NYT’s Digital Report is BAD NEWS.

With consideration to how much the leaked New York Times Innovations report was instantly lauded, even though this is a losing battle, I want to go on record.   This is nothing more than a continuation of the con game Silly-con Valley and Silly-con Alley have been playing since Web 1.0.   The underlining premise is: They deserve your actual work for free and they are entitled to make as much money off of it as possible (and you need to say thank you on your way out of business).  It’s the beginning of every idea involving users I hear walking the streets of SOMA and passing the line at Shake Shack in Madison Square park (I would never actually stand in that line, Shake Shack is crap).

These tech companies do nothing to contribute to actual original content production.  They do destroy good businesses left and right where people actually make things and it leaves most of us behind in our shutdown economy while most of them keep using our money to get more.

The New York Times is the Alamo

There’s nothing new about this cycle.  An old guard place is scared about the changing world and instead of fighting it, they allow the enemy to come in and tell them how to sell out more.  Social media LOVES these stories.  Faux reporters latch onto more blood in the water—followed by quotes from pseudo academics that may never have written a serious piece of journalism in their lives (Jeff Jarvis—we should all be Google—I think that should fall under your JEERS category in a 1987 TV GUIDE?  How much did they pay you directly or indirectly?).

At the end of the day, these places get sucked in—they give up their right of control to monetize their own goods and we all lose products of depth, while another place spends more time and money filling out boxes for privately held Facebooks, Twtiters or giving up their wall space to Google or their meta data to the burgeoning, endlessly fraudulent & creepy ad-tech industry.

Now, unfortunately, this wave of bullshit has reached all the way to the New York Times–the last {news} stand.  In the ‘future’ we give it all away for free & have a conversation with our audience (generates more ‘engagement’).  What’s left to go?  The AP?   After the New York Times falls to this crap, name one daily, editorial American institution that covers the world first and not clicks?

I’m 34 years old.  I have won an Emmy & a Peabody, but I’m just beginning to turn grey-I started a successful tech company.  I’m not a luddite.  I worked at ABC News before Peter died and Ted left, Current TV(which paid our journalists), Obama 08’ where many said we won on digital, and I have my own digital agency where we’ve helped the US Congress to get with the times.  I don’t support hunkering down in the past—I do support common sense.  Don’t give up the store.

Tech Companies Provide Empty Strip Malls

Social media companies produce nothing original. We provide everything from our family photos, our best thoughts and ideas and of course our digital footprint.  We have to stop thinking they are doing us a favor for giving us a place to put our best things and start thinking about them for the empty strip malls that they are without us (some of us remember what friendster/myspace was like after we left).  We need to start considering ALL of our work to be of VALUE.

These same DIGITAL EXPERTS that applauded and cheered this report, hated the NYT’s Paywall, which has provided serious and sensible revenue to the New York Times without prohibiting too much access.   There are plenty of ways to take in more revenue without succumbing to temptations of trend chasing–which honestly is ALL THIS REPORT IS.

[Arrested] Audience Development

Here are some IDEAS:

1- FIGHT SEARCH -> original content from better sources should surface higher on search reports.  Aggregators are nice, but if they use gimmicks, they should not be rewarded by algorythyms.  They presently are because places like Google and Facebook need clicks and they don’t care how—its all the same to them.  Porn, your arrest report, cat falling off the TV and someone who risked their life to get you a report from Syria & the assholes who copied that report in FULL—all paid the same.  They need to be help to account for this practice.  NOT ALL CLICKS are the same.

2- KICK OUT AD TECH -> Publishers should take better control if their inventory like they did before ad tech came along and stole their money.  There’s a reason GOOGLE is richer than several countries and the NYTs is worried about tipping over.  Its not because people don’t like what the NYT’s has.  Its because they outsourced their ability to monetize it.  This would be like someone coming into a Dennys and telling them because it’s the future, they can no longer operate their own register, we’ll handle that for you and pay you whatever the hell we feel like.  Sound dumb?  Publishers CONTINUE to take this deal and its absolutely killing them.

3- HIRE KIDS TO FILL IN BOXES -> If you have to fill in the boxes for these social media assholes and it appears as though you do – hire cheap kids out of school to do this work—lets face it, this is really ALL most millennials want to do all day anyway—let them have it!  Who knows, maybe some day one of them might become someone who cares about the external world through association and start going outside and asking people questions.   No serious publication should divert actual journalists to filling in boxes for these for-profit companies, to the detriment of their product.  Its corporate welfare for some of the biggest companies we have—when you’re the one whose poor & in need.  They don’t lift a finger to help you as they pass you by at 80 in their Tesla fueled by your money.

4- THEY STOLE, OK.  YOU STEAL TOO, BUT TAKE IT ALL -> I recently read that CNN claims they were able to break the Veterans Administration scandal because the missing plane story gave their investigative team some time to work on it.  This is a good point.  So your competitors like Gawker are stealing your stories FLAT OUT?  Steal theirs—all of ‘em!  The Huffington Post cheats and has better SEO– Start a NYT aggregator—use the traffic position you have to make YOUR fraud machine BIGGER than theirs.   The new competitors VOX(?) and whatever — they are running on investment & PR fumes(you’re helping to fan).  We’ve seen this story before, they may work out well, but will they build an international reporting structure that catches NON popular stories that we need to know like ones about collateralized debt obligations before they BECOME big ones.  No.  Probably not—‘enterprise reporting’, as we used to call it but actually MEAN IT, doesn’t necessarily drive hits! (ask the widely-successful Politico if they have ever broken a story from anyone other than anonymous source—STEAL all their STORIES TOO!  Mark them as sketchy if you’re worried, but wholesale TAKE THEM).   Use THEIR CRAP & GUTTER TACTICS to pay the bills (and destroy them for the pricks that they are), to pay your real people to do real work.

 

YES– Journalism REEKS Elitist

Hiring practices at places of journalism used to be incredibly corrupt and in many cases still is.  Lets face it– one of the writers of this report is a Sulzburger—his daddy owns the paper.  Most journalists are told to work their way up from small papers or go to war zones.  There was the Triumvirate.. the 3 Ws– Washington, War, & and some place out West.   I doubt Sulzberger’s spent much time in Toledo.

Nonetheless, I feel a lot of people have confused this outrage– which actually has gotten significantly better over the last decade as salaries have plummeted — with the idea that journalism needs to be done for free and that we need tremendous access to the people who write our journalism.  That for some reason they need to hear OUR opinions in order to craft stories.  This is not true.  Good journalism takes a ton of time, and there are certain sources worth cultivating for the good of the many.  The comments section on an article or on Facebook is really never one of them– sorry.

 

What is Church and State–why do we want it? 

Since the practice of real honest journalism has gone the way of painting– let me dust off the concept of why YOU REALLY WANT the business office to be separate of the people writing your journalism.

Here’s one point– popular journalism is not necessarily informative–often its NOT.  Do the cable talkers ever report anything new?  The ‘petty at best, absolutely asinine more often’, Politico is insanely popular in DC, playing off everyone’s hunger for the demise of the powerful person above them.  BUT, is their scorecard and constant controversia helping you to better understand how our government works?  No.  In fact, do they cover Congress—I mean like what’s IN the bills instead of who may WIN or LOSE on them?  Does anybody?

We need MORE places that focus on traditional beat reporting.  Its unsexy until its not—it takes more time, but its how journalism is actually done.  Beat reporting is the only thing that holds up against a powerful government or a rich corporation that says what you’re reporting is wrong.  It’s the only thing that can give you the confidence to say they’re bullshit and report the truth anyways.  Business people are never going to be into sort of game, it makes huge profits when you get it going, but before that, it’s a scary ride.  All risk, hard work and time.

 

Money Makes People Say Anything

Beyond that quality argument, this seems basic, but somehow it isn’t anymore: Journalists aren’t supposed to accept money for stories!  YES–sorry, yes even you TECH COMMUNITY, and native ‘CON-tent’ artists– you get what you pay for after a certain period of time.  Or at least we all do.  When advertising gets into journalism, it ceases to be honest—its just whatever!!(omga voice implied).  This is happening all over the country out of desperation– and again, what’s sad here is why are we so quick to destroy what’s good and honest about journalism instead of fighting the people and places who are stealing our business from us?

 

Journalists Are Still High-minded Assholes.

I pitty the fool who has to take a road trip with a journalist.  We’re self important.  We never shut up. We don’t play along.  Its part of the reason people hate journalists, but not all(the worst ones always trying to blow open the next Watergate is probably a larger reason and those people should be investigated themselves—quality journalism is about writing the FIRST CHAPTER of HISTORY not ‘gates’).

Until I joined the Obama campaign and ostensibly, in my opinion and those I consider honest, surrendered my objectivity, I had very few friends.  Girls didn’t like me.  I had my journalism.  I would give everyone a fair hearing no matter who they were—and I honestly would.  I was in the business to get to see things in person for myself and have a different, unpredictable day ahead of me every single morning– I liked getting paid to write down what I saw for other people, in a fair and honest way.   My agenda was not to have one.  I loved it– I was lonely, but I didn’t care.  I had ‘the calling.’

I’ve always said the worst dinner party to ever be at is one with a bunch of journalists.   They all want to talk and talk and talk, no one’s listening– its depressing.

Advertising parties are much better.  Those people look better, dress better, have better food– don’t really talk about much but at the end of the day probably have better lives.  Political parties– they have each other– even if they aren’t very attractive places or their conversations are always one-sided — they have each other.   Journalists don’t have any of that.  We all hate each other.  And that’s the way it should be– or the way it used to be.

 

Please Fight. 

Mr. Sulzberger.  Burn the NYT Digital Innovations Report.  Grow a pair and defend one of the last outposts we all have left.   I don’t know if this is one of the reasons why you fired your editor — the timing of this leak can’t be a coincidence, but you guys know you can pay your bills.  Sure, you’ve got problems– but don’t let them take your store.

SOURCES: http://mashable.com/2014/05/16/full-new-york-times-innovation-report/

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