Saturday, March 10, 2007

"We found at 6:30 with only 22 minutes of programming time, people basically want you to tell them what happened in the world that day...That's probably the biggest lesson we learned." Sean McManus

The quotation is from the Eric Deggans writing in the St Pete Times here. Amazing.

Michael Learmonth writing in Variety - CBS taps Kaplan to boost news - "His to meet the needs and expectations of an audience that already knows the headlines of the day...'The network that is able to service that extra curiosity and answer their questions is going to build an audience.'" Read the entire article here.

Bravo! Scott Shannon and his WPLJ team of merry pranksters offer up a tune about Katie. "It must be tons of stress for the perky news princess" MP3 here. Obvious, topical, local - priceless.

My sense is rather than fight for existing share CBS news would be wise to invent new share, create a new news market space. Yes there is certainly a hole larger than a Boeing 787 between the competitive space at 6:30 now fought over by the big three and the Lehrer News Hour and the contestable space of the cable newsers. My suggestion is to look for what is not there, what is not now on offer. Here's some more thinking from Gary Hamel..."The problem with the future is not that it is unknowable. The problem with the future is that it is different. If you are unable to think differently, the future will always arrive as a surprise...confirmation of what you already believe is a complete waste of time. You must look for disconfirming evidence, for things that don't fit, for things that are ajar. This is hard, because it forces you to write off your depreciating intellectual capital - you must admit not only that you do 'not know' many things but that you 'wrongly know' many things." The good Dr. Hamel is wiser than a tree full of owls. Once more with feeling, please, say it out loud "We have a leadership problem."

The what > The why > The how
We get seduced by the game, the sirens of inside-baseball and toy department fun of how, distracted from the critical precedents of what and why. Too often the green shades get us focused on the numerator and tactics when we should instead be concentrating and obsessing on the denominator and strategy.

Industry inertia is deadly. Best practices, benchmarking and playing it safe are killing innovation in the conference room. "That's an interesting idea Jennifer, what major market stations are using that approach successfully?" Al Primo couldn't get arrested today. When NewsBlues and the watercoolers at TVSpy get more readers than LostRemote you know we have a problem. It was ever thus. There is more passion and serious, candid thinking and discussion going on today in the IT department (e.g., vi vs emacs) than in the news department (i.e., what we're doing now vs what might we be doing now). We need to confront the present with the possible. That giant sucking sound is the urgent consuming all of the oxygen in the room and killing the important.

This same massive failure of imagination can be seen in the ad sales space. Rather than develop their own new business station sales teams use competitive monitoring to target accounts unleashing a swarm of cold calls on defenseless merchants. Picture a pier in early morning light. A bunch of folks with lines in the water. One gets a fish on the line and reels it in. Rather than catch their own fish the unsuccessful others change the game, they drop their lines and run to a fight with one intention... to get a piece of the successful angler's prize.

Developing new competitive space much like developing new revenue streams will require thought, imagination, hard work and risk. To succeed sooner you will need to learn and appreciate how to fail faster. It's about art. Patrons Wanted: 21st century media Medici.

You are reading the new Michael Rosenblum blog, right? He has a great lesson on offer today, Some advice from a giant...

"You decide on a course of action, and of course you get resistance. Rather than stand your ground, you give in a little. Give in a little here… give in a little there. Try to make people happy. You compromise by degrees. One degree at a time. Pretty soon you are nowhere near where you started. In fact, you are going in completely the wrong direction.

One Degree-itits."

Bravo Michael! Read Michael's post here. The post reminds me of something my friend the brilliant Dale Pon was found of advocating, he was very passionate about what he once called "high-definition communication." For the creative to be effective it must be undiluted, free of the clutter brought by too many cooks. Dale creates advertising rich with emotion. A very serious student of advertising, Dale has no need nor want for collaborators. He preaches industrial strength reduction, getting directly to the heart, the essence of the message, preoccupied with what is seen and heard rather than what is said. The secret of his amazing work is its purity, that rare quality bereft of office politics and conference room second guessing. Four words. I Want My MTV. But what did that say about the brand? As it happened, everything.

"The greatest danger to journalism is a newsroom or a profession where everyone thinks alike. Because then one wrong turn can cause an entire news division to implode. We must respect and encourage diversity of thought and speech in the newsroom." Roger Ailes (from his acceptance speech RTNDF 1st Amendment Leadership Award)

Closed circuit: Attention readers. The legendary Chicago raconteur and uber-cool renaissance man Fred Winston has changed his blog address. His blog has moved here. Please make a note of it.

Bonus: Obviously

Bonus 2: Words at Play (hint: you'll need audio on and up, and please keep in mind play like news is a verb)