Monday, May 26, 2008

THERE IS HOPE- A TRUE STORY

Sometimes I worry about what the hell is going to happen when the current crop of children, raised almost exclusively in hydroponic sensory isolation, reach adulthood.

Then I see something that gives me hope.

A while back on a street near my house, two kids were on their bikes, facing each other from a distance. They each wore hockey helmets and catcher's chest pads, were holding hockey sticks (butt end out) with hockey gloves stuck on the end and were preparing to charge each other.

They were JOUSTING.

I was relatively sober and am not making this up.

It's the kind of thing that gives me hope. Even with all the life-endangering crazy crap we used to do as kids, none of us thought of that.

To make things even sweeter, there was an observer/referee who, one arm in a sling, had obviously been a combatant before.

I wish I was 12 again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

AFRICA ON VERGE OF ANARCHY- UN SPRINGS INTO ACTION TO INVESTIGATE...THE USA

JUST IN TIME FOR THE FALL ELECTION CAMPAIGN!

I know, picking on the UN Human Rights council is like shooting fish in a barrel. Really, really retarded fish.

Nile Gardiner has a great post at NRO on the UNHRC's current investigation of 'Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance' in the US of A.

Beats going to scary third world places and actually helping people I guess. Hit the link in the headline.

Friday, May 16, 2008

BOOB WAR 2.0

It's on. Caliban is going for quan'titty' today.

video

Over to you Rosetta.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

ENFORCING LAW NOW A RIGHT WING PLOT

"Italian police announced on Thursday the arrest of hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants in a sign of the new right-wing government's determination to clamp down."

Hit the link in the headline. I know, it's Reuters, but still. I've traveled a bit in Italy and the illegals are a big problem there. The story goes on about concerns of 'rising xenophobia' and 'migrant misery'.

Drivel.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

THE BLOGGERS COOKBOOK- DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY EDITION

OBAMA SALAD

This simple salad is ideal for summer patio dining and great with grilled meat. The arugula keeps it bitter and the tomatoes add suspicious red undertones.

Ingredients:

3 ripe tomatoes
1 cup arugula, rinsed
1 tbsp coarse salt
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cut tomatoes into thick slices. Toss in a bowl with arugula and salt. Plate and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve with CRACKERS. Hit the link for a suggestion.

TRAITOR

This makes me sick.

Former CBC Editor in Chief takes charge of Al Jazeera's English language network.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has always been far to the left, in ways those unfamuiliar with it wouldn't believe.

But this.

I'm speechless. Hit the link in the headline if you can stand it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

NEW DEMOCRAT VOTER DEMOGRAPHIC IDENTIFIED

I PREDICT:

Whoever gets to them first will CLINCH the nomination.

Glenn Greenwald could not be reached for comment.

Hit the link and ponder the possibilities.

NEW KINETIC VEHICLE PROTOTYPE UNVEILED

Sure, it's just a prototype, but there are ZERO emissions.

No doubt it will soon be available in a full scale model.

Then...

Mandatory.

Hit the link in the headline to see your carbon-footloose future.

Kiss your sorry ass goodbye.

MAY 2008: NOW OFFICIALLY THE NICEST OCTOBER ON RECORD

It's been cold. It's been wet. Cold. And. Wet.

I blame George Bush.

Hit the link in the headline for the terrible toll Global Warming has taken in these here parts.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

BEST STAG PRANK EVER?

A freind of a friend went on a stag recently. They started in London, then went for an extended weekend in Europe. The partygoers 'rented' a midget for the weekend, dressed him up as a Smurf, and handcuffed him to the groom. For several days, the two had to do everything together. Everything.

Behold:


Friday, May 9, 2008

THE BOOBWAR NUCLEAR OPTION

Wanted to save this for last, but having trouble posting from different computer. Hit the link in the headline. Watch and shudder. There is evil here. REALLY NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!11!

Good thing is, a couple of reporters get more than they bargained for.

Top this Rosetta, if you CAN.

MY NOMINEE FOR THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Ah the sweet, sweet irony.

The Boob War begins with a video of Rodney Carrington's plan for world peace. Hit the link in the headline and watch the video. Not safe for work.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

WHODUNNIT- OLD MEDIA DEATH: MURDER OR SUICIDE?

Big media had it all: the money, the sources, the technology and the audience. How could the pros get their pants whipped off by ‘an army of Davids’ (to use Glenn Reynolds’ evocative book title)?

Short answer: greed, arrogance and fear.


This is a longish post, but I’ve been chewing on it for a while, so bear with me.

First, some background: I’ve worked in a variety of capacities at magazines and newspapers, large and small, across Canada for over 25 years. Currently work for a ‘small’ paper owned by a ‘large’ organization, hence the pseudonym.

For decades, old media made a LOT of money. Truth was, they had to. To banks and investors, newspapers and broadcast outlets ran unconventional businesses. There weren’t a lot of hard assets for security and revenue was almost exclusively derived from advertising. Banks and investors demanded, and generally got (from the better-run outfits) investment returns of between 15-20%.

But risks were high. Advertising revenues depended on reader/listener/viewership and that depended on three things: ‘relevance’, ‘credibility’ and ‘market reach’─in short, the collective goodwill of the audience and advertisers they served.. It could be gone in a heartbeat.

I worked for one paper with a track record of close to half a century in a small town. A couple of years after I left they published a story highlighting the laziness and greed of local merchants. As it happens, they were right, but advertiser outrage drove business to the newer competitors. One month after the story appeared, they closed their doors.

That was a judgement call that went bad, but it illustrates the tenuous nature of media profitability.

Towards the end of the 20th Century, successful media companies with their high returns became attractive to a class of investors who leveraged purchases, applied the benefits organizational efficiencies, and managed to both service increasing debt loads and crank out profits.

At around the same time, the media tail began to wag the audience dog. The Cold War, Vietnam and Watergate allowed a new type of iconoclastic journalism to craft an evolving narrative of cover-ups and conspiracies that had nothing to do with the ‘truth’ and everything to do with injecting increasing paranoia in the audience, culminating in Walter Cronkite’s pronouncement that the Vietnam War was unwinnable.

The truth was that the Tet Offensive Cronkite witnessed was a huge defeat for the enemy, but that didn’t matter.

Why? Because it fit the evolving narrative and was VERY good for the media’s bottom line. A frightened audience was desperate for information on the latest crisis of the day and news consumption skyrocketed.

The media’s own success created an environment where investments in media became increasingly attractive. If you couldn’t buy in, you started your own.

Journalistic arrogance reached new heights as reporters elevated themselves to the position of high priests of the American First Amendment and guardians of ‘the people’s right to know.’ Media everywhere followed suit.

It didn’t matter if they got stories wrong, which they did all the time in an effort to out-scoop each other and hold or increase audience numbers. Their ‘greater truth’ was bigger than any inconvenient actual facts on the ground and the profits rolled in.

With the resulting explosion of media outlets and the advent of cable, new sources of information began to appear and the leaking began. Audiences and advertisers alike were presented with a cornucopia of options that increasingly allowed them to select their information providers based on individual interest or specific marketing goals.

At the same time, media profitability and mergers and acquisitions continued, usually with escalating debt-loads. Nobody looked much beyond the next quarter. Bottom-line performance became increasingly paramount as media companies struggled to satisfy both their shareholders and the banks.

Dismissed as a fad at first, cable operations became absorbed into traditional media powerhouses to try to manage the changing landscape and keep a piece of the action. Those that couldn’t buy in started their own cable divisions.

It all limped along.

The lines between news and entertainment began to blur as desperation for audience share grew. Want to find the roots of ‘Eating Horse-colon with the Stars’? They lie here. The advertising rates had to be at least maintained, if not increased, to pay for the decisions and the debt of head offices.

Risks increased and corporate decision-making became increasingly reactive. Big media was now as bureaucratic as big government and a mind-set evolved: it was better to do nothing than do the wrong thing.

Then, the Internet. A bunch of guys at home in their pajamas. The timing couldn’t have been worse for the big boys─or better for the new kids.

Having painted themselves into financial corners with massive borrowing, old media compounded their woes by falling in love with their new ‘elevated’ status and getting confused about their own core business.

Their fundamental product, information, was a natural fit for the Internet but they didn’t see it. The messengers decided they were more important than the message. Online information delivery didn’t need telegenic presenters or sonorous announcers. How could the show possibly go on without them?

Making a successful online transition required a single simple step away from their conventional delivery platform. Their core product remained the same, it was just one more delivery option. All they had to do was take off their TV/radio/Newspaper hats and add one more stream.

Making a buck would come with time as new applications and ideas evolved, but the prospect of giving away something they produced at such a high (self-inflicted) cost caused endless dithering.

They couldn’t move fast enough. The in-house bureaucrats controlled the speed and, as noted, they’d rather do nothing than do the wrong thing.

Except in this case, nothing was exactly the wrong thing to do.

Hobbled by greed and blinded by arrogance, fear of losing, rather than determination to win, became the media’s defining emotional environment.

Half-hearted attempts to make the new media fit the old model (fire-walls, subscription fees, teaser pieces) failed, one after another, as information seekers simply went elsewhere.

Taking a page out of the established media playbook, AOL bought Time/Warner in 2000 in (at the time) the largest corporate deal in history. It was a good move for both sides, giving AOL tons of content and Time/Warner (at the time) the world’s number-one online service provider.

Hardcore traditionalists were outraged that the upstarts had captured their sacred institutions and worked hard internally against change.

When the tech bubble burst, the old guard pointed fingers: ‘See? See? It’s just a fad’. Fear crept in as AOL’s value began to drop. The ‘pros’ regained control of the boardroom and returned to established old media practices.

As a result, AOL’s value eventually declined to about $20 billion, its subscriber base reduced by two-thirds to just over 10 million and its effective market share shrank from about 60% of the online service market in 2000 (according to Stan Liebowitz and Stephen E. Margolis in the September 11, 2000 Wall Street Journal) to a mere 5.5% in 2006 (according to Nielsen/Netratings). Analysts blamed ‘an outdated business model’.

AOL Time/Warner may have had it and lost it. We’ll never know.

Clinging to their privileges, old media became increasingly shrill in both their attacks on new media and in their general coverage of news. Talk of recession is rampant in mainstream news, largely because, for them, the economy is truly worsening and unlikely to ever return to vigor.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is on the brink of bankruptcy and at the New York Times, Mr. Sulzberger is riding the old gray mare all the way to the glue factory. At the Davos conference a few years back he said he didn’t know if they’d still be producing a print product in five years time. He may have been more correct than he knew, but not for the same reasons.

I have spent several fruitless years trying to convince our command structure that we have the tools and the people to make the shift, but to no avail. Our ‘new’ website, delivered from on high, has lots of great content but the format and access points are impenetrable and there is no ‘wow’ factor. Top down applications are meaningless in a bottom-up world.

The online formula is identify, adopt, test, modify and repeat. Better to risk a thousand ideas and let the best rise to the top than apply a mediocre, committee-driven ‘solution’ that fits ‘an outdated business model’.

Traditional media are on their knees now. The coming of the Grid, with its increased speed, power and potential for undreamed-of applications, will likely be the coup de grace.