Posted by Amanda Chapel Thursday, January 11, 2007
...an exhilarating downhill slide toward cultural chaos.
Looks like the Jarvis Political Party has finally been busted for fraud. For those of you visiting from outer space, Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine is a key spokesperson for a quasi-political party (some would call populace mob) whose mission it is to change the type of news and information you consume. Bottom-line: he/they contend that gone are days of media institutions as the source for information. The new model, they believe and avidly promote, is a worldwide network of Web stringers and consumer producers. Why’s that political? Because news and information is the backbone of organized policy and the very essence of democracy.
Anyway, according to a new study “News Agency Dominance in International News on the Internet” by Dr. Chris Paterson, University of Leeds Centre for International Communications Research, Jarvis and his followers are flat-world dead wrong. Paterson calls the apparently limitless expansion of news sources on the Web "a conjurer's trick", i.e. a fraud. He adds: "We are being duped by more brand labels on the same, very limited, news content. For most end-users, the Internet is a mass medium providing mostly illusory interactivity and mostly illusory diversity."
See... the benefit of Web journalism is based on the illusion of ever-expanding choice. Peter Kirwian, editor of Fullrun, hit the nail on the head as to the essential fallacy: “It's always been a paradox. On the one hand, the rise of the web was supposed to open the floodgates to multiple sources of news. On the other, the economics of this idea were an obvious problem right from the start. How could the Internet support such an array of different news sources if web advertising generated so little revenue compared to print?”
A growing number of people get their news from the Internet, but they are being subjected to a narrowing worldview of global events. Dr. Paterson apparently thinks this is a cause for concern and has been investigating this paradox for the past five years. Back in 2001, he used plagiarism detection software to analyze a sample of international stories on major web sites. The software found that 68% of news copy on aggregator sites like Yahoo and Google News could be traced back to stories originally generated by agencies like Reuters, the Press Association and Associated Press. Paterson repeated the exercise in 2006 and found that the proportion had risen to 85%. Perhaps more alarmingly, Paterson found that the amount of original in-house reporting undertaken by traditional media outlets had also declined. In 2001, these traditional outlets (such as the BBC and the UK's national newspapers) were dependent on wire copy for 34% of their content. Today, the proportion is 50%.
A recent report State of the News Media 2006 confirms those findings: "For now, it appears that the resources devoted to skilled journalism will continue to shrink as the web grows."
Posted by an Honored Guest Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Blog schmog! Did I say that? I certainly could have; but no, it wasn't me. It's actually a great new book that comes out in about a week. It happens also to be our Book of the Month!
Well, rather than me go on, how 'bout a few words from the author, Robert Bly. He's our guest columnist today.
By way of introduction: Bly is an award winning marketer and author. He has more than 25 years experience in copywriting. He's the author of more than 60 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing.
Ironically, he is also a widely read and popular blogger. In his new book Blog Schmog, Bly takes a refreshing look at the blogging phenomenon and its impact on marketing and modern culture. Robert holds the phenomena up to a harsh light... and then gives practical advise on how to approach it. He cuts thru the hype revealing not only blogging's enormous potential but also its limitations.
Without further ado... it is my distinct pleasure to introduce Robert Bly.
Can blogging help you market your product online? By Robert W. Bly
Here’s a question I’ve been curious about lately: should marketers add blogging to their arsenal of marketing tactics? Will it help sell more products and services?
Or is it – as I suspect -- an utter waste of time? A pure vanity publication that won’t pay you back even one thin dime for your effort?
First, a definition. “A blog is an online journal,” explains blogging expert Deb Weil in her Business Blogging Starter Kit (www.wordbiz.com). “It’s called a journal because every entry is time and date stamped and always presented in reverse chronological order.”
The theory is that if you are an information marketer – or, if you publish information to establish your expertise in a niche industry or field – blogging should be part of your publishing arsenal.
According to Deb, a business blog is “a platform from which to lobby, network, and influence sales. It’s a way to circumvent traditional media and analysts. And blogging can be done instantly, in real time, at a fraction of the cost of using traditional channels.”
Now here’s my hesitancy in recommending blogs as a marketing tool: I have yet to find a single marketer who says that a business blog has gotten him a positive ROI, or return on investment.
I know plenty of online marketers who make millions of dollars a year from their Web sites and e-zines, for instance. But I’ve not seen a blog whose creator says that the time and effort spent on their blog has directly put money into their pockets.
“I would say that, with few exceptions, blogs are not yet direct income producing resources in and of themselves,” says blogging authority Paul Chaney (www.radiantmarketing.biz). “Their value lies in the fact that they help raise one’s stature relative to their respective field.”
In my observation, there are two major problems with blogging as a business-building tool.
The first is that most of the blogs I encounter are rambling, streams-of-consciousness musings about a particular topic of interest to the author, largely bereft of the kind of practical, pithy tips that e-zines, Web sites, and white papers offer.
As Deb says, reading the blog is like reading the author’s journal or diary. And unless you are a guru or celebrity whom others worship from afar, people are simply not going to flock to your blog to discover your latest thoughts on life.
The second problem with blogs is one of distribution.
With an e-zine, once the reader subscribes, he gets the e-zine delivered to him electronically every week or every month -- or however often you send it.
But with a blog, the reader has to go out and proactively look for it. And since your contributions to your blog may be irregular and unscheduled, he has no way of knowing when something new of interest has been added.
One big advantage of blogs, according to Paul Chaney, is that having a blog can help pull traffic to your Web site.
"The search engines, especially Google, love blogs,” says Paul. “You’d be amazed at how many of your posts will end up in the top ten returns. If search engine optimization is a concern to you, blogs are the best way I know to move up the ladder as well as increase your page rank.”
“I confidently predict that blogs will soon be a key piece of an effective online marketing strategy,” says Deb Weil. “Ultimately, they’re nothing more than an instant publishing tool, one that makes posting fresh content to the Web within anyone’s reach. No tech skill or knowledge required.”
And that’s another one of my complaints with blogs in particular and the Web in general: the ease with which people can post and disseminate content. “The best thing about the Web is that anyone can publish on it; the worst thing about the Web is that anyone can publish on it,” a computer magazine columnist once observed.
The problem is that there is already too much content, and we don’t want or need more. Analysis, wisdom, insight, advice, strategies, ideas – yes. But raw information, data, or content – no. And from what I can see, blogs serve up almost none of the former, and tons of the later.
Blogs are, by virtue of being a form of online diary, like diaries: rambling, incoherent, and more suited for private thoughts than public consumption.
If you have something of value to share, there are many better formats for doing it online than by blogging, including white papers, e-zines, and Web sites.
Even bulletin boards are interactive, so they have value by virtue of shared opinions, dialogue, and engaging conversation which may be listened to openly and publicly.
But most blogs seem to be the private idiosyncratic musings of an individual, without censure or editing of any kind. And the result is like porridge: a gloppy mess, tasteless, and not very satisfying.
Until that changes, I can’t see starting and maintaining a blog of your own, unless you are bored and looking for something to do, or require an outlet for self-expression. And if the latter is the case, well … why not just buy and keep a diary instead?
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
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