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NYT’s Digital Report is BAD NEWS.

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

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.

toilsomely 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.


Obvious Places have Obvious Faces

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Part one in a long series on Obvious Faces and their Obvious Places.. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked at some very popular, well known places– AT TIMES when they were reaching the peak of something.  Most of the time I had very little directly to do with these moments– but the truth is, most of the people around me didn’t either.

For ABC News (I’m picking on this one now its an E-Z target, but clearly Obama’s 2008 campaign was incredibly obvious, but its obvious issues are still being played out) — for my generation, I fashioned myself as someone who at least gave a fuck about the specifics of the history of that institution, with most of its mandate was derived from a Three Channel Era and nice brown hair-dos.  It came from a time & place when even in third place, they garnered recognition by default and you could not avoid knowing them.

The way people got jobs there when I started there about 10 years ago this month, was not often based on talent, but because either they knew someone or were related to someone or they interned there, based on being known by someone, coming from a really known place or being related to someone known– the obvious ivy league was big then(I dont think its a place those obvious graduates would bother much with anymore).  This employment process and particularly the process for advancing your career at that place produced the results we see today of an institution that even when they put all their smoke together all at the same time has a hard time making a cloud anyone would notice on their own block.

ABC News, in its time, was an obvious place.  A household name of all household names!  In certain parlance an OMGAA place!

It was easy to find.  A Paul Rand Logo to boot!  It wasn’t where you would really find anything interesting going on.  And normally, once a place is that obvious there really isn’t much further upwards it can go (google sounds like this to me, in some cases its worse because of the implied expectations for greatness, at the end of the day, even people @ ABC in its day knew they were often “SSTM” or “Shoveling Shit to Mules”).

Obvious places attract obvious faces.  They have great PR departments because they are the ones who can obviously afford them.  And the faces they attract, if they had less obvious things to do, they still wouldn’t go to those places because those dark things are scary.  A lot of an obvious person’s self worth, whether it be from society, nature or nurture, is tied into being OBVIOUS.

This is all well and good and the obvious people wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t enforce the OBVIOUS so hard core and in doing so, prevent more obvious places from being created out of obscurity so they can have more places to work at, defend, be proud of and utterly ruin(thus the cycle of life and capitalistic economic concerns).

They can also really become a problem when their obvious place is really obviously wrong, such as the SS during World War II(oh but they didn’t know it was so bad @ the time).  By nature, the obvious faces tend to make it harder to see the truth at all costs.  They’re so well invested in these places, they’ll ignore just about anything to keep things obvious!

We’ll go into this further about what happens at a COOL PLACE, when the obvious people show up (well there isn’t much further to go into there, its time for you to leave!).  Obvi.!


Why We All Should Care About the Old Crank

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

If life were to be cut into three acts, if we all were permitted to live as long as Andy Rooney– his third act starting at the age of 58, was certainly his most culturally relevant.   What do I mean by that?   Yes, he was a journalist during World War II and a writer for many well known television people for many years– but the reason we all know his name is because of his few minutes with Andy Rooney that started in 1978.   His third act came latest and lasted longer than any other act–in a world so fascinated with youth and prodigal genius, his tardiness is an inspiration to us all in whatever we do.

If you watch several dozen Andy Rooney clips, as I’ve done the past couple of days, you will also notice the tone in which he’s introduced.   I’ve noticed a different tone between some of the older gaurd at 60 minutes and those newer to the train.  It generally ranges from suspicion, to light contempt, to wink wink, the old crazy man’s about to speak.   In his passing, what these esteemed colleagues and ego maniacs have seemingly all agreed on are at least these two points:

1) The guy was memorable – Andy Rooney is the person most people ask them about when they’re out in the field.

2) He brought in the numbers – When Andy Rooney was suspended in the late 80s, Don Hewitt begged for him to come back as soon as possible because the ratings were starting to go into the toilet.  The ratings tended to go up over the course of the hour despite the fact, the producers generally put their most impressive story at the top of the show.

As someone who has had introductions similar to Andy’s throughout my entire life, and who generally associates with others who do as well, I consider Andy Rooney & Don Hewitt trailblazers in the respect that the first parts of 60 minutes clearly are the ones people SAY and want you to think they are watching for– when the truth is, a lot of people actually stuck around each week for Andy, whether the bigshots in the beginning had duds or not.   Don Hewitt tried a lot of crazy things at the end of the show before he got to Andy(point/counter point?).  It took guts to not only give a frumpy writer who had never been on a television a shot, but to keep him there long enough for the American people to understand the truth in what you saw.

Broadcast television is a hard business and when someone like Andy Rooney dies it also reminds one it may soon be a lost art.   At Schmooru, we still consider ourselves broadcasters, even on the internet.   Its a lot harder to attempt to make programming that in some way can relate to the largest audience you can find out there, than to preach to a certain choir–and still have it be interesting.   Andy Rooney, in his longevity and in his controversy is exemplar in how to do just that.

Meanwhile– F. Nick Michaels, doesn’t like Milk:

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WE Like Andy Rooney & Facial Hair

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

There have been many copies, derivatives, inspirations over the years, but Andy Rooney they also say is a true Original.

YET, even the name ROONEY, was taken and used for another grump in Ferris Buehler’s day off.

Ferris Buehler’s day off was fak’d ‘By the Bell

Three men and a baby was faked by Full House.

Good Morning America thought they’d fool you into thinking these two JOLLY weather guys were the SAME. They were not!

And the list goes on and on. At least these things were considered ‘derivative’ not complete copies.

Which brings us back to a few words with Andy Rooney.  Its hard to believe Andy is not going to be on television regularly anymore. You know, I remember as a little kid, even when I couldn’t understand any of the other stories on 60 Minutes and Mike Wallace just made sounds and funny faces, I knew what Andy Rooney was talking about with that extra cotton in the Tums container.

Oh and by the way, there’s a new “I like, I Don’t like” out this week. F. Nick Michaels Likes Facial hair and I must tell you its his best effort yet.



Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

There’s been much SNEEZE acho’d about the future of news–the proverbial piano that’s DROPPED on the ‘old way’ of doing things. As the clean-up of the ivories endures– we thought it might be nice to put Tony the Tiger, epic spoke’s cat for the legendary Frosted Flakes cereal IN the ANCHOR CHAIR!

BEHOLD– the “Confessions” series from the newsies down @Schmooru. The concept here is our team goes in, interviews the heck out of people who work in real places to get to the truth, without revealing their identities. We protect the sources, you get the goods.

Our first series OUTS a DirectTV Call Center. We all have had to call these places, but what’s it like on the other side of the line? If you think its bad navigating the dial trees, imagine what its like eating shit from people with problems you’re not allowed to solve for 10 hours a day? In call centers– there’s only one rule, no matter what they say to you, you can never hang up.

IN this NEVER BEFORE done expression of journalistic integrity–the only thing you’ll be left saying at the end of Call Center Confessions is “Its’ G-R-r-r-r-r-r-eat!!”

RATED: Who the F*ck is This Guy?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

There’s a lot of provocative stuff going on the airwaves right now but it doesn’t mean our times are any more provocative(even if they are).  As Broadcast News gasps its final breaths, its going to take the kitchen sink, counter, walls–heck the entire neighborhood down with it as it tried to hang onto what’s left of its dwindling audiences. Mass media requires mass audiences to survive–like vampires need blood. And as it creeks its LOUD, slow death, it will become even more suckered with hyped-out, deadlined horror stories like national debt defaults, Charlie Sheen explosions, bad things that happen to cute blond chicks and terror scares on September 11th–its just unavoidable, its like rigor mortise.

The next couple of years will feel like the worst part of the worst Star Trek episode on repeat at ear shattering volume.  DAMN IT JIM!–who’s left to simply cut through the crap, make any sense of it all? You won’t find that here. “Making any sense of it all” is OVER RATED and I certainly wouldn’t trust anyone who claims to sell you that story–in the meantime, we offer RATED. Its a new short format show from Schmooru.

In each episode K. W. Rockefeller is presented with some of the toughest issues of our time. Without hesitation or prior preparation, he concludes whether something is Under/Over or just plain RATED.

New Fall Season Starts Wednesday!

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Man… it sucks to be back at work–doesn’t it? Fortunately, we’ve been hard at work at Schmooru making more things to distract you from actually doing anything productive. We’re about to launch our biggest season yet, with TONS of new shows and the return of some of your favourites!

Coming this Wednesday, our NEW FALL SEASON premieres with an ALL NEW NARROW SHOW!

The Narrow Show Episode #5 – The Cranials – We introduce you to a group of folks who’ve got the ways and means to just not let you be.

36 Degrees TRAILER: Full disclosure, we combined going to the beach with our work.  Meet 36 Degrees.   Filmmaker Annie Woods spent the summer documenting one of the dedicated surf cultures in the greatest city in the world– New York’s Rockaway Beach.   Navigating crowded subway trains with longboards, the surfing community in NYC gives new cred to the word ‘gnarly’.

Al Gore Time Machine – The tragic tales of a man who touches history with the best of intentions, but no matter what he does, can’t seem to get it right!

A Friend of Mine – Hillary Clinton once said it took ‘a village to raise a child…”, in the case of “A Friend of Mine” it takes the over 3,000 creative members of to raise this series!   Based on true recorded stories of sexual folly, mistaken identity, drunken deviance, and abject shame–a different group of schmoorus will illustrate the stories in each episode.  Directed by Adam Vine & Carl MacLaren.

Call Center Confessions- In Schmooru’s first step into the waters of innovative journalism, we coax the confessions of the real truths on the other side of the line at a satellite cable TV call center.  If you think your life sucks, you’ve probably never worked in a call center.   By filmmaker Michael Solsky.

Ten Danmandments – Raising a dozen catholic kids in Omaha, Nebraska teaches you a thing or two about life.  IN the case of Ten Danmandments, in his own no bullshit style, he’ll not only reveal his rules to live by, he’ll obliterate any questions.   From the makers of Immigrants.

Rated – Whether its Lady Gaga vs. Madonna or Incadescent lightbulbs, Kevin Gask tells it like it is.   What’s Over hyped, under appreciated, and well.. just plain Rated.  By Filmmaker Daniel De Bonis.

Singles Night with Jack Curtin – You may not know Jack Curtin yet, but after you spend a night with him Boston, you’ll either want to go home with him, or send your sisters running for the hills.  Either way, Jack Curtin always knows how to keep things rolling, keep things easy.. keep things real.

Also Returning this season with ALL NEW EPISODES:

I Like, I Don’t Like

Ask Dr. Esther

Mike Nugent’s Montana

Food with Sam


Every Wednesday.   Obliterate some time with something new from the creative minds of Schmooru. 

The Blind Spot Pilot

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I found this pilot that I made for ABC News Now — what at the time was billed to be a mobile phone concentrated news network, which was to be the future. With the layoffs at ABC News this past month, mentioned in this blog, I thought it interesting to revisit this moment in time — late 2004. John Kerry had just lost the election and George W. Bush had a lot of political capital. Of the THREE Anchors of a generation, only one had walked off into the sunset, another was in the process of being disgraced and yet another, didn’t know his fate. (more…)

The ABC Family.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Its not the one you’re thinking — yes, often times when I was walking by some room with blinking monitors and lights, I could catch a glimpse of Urkel and Full House — but that’s not what I’m talking about here. (more…)

Getting Cheap Nutty Nasty Campaign Ads to go VIRAL

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Interesting piece from NYT’s about the ads running in California… (more…)