Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Click here to find out more!

Once Wikileaks confirms the uploaded material is real, it will be handed over to the Web site that encouraged the submission for a period of time. This embargo period gives the journalist or rights group time to write a news story or report based on the material.

June 15, 2009

This revolution is not televised

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:51 pm

I’m going to assume the televised media will eventually pick up the ball on the ongoing situation in Iran. It’s only the most important geopolitical story out there. Thirty years after deposing the Shah, Iranians are rejecting both a sham election and the corrupt Islamic leadership.

Of course if you want any serious coverage of the Iranian green revolution you need to hit the BBC, the blogosphere, NYT’s website or Twitter. For the most part mainstream media is proving its irrelevancy once again. The Sunday edition of my local paper had exactly zero mention of Iran on its front page. Sadly I can’t type “unbelievable” because utter crap has become par for the course.

Hit the link for a Twitter #iranelection hashtag search.

May 12, 2009

Dan Baum on the New Yorker

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:56 pm

Well, really on his time at the New Yorker. It’s a very cool tale and worth the read.

Oh, by the way he published it (at least initially) on Twitter. Fun idea, interesting use of Twitter and worth the time and difficulty to go back in Twitter time and read the whole thing.

Here’s a tweet from Dan for those who are a bit too lazy to read this in its original (and maybe original ought to be highlighted here) form:

I will be posting this account, in proper order, at www.danbaum.com. Thank you for your patience.

You can find Dan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/danielsbaum and you can find at http://twitter.com/davidkonline.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

March 20, 2009

Tweeting styles

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:54 pm

This article outlines the 14 types of Twitter personalities. A fun — and really pretty insightful — read.

You can find on Twitter at http://twitter.com/davidkonline.

From the link — I think my tweets fall under this rubric even though I rarely do actual journalism these days:

The Journalist

There are live journalists tweeting their findings to the world. There are citizen journalists breaking the news happening in front of them. There are bloggers posting more than just their posts; they post their thoughts on other issues and websites as well.

The Journalist is the Twitter personality that is getting almost as much attention as the celebrities joining twitter. It is as a collective more than as individuals that they are turning Twitter into the place to find and share what is happening in the world as it’s happening.  Hundreds of stories have been written about the Twitter army being on the scene first at major events, tweeting pictures before camera crews at local television stations can find the keys to their van.

Tweeting Style:

Unlike traditional journalism, the rulebook is thrown out the window with Twitter Journalism. Time is everything – breaking news breaks fast on Twitter, opinions can go stale and must be concise, and links fall to obscurity if nobody with a lot of followers tweets or retweets it.  Twitter is changing the face of journalism more than any website in history.

(Hat tip: techhie via a retweet from zaibatsu)

March 1, 2008

Lede and graf

Filed under: et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:04 am

With the advent of blogs and such, most readers likely know the definition of “lede” and “graf.” I use both occasionally and offer this post as an explanation for anyone who might not know.

Lede is simply an alternate spelling of lead, as in “Obama’s leading the race.” It’s a journalism term that specifically refers to the opening graf or so of a story. In newspaper reporting a well-written piece should hit the reader immediately with all the important details and tail off to the least important. That means all a reader needs to read to understand the story is the lede.

Extra factoid — newspaper writing is constructed this way because the bottom of the story might be physically chopped off at any point to make the story fit the page. As long as the details — who, where, why, how, etc. — are in the opening several sentences, the story can lose a few inches without losing any of the “story.”

Graf is very simple. It’s just a shortened version of paragraph.

At one point in time you probably needed to have gone to j-school, or worked as a journalist, to have any familiarity with the terms. Especially lede. Nowadays many bloggers fit one, or both, of the above qualifications and regularly use both words.

Hell, the New York Times calls its blog “The Lede.” 

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