Tag Archives: ENG

At What Point Do Social Networks Become Valuable?


An odd thing happened while online (and doing laundry) this morning. First, just like a lover you can’t quit, after swearing, as Leonard Witt did too about panel discussions and papers, that I’d never read yet another article about the death of the dead-tree news industry (newspapers), I of course read a remarkable one; it really was different, I swear!

The author focused on the writer – and the importance of branding the writer, with a focus on the writer/reporter’s “leadership” roles and responsibility… in the online environment at least. Here’s a glimpse from the catchy titled, It’s Time For The Newspaper Industry To Die:

Newspapers employ some of the best writers in their communities. They ought to be treating those writers as the valuable assets they are, and providing them the same level of credit on their stories that top bloggers take on their posts. Where are the mugshots, the links to biographies and to other stories written by the same author? That information isn’t there just to stroke a writer’s ego; it should be there to help establish that writer’s credibility with a potentially global online audience.

While reading this article about shifting roles and focus, I simultaneously received, via email, the first-ever promo from a cameraman – one who has been working in the broadcast news industry for over 30 years. His quick note touted an excellent series that he’d been DP on: profiles about an extraordinary person. I doubt I would have ever watched the series on Big TV though, had he not taken the time to email me and tell me about it, and his work shooting the series. (It will air April 9th. You can preview here.)

Yet just now, April 5, 2008, was when this one network cameraman chose to tap into his vast personal network to illuminate his work in an industry where he’s considered at the very top of the profession. Maybe he never realized just how vast his social network was? More likely though… he never realized how valuable it was!

Likely no one in the network’s news management ever thought to consider it valuable, either. That this one cameraman, out of droves of support & ENG types, each fully equipped with unique, valuable social networks, was sitting right under their noses. (Moreorless the same premise that makes me say I’d never hire someone who wasn’t blogging, but let’s stay on-topic here.)

Consider too that this cameraman had been layed-off by his network two years ago! Who needs 30 years experience in the TV industry? Get ’em off the books. Fast! He is now out on his own, trying to earn a living on his own while doing what he’s done all his life. And still working for the ‘net that layed him off.  Go figure that. (He’s still in the union too. I wonder if he had to get permission from a shop steward to email the promo around?! But let’s, again, stay on topic.)

Once the blanket of job security, and with it a sometimes dogged complacency, is taken away from people, it’s amazing how fast they begin to reach out to shore-up and build-out their personal social networks. Indeed, you could argue that their very survival is now utterly dependent on doing just that. Or woe to the person who fails to do so. Their employment prospects will be just that much less.

I seriously doubt newspaper management has ever  been “hungry” enough to look for value in social network leadership. Broadcast news management either. I say lay-off a few more upper management types. Let ’em develop and grow and troll their own social networks for a while. Only then will we begin to see more of what the author of “It’s TIme For The Newspaper Industry To Die” wrote about begin to happen.

And maybe in a couple of years, that clued-in cameraman will hire THEM back!