Who’s on Twitter? This data will scare the bejessus out of some of my corporate clients

Quoting Media Bistro reprinting All Twitter, “The anatomy of a Twitter user is interesting stuff: he’s male, between 18 and 29, Hispanic, and lives in an urban area. At least, that’s according to the latest Twitter infographic from FlowTown.”

It continues, “And the type of information that Twitter users are sharing might surprise some people as well. Personal updates are the most-shared pieces of information on Twitter, followed by work updates. The least popular thing to share on Twitter? Your location.”

The article features a graphic illustrating users and usage too.

But my point is – if the most interesting thing to Tweet is one’s location, then it doesn’t say much about content, editorial direction or much that portends to be informational or substantial. If social media is reduced to location, location and location, then it would seem to be of limited, lasting value. I don’t think that’s the case, but it does support the contention that Twitter is like the pet rock

20% of the audience is gone in the first 10 seconds

20% of the audience clicks OFF a video in the first 10 seconds; 40% is gone at 1 minute and 60% has tuned out at the minute thirty mark.
Distressing?
I think this is a near fatal blow in recognizing audiences don’t even give many programs a chance before they’re clicked off. For corporate clients… for news producers… for any one who produces content this is a sad set of numbers produced by Benchmarking Viewer Abandonment in Online Video which “looked at how viewers watched and ultimately abandoned over 40 million unique video clips, which, in aggregate, have received nearly 7 billion views.”

Blink taught us people make judgments about one another in the first 3 seconds of a conversation, but even at 10 seconds this study gives me little reason for optimism. What does this say for our concentrations? What does this say for our quick-trigger response about what interests us, or what we want to give time to, invest ourselves in?
For clients who produce videos in the hope of delivering messages this will be positively frightening. For my students who flit about from story to story with little regard for depth or concentration, this just gives weight to their argument that if a piece isn’t interesting (quickly) they just wont watch it at all.

10 seconds is hardly justification for ignorance.

What’s “new” is already old and what’s old isn’t selling

When did TV News lose its balls? When did TV news decide it was better to get the interview and promise not to offend than to actually hold people accountable and perhaps, dare even, make news in the process?

Is it some sort of unwritten code not to be tough? Is it the result of cut-throat competition that has resulted in a broadcast environment of pabulum? Did news producers find their legs cut from beneath them by corporate ownership (Viacom, GE, Disney) that is more concerned with legislation and other corporate divisions than they are devoted to their news operations and what once passed for content?

David Carr’s To Beat Today, Look to Tomorrow is a thoughtful compendium of what’s wrong with morning news. Those stalwart morning shows… on ABC, CBS or NBC are hardly news any more, certainly not often news-worthy and more often news-light.

Soft features that once would never see airtime in what was once called the 7 o’clock “hard news hour” now dominate and sometimes even lead the broadcasts. Editorial-lite, anchor-intense gabfest now proliferate where once pointed interviews were the morning staple.
News was made – people wanted to be heard making news – programs wanted to break news – politicians and others were expected (and perhaps at times were excited) to appear and speak the truth (that’s news!) as the business day began.

What has caused the change? Not that long ago news makers who said quote-worthy things on a morning show set the agenda for the day to follow. They were even used as snippets in subsequent broadcasts. How long has it been since that happened?

When did TV News lose its balls? When did TV news decide it was better to get the interview and promise not to offend than to actually hold people accountable and perhaps, dare even, make news in the process?

Is it some sort of unwritten code not to be tough? Is it the result of cut-throat competition that has resulted in a broadcast environment of pabulum? Or perhaps what is more likely, did news producers find their legs cut from beneath them by corporate ownership (Viacom, GE, Disney) that is more concerned with legislation and other corporate divisions than they are devoted to their news operations and even concerned for the absence of what once passed for content?

Ok, for disclosure – as a freelancer I do work for more than one of these morning broadcasts 0r their cable cousins, albeit far from the decision centers on West 57th Street, Times Square or 30 Rock.

Guests are fawned over – given fruit baskets with notes signed from “their friends and family at XYZ news”. Yes, God’s truth… that’s what I and others have been instructed to write. I have declined.

I have noted over the years the news divisions sway over the content seems to have been minimized – the intensity of the questioning has been lessened. In its place we see a zeal for getting the guest – for proclaiming it an exclusive even when there was no competition for the story itself.

Have we all deluded ourselves into believing that the audience cared about an exclusive that was, on its merits, not truly important? Does making a hullabaloo about an exclusive raise the story to be worthy of the water-cooler later in the day?

David Carr is correct. The morning news model is dated.  Once there was a chance to earn greater interest because the shows were content heavy, compelling attention, and featuring well-written copy instead of largely ad-libbed repartee.

One day the audience might again demand more. Today in the 500 channel world of entertainment it seems as if too many stations – like CBS’ Early Show – are mired in repeating what is already shown elsewhere – echoing through the airwaves – instead of forging new ground.

So sure, toss out the old anchors. Pretend that’s the problem and the solution. If we are following the tried-and-true model of network production next the New York masterminds will once again remodel the show’s set and change graphics package for the program.
For when the anchor carnage doesn’t pan out, this will surely so the trick… after all we’ve experienced this before.

National Security Trumps the Right to Know, Sometimes Even the Opportunity to Ask

The recent gas explosion that destroyed a neighborhood in San Bruno, California offers another example of police and local authorities using the drape of “national security” to push the media back from the scene, to refuse to answer questions, and to deny access to maps and other documents that would give knowledge and comfort to residents, rate payers and tax payers.

Before the dawn of the morning following he explosion I was ordered back from an intersection more than a mile from the fire by a sergeant of the Pacifica (California) police acting as part of a mutual aid response. Why couldn’t we remain where we were parked – and had been parked for some 12 hours? “National Security” was his response as if by declaring those 2 words it precluded any further discussion or need for explanation. One could surmise if we refused to move the skies would be filled with black helicopters and the streets with black SUVs as federal law enforcement would leap from these vehicles as if clowns packed into too small a car in a circus ring.

“National Security” is all one needs to say now in defense of any argument or inquiry. Why can’t the utility PG&E release maps of outs gas lines? “National Security.” I suppose they are worried that terrorists with backhoes will soon be digging up streets to cause unimaginable destruction.

I suppose if I trusted those making the assertion, that in fact there was a real threat I’d be more willing to comply with their instruction. It just so often seems to ring like a hollow excuse. It becomes a wild card for which there is no argument; it trumps all other discussion.

But we have been too-often toyed with before. We are told we can’t make pictures at an airport or along a public waterfront where joggers run and mothers stroll with baby carriages because it might give advantage to our enemies. How about the damage this Draconian approach might cause to a free and open society? Is this truly for our safety or is it window dressing in the absence of a better, more effective plan? It reminds me of the months following 9/11 when the California Highway Patrol assigned a patrol cruiser parked at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge as a final bulwark of security against a cascading truck aimed at the bridge towers. I so often saw the officer in that car asleep in his seat that I wondered how much real security was being provided as opposed to what might otherwise seem to be window dressing.

It is frightening to witness the erosion of media protection. It seems to be a step in the wrong direction to limit access, to thwart entry, and to restrict the free flow of information. If there is a real threat, then there is no argument. If there is no reason except for the desire of authorities to conduct their work free from the eyes of the media and the public, then this must be fought.

Cartoon satire – skewered in multimedia

Two recently produced cartoons Donald Duck Discovers Glenn Beck: A Remix and Mickey Mouse Discovers the Government Cartoon Conspiracy Against Glenn Beck are making the rounds in social media poking fun at the politics of the right.
Depending on one’s political bent these can be funny or offensive. What’s more interesting is the use of multimedia – cartoon art, file cartoon footage and audio tape to create new content.

What’s not surprising is the absence of tolerance from those who are trigger happy to judge that these are political hack jobs with their bias run amok. One staunch conservative summarized the first as, “Glenn Beck’s political views have the left driven to distraction. His enourmous (sic) success has them tearing their hair out.” Then he suggested that the second would be better if the target was a democrat, “Barney Frank is far better suited as a target for this type of satire…his voice alone is cartoonish, his history of bizarre behavior just ads to his suitability.”

I am enjoying is the resurgence of the cartoon, today as multimedia. I think Thomas Nast must be smiling.

Who’d want a career like this?

CNBC is reporting on those jobs expected to experience the greatest decline in the next 10 years.
Tops on the list:
“Reporters and Correspondents

Employed in U.S.: 61,600
Change expected in next decade: -8%
Average salary: $34,850

Consolidation and convergence are the top reasons the news industry is shrinking. News outlets are increasingly sharing each other’s content, which means they need fewer reporters and correspondents.

The news business gets hit particularly hard during economic downturns as most revenue comes from advertising, and companies spend less on advertising during a slump. Improving technology is one bright light, which could drive some employment in online or mobile divisions.

Competition is expected to be intense for jobs at large and national newspapers, broadcast stations and magazines. The best opportunities are expected to be with smaller, local news outlets as well as for online news organizations, as technology generates demand for online reporters or mobile news units. Writers who can handle scientific or technical subjects will have an advantage.”

This is enough to make one very sad…and the salaries too. Who’d want a profession that’s guaranteed to enable enrollment in food stamps?

This was once an honorable and valued profession. What happened?

OutFOXed or smarter than one?

In an editorial tip-of-the-hat to its generally conservative audience, the self-proclaimed fair and balanced FOX network has built a lineup of high profile, high-powered anchors and contributors, including former governors Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas) and Sarah Pallin (R-Alaska) among others. It has been an effective strategy that has been coined “talk radio right” and remains largely popular among audiences and, in turn, many advertisers.

Politico points out in today’s The Fox primary: complicated, contractual that with 4 FOX regulars now exploring the possibility of running for president in 2012, at what point does the news network have to make a choice — drop these popular talent entirely; disclose its inherent political support by providing them an unlimited, unhindered platform; assure audiences that coverage is fair and balanced regardless of political ambition or finances; or appoint an ombudsman?
Fox is already counting down the days to this November’s mid-term elections. It would be fair to assume a similar countdown clock to 2012 will be unveiled shortly after November 2, 2010… so, when is the proper time to establish some distance?
It is abundantly clear that Ms. Pallin is already campaigning for something, endorsing GOP candidates and appearing for tea party fund-raisers nationwide. Messrs. Gingrich and Huckabee routinely appear on the political circuit of speeches as they graze the chicken dinners and sample the audience’s response to their message.

Is this apparent conflict of interest a problem for FOX? To an old ethicist it would seem unseemly. How can a network cover one of its own without bias? Without criticism or the basis of impartiality? Or, can it?

But what if this is the new standard? Is FOX comfortable evolving from “Your Election HQ” to becoming the “voice of the nation network”? By covering only those it appears to favor, from Sharron Angle or Christine O’Donnell, raising awareness and money for their campaigns, is FOX also building the inside track on whatever news and politics from within those in power, those it backed, and those who are dependent on their access to the FOX mouthpiece?

So – has FOX been outFOXed as Politico might suggest, or does the network care? Do they need to? Surely the toothless FCC is in no position to do anything.
In what is an essentially changing media world has FOX simply been the first to pick and back the candidates it favors? Too Machiavellian or just plain strategic?

And what happens after the votes are cast and it is time to pay the piper?

The power of one – a man sings out in protest

There are others who take stages across America to poke fun or satire at contemporary events. I’d venture to suggest they rarely get the attention they deserve. Mr. Seeger is testimonial evidence of a life lived well in pursuit of his passion, in honor of his beliefs, and his desire to persuade others to think and share his commitment.

Pete Seeger is an American legend, a troubadour who at 91 can still raise his voice to shine light on what he believes is wrong. His most recent target is BP for its culpability in the gulf oil spill off Louisiana, and his recording of “God’s Counting on Me, God’s Counting on You” was recently recorded in New York. In his aging voice there remains unmistakable power, and through his lips the lyrics written by his friend Lorre Wyatt echo with a tremendous resonance.

In the contemporary media world where opinion delivered with bravado and volume seems more valued than thoughtful wisdom, where pundits seems to predominate over those who have first-hand knowledge and acumen, it is instructive, indeed empowering to witness a sole voice of articulate rebellion and considered dissent. It is illustrative that a single voice – at whatever age – can still be a clarion.

There are others who take stages across America to poke fun or satire at contemporary events. I’d venture to suggest they rarely get the attention they deserve. Mr. Seeger is testimonial evidence of a life lived well in pursuit of his passion, in honor of his beliefs, and his desire to persuade others to think and share his commitment.

It just made me pause for a moment to compare his voice to the noise of so many others who appear to measure their success by achieving sixteen minutes of fame, as compared to a man who has earned a lifetime of applause for a body of work achieved singing one song at a time.

As if we needed another reason to feel older…

The annual survey on incoming freshmen at Beloit College has been released, and as if I wasn’t already feeling older this summer Tuesday morning, this provides ample evidence that the times they are a’changing, again.

The incoming freshmen and women of the class of 2014 have always lived with and been surrounded by technology; they consume games and have been weened on education programs.  They use technology even if they don’t understand how it works.  Enhanced user interfaces have made even the simplest tasks automated.  Emails and cell phones have been constants in their lives.  They are surrounded by information yet they appear to actually consumer very little and perhaps understand even less.  They are satisfied by easy searches and are unaccustomed to challenging the veracity of what they find.   They are schooled in utilizing tools and speak of too kits; they can create sophisticated media, but I am not sure they appreciate its power to do more than entertain.

It seems worthy of longer discussion about how these”kids” are truly different, partly because of technology, partly because of upbringing and education.  Suffice it to say, what they find interesting, important and meaningful as well as how they rely on technology, sometimes in lieu of real experience, will continue to send shock waves throughout the media world.

Excerpts from a story filed by Dinesh Ramde, Associated Press Writer

“MILWAUKEE – For students entering college this fall, e-mail is too slow, phones have never had cords and the computers they played with as kids are now in museums.

The Class of 2014 thinks of Clint Eastwood more as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry urging punks to “go ahead, make my day.” Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.

These are among the 75 items on this year’s Beloit College Mindset List. The compilation, released Tuesday, is assembled each year by two officials at this private school of about 1,400 students in Beloit, Wis.

…Remember when Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Dan Quayle or Rodney King were in the news? These kids don’t.

Ever worry about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.? During these students’ lives, Russians and Americans have always been living together in outer space.

… Another Mindset List item reflects a possible shift in Hollywood attitudes. Item No. 12 notes: “Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.”

A number of incoming freshmen  said they partially agreed with the item, noting they were familiar with Eastwood’s work as an actor even if they hadn’t seen his films.

…Jessica Peck, a 17-year-old from Portland, Ore., disagreed with two items on the list — one that says few students know how to write in cursive, and another that suggests this generation seldom if ever uses snail mail.

“Snail mail’s kind of fun. When I have time I like writing letters to friends and family,” she said. “It’s just a bit more personal. And yes, I write in cursive.”

Peck did agree with the item pointing out that most teens have never used telephones with cords.

“Yes, I’ve used them but only at my grandparents’ house,” she said.”

And once we thought getting a telephone call was a big deal…

News obituary – the audience is dying and so is the programming as we have known it

Older audiences for network newscasts may signal the death of the evening news – oh wait, maybe this obituary is already past due for newscasts that cost too much to produce for too little profit for too small an audience.  That is a trifecta representing the end of news as we know it.

Audiences are aging and networks have largely failed to capture the attention or loyalty of the younger Gen X, Gen Y, Millenials, Gen R and other audiences.  As the network news audience ages the doom and gloom around those once proud organizations becomes more intense.

I’ve heard an internal number at ABC News shows the average World News Tonight audience is 61.3 years old.  Public numbers are not as venerable.  At that increasing age medical-pharmaceutical and a few other advertisers are about the only ones who will find this audience at all desirable.

It foretells the end of the evening news as we know it today. Is that a bad thing? Is this just another evolutionary step? In the cafeteria era of news, will the end even be noticed?

From TVNewser, “Report: Broadcast TV Aging Faster than the Population.

Broadcast television viewers are getting older at a faster rate than the general population, according to a new report from analyst Steve Sternberg.
The report does not mean that literally, of course, but rather the median age of network TV viewers continues to rise every year, outpacing the general public.

The median age for CBS last season as 55, with ABC at 51 and NBC 49. Fox, which does not have a network news division, was the youngest of the big four at 44 years old.

So what does it mean for broadcast TV news?

For network news divisions, the aging is troubling, but unlikely to affect their economics in the short term. With the proliferation of cable news outlets, broadcasters have already been hit hard, and seen their audiences erode over the last few years…
As a result CBS News and ABC News, which do not have cable networks to prop them up, have been through a series of devastating layoffs and cutbacks.

Because news shows typically sell ads targeting viewers 25-54 years old, it gives them more room to maneuver as the networks continue to age upward. Only CBS has a median age above the key demo.

Longer-term however, it is a troubling prospect. The entertainment programming typically drives most of the profits at the broadcasters, and as they age up and the audiences decline, the profits will get smaller.

Smaller profits means that the network will look for more ways to cut back. Those cutbacks could end up coming from the news divisions, with its already small margins.”