Tag Archives: newspapers

Cox Media Group Using Mentally Ill To Sell Product


They are indeed busy little bees up there in the C-Suite at the Cox Media Farm! I gotta hand it to them this time – for their latest marketing campaign we’re not supposed to realize is going on. (See this post/internal memo for Cox history on what we don’t need to know as an audience.)

The flagship Cox product, the AJC, has an excellent series now about the mentally ill in Georgia, the weakest members of society, that AJC management is using (good journalism or otherwise aside) as a means to promote their print product and increase app downloads.

See this footer they’re slapping on the brief, online products for this series:

In Friday’s newspaper, the AJC presents the second part of an update to our “Hidden Shame” series on Georgia’s psychiatric hospitals and group homes. The full, deeper story is one you’ll get only by picking up a copy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper’s iPad appSubscribe today.

Now I’m all for linking up the world and the various media products in whatever ways you can dream up. I do it all the time.

But using the mentally ill in Georgia, and one’s access to creating media like this around the most troubled members of society, causes me a few troubling concerns. (NOTE: The AJC has since pulled down what was a slide show of pictures of the mentally ill in jail. Try this video instead.)

I love digital marketing and new ideas in new media as much as the next good capitalist, but using one’s access (in good faith presumably) to the mentally ill to do so? Does Cox have full, written (lucid and coherent) permission to use the sick people’s images in such ways? I sure hope so.

I feel a little disturbed seeing distressed members of society being pimped-out in such a blatant, no-holds-barred, crass media way as to create a special pipeline and a need for more AJC print products, and to increase iPad app downloads. All with the intention of showing one’s advertisers all that great new data/analytics.

This great marketing campaign sure seems a long way from the work Alan Judd did to bring to light horrors in the Georgia state mental patient care system.

Who knows how this series on the mentally ill will play or be cross-promoted at Cox’s other large product, WSB-TV, if at all. I’m not sure I care to see that much Cox product anyway. Everywhere. As I’ve got the marketing message down by now.

After all, it is the most important part of this story.

Wasted Multimedia Opportunity For S.C. Newspaper



Let’s put this one in the why-newspapers-are-dying cat: so the Rock Hill (South Carolina) Herald gets a line on a truly amazing story… that the white racist who beat John Lewis at a bus station back in 1961 was seeking John Lewis’ forgiveness for his (white racist dude’s) ugly past actions. Amazing, eh?! You better believe it is.

So the white man/former racist travels to Washington to visit with Lewis, to ask Lewis’ forgiveness in person.  (The pathetic creature didn’t even realize that the black man he’d beaten-up back in 1961 was a longtime, famous Congressman now. That’s how ignorant and small-minded the racist dude really was.)

So, back to my mostly media point here, and I do have a BIG one today. The white man is from Rock Hill, SC. His story makes its way to the Rock Hill Herald, the local newspaper. The newspaper sends a reporter, Andrew Dys, to Washington, DC with the white man to document him seeking Rep. Lewis’ forgiveness.

Great story, right? And you, if you were the Rock Hill Herald, pretty much have an exclusive, except for a pesky Good Morning America crew that weaseled their way into Congressman Lewis’ office too for this great story.

Thing is, the Rock Hill Herald shows-up to their story with a pen, paper… and a still camera. Considering that you can pick-up a video camera for about $100. at Wal-Mart on your way to any interview, wherever, that strikes me as just plain backwards – with no multimedia thinking whatsoever about the Rock Hill Herald’s website presence in this near-exclusive. And we wonder why newspapers are dying…

GMA was there in Lewis’ DC office with a camera crew. (See the Herald’s slide show.) But as of 2pm on Feb. 5, 2009, GMA has yet to broadcast their version of the story, presumably captured on some kinda video format.

Meanwhile, the Rock Hill Herald could have had their video version, whipped-up cheap, all over the Internet by now if they’d taped something. Anything! The lil ‘ole Herald could have had a serious exclusive by now.

I know for a fact CNN, for instance, would have loved to have acquired any videotape of the Washington encounter, had there been any to acquire. That way, CNN too could have beaten GMA to their own “exclusive” in the process.

Come to think about it, there’s really not much you can label “exclusive” nowadays… unless you neglect to bring along a video cam. So watch GMA Friday morning if you gotta have your “exclusive” modern moving images.

All Men Are Liars – Installment #49,653



Everyone’s fave pundit, Thomas Friedman, says that conservative white men are liars. (Ya don’t say?) That they went into the private parts of the voting booth and checked the box for Obama… after telling their cronies all along at the country club Men’s Grill, presumably over a rare steak and a scotch-rocks, that they were, of course dude, for McCain.

That buried deep in their lying, tiny, twisted hearts, the motivation that they “wanted to honor their kids” prompted them to suddenly morph to Spike Lee upon walking in the door of their local voter precinct.

Bit of a stretch, eh? Especially when you know what conservative white men are really like deep down, but Friedman even brands this lying white men phenomenon “the buffet effect.” (As opposed to the Bradley effect, of course.)

You can decide for yourself in the video here, which I must say is pure pundit nirvana: Huffington, Hitchens, Friedman… all together for your punditry pleasurin’ at the BBC on election night.

As the scoffing cynic, I must note with a vague wave of some Blanche Dubois hankie to fairness, that my right-of-Buchanan, Citadel-bred dad did scour all of Cobb County, Georgia (High Newt Country) for hours yesterday, the day after our history-making election on Tuesday, trying to find just one extra newspaper. Not for himself, but for me.

Cox Plantation Selling Off Parcels


Wanna buy a Cox newspaper? Bet they’re an even better deal than an SUV about right now. Take your time, kick a few tires, consult with Clark Howard about the wisdom of such a purchase. From a large Cox parcel:

Cox Enterprises, owner of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is selling newspaper holdings in North Carolina, Colorado and Texas, the company announced today.

The $15 billion company will keep three of its largest newspapers, including the AJC, The Palm Beach Post and the Dayton Daily News.

Company officials did not disclose a sales price for the properties placed on the market, but said revenue from the sales will be used to pay down debt.

“This decision was made as part of an ongoing strategic review of our portfolio and enables us to maintain our strong and stable financial performance,” said Jim Kennedy, Cox chairman and CEO.

Cox will also sell Valpak, the company’s direct mail advertising division, officials said.

Large newspaper companies around the country have been shedding some of their holdings because of declining revenues and the slumping economy.

Rest of story here. Think I’ll take a pass on the dino-papers, but I like those Valpak carpet cleaning coupons. I actually use those things.

Internet News Broadcasting – What NOT To Do


Jarvis says whatever you do about online broadcasting, no matter what kind of news farm you are, just do NOT try to emulate the CF that is local TV news:

Let’s get this straight, people: Local TV news sucks. It is no model for what newspapers or anyone should do in video online. It’s cheesy. It’s unbearable. I’m delighted that local TV news priests don’t like what the Ledger did. That’s best indication of success I can imagine.

What Jarvis loves is this broadcast from The Star-Ledger (yes, a NEWSPAPER) in New Jersey. And it’s got Rosenblum written (and paid too) all over it. Go Star-Ledger go!

Bless This Transition


Why is it so easy to instantly forget the humanity that exists within an entire industry? Newspapers in this case. Hell, in cyberspace it’s easy to forget just about anything we used to be tactilely associated with.

Standing within six feet of three Pulitzer Prize winners in Journalism, at a party (I crashed) to honor Hank Klibanoff’s departure from the AJC (Klibanoff himself a Pulitzer winner for the book The Race Beat) an unexpected wave of sober, strong admiration for the people who are going to now face the end of their industry as we all knew it came upon me. It dawned on me that these people will face the end of an era, the end of their industry, with strength and dignity and humor, and a respect for their colleagues in a way that will humble us all.

I Twittered some during the party and took a few of those grainy indoor iPhone snaps. But I really wish I had live-streamed; the toasts and the roasts were good, but mostly, folk out here in the swirl of the Internet’s crashing vastness need to witness the humanity of which I so glibly, and merely, blog about.

This post put together by Cat Stevens’ Teaser and The Firecat.

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!


AJC Gasps For Audience


While reading through the exhaustive 8K+ word biopic on AJC’s publisher Julia Wallace in Atlanta Magazine, I was struck by the use of the word “reader” throughout the lengthy piece. As in, “Readers are abandoning newspapers in droves. Where the bottom is, nobody knows.”

Let’s look at the definition of that word, READER:

1. One that reads.

2. One who publicly recites literary works.
a. A person employed by a publisher to read and evaluate manuscripts.
b. One who corrects printers’ proofs; a proofreader.
4. A teaching assistant who reads and grades examination papers.
5. Chiefly British A university teacher, especially one ranking next below a professor.

a. A textbook of reading exercises.
b. An anthology, especially a literary anthology.
7. A layperson or minor cleric who recites lessons or prayers in church services.

As someone who almost lives and breathes in the online milieu, I rarely encounter the word “reader” much outside of a brick-n-mortar bookstore. Even that cool new book downloader is devoid of the word “reader” as it was branded a “Kindle.” Rather, in an online environment, the presence formerly known as “reader” has morphed to become a socially-driven network known as “the audience.”

So I ran the whole 8K beefy enchilada written by Steve Fennessey through a “Word Find” document function, searching for the word “audience” in his article about Julia, but found not one single incident anywhere, from him or from Ms. Wallace’s lips. That then prompted me to seek a formal definition of the word AUDIENCE:

a. The spectators or listeners assembled at a performance, for example, or attracted by a radio or television program.
b. The readership for printed matter, as for a book.
2. A body of adherents; a following: The tenor expanded his audience by recording popular songs as well as opera.
3. A formal hearing, as with a religious or state dignitary.
4. An opportunity to be heard or to express one’s views.
5. The act of hearing or attending.

And wow… #4 really stood out, as that’s what creating and consuming media in the online milieu is all about. So note the, ahem, old-school style and passivity inherent in the definition of “reader.” Then compare it to the meaning of the interactive implication of an “audience.”

Also note that no baby was thrown out with the bathwater when considering the acquisition of an “audience,” as item 1-b  just above also incorporates that, aging demo I’m afraid, “reader.”

So you tell me which word will be driving the creation and the consumption of news media products from here on out.   

Yet More Welcomes To The Blogosphere


Tribune Co. to hack away more newspaper jobs. Story here.